Canaan Group & Associates helps churches, organizations, and schools improve their fundraising efforts. Troy Duble and Jason Coffey, Canaan Group’s leaders, are ruling elders in their respective churches and have over 30 combined years of fundraising experience. Troy and Jason have a passion for sharing generosity as an attribute of God and have learned how to navigate and discuss the often tricky issue of asking for money. Here is their advice for pastors:
#1: Be Honest
Almost everyone feels awkward discussing money. Amazingly, it is often easier to talk to a friend or congregation member about addiction problems than it is to talk to each other about how we use God’s money. The best way to get around this barrier is to practice speaking plainly and honestly about money yourself. Once you realize that money is just money, it becomes easier to normalize sincere and transparent conversations about the issue. For pastors, preaching openly about giving and money is an effective way of normalizing those kinds of conversations. The Bible talks about the subject over 2,000 times. Why isn’t the topic preached about more?
There are three keys to remember when discussing money with another person. First, remember that this is a conversation, and conversations are best held in one-on-one settings. Small groups can be somewhat effective, but large group gatherings have proven to be mostly ineffective when it comes to these kinds of conversations. Second, ask for permission to ask questions about money, then give them the ability to pass on any question. Third, remember that this is a discipleship issue, not a resource issue. Do not discuss how much money they have saved up or how they spend or donate their money. Rather, focus on their journey with the Lord in whole-life generosity.
#2: Encourage Relationships
Conversations about money must be normalized for both God’s glory and the donors benefit. In order to do that, you have to be in a real relationship. Conversations about money require a relationship. Pastors should talk about money with their church member not because they want something from them, but because they want something for them. These kinds of discussions are not just about money. It’s a spiritual issue to ask God’s people to give God’s money to God’s work. Or put another way, it is teaching church members to ask the Lord how to manage the resources entrusted to them and being willing to obey the answer.
The goal is not just about finishing a project or meeting the budget. More importantly, it’s about having your entire congregation build rich relationships with each other and with God. You should encourage them in their journey by asking them to prayerfully consider how God would have them participate in different opportunities.
#3: Be Confident
Be willing to mess up. If you want to know something about one of your church members, be willing to risk the relationship to ask a hard question, but only at the appropriate time and only after gaining permission. Their response will tell you everything, and you might just learn something in the process. Discipleship is a journey and generosity is an important part of the journey. Everyone takes it one step at a time, and no one will complete the journey on this side of heaven. However, learning to be generous as God is generous is part of spiritual maturity and growth. You can enter into the conversation with a proper theology of money in mind and strong accountability with trusted friends.
One final key to remember – you don’t want something just from your church, you want something for them. You are inviting your congregation to lock arms together and accomplish a common mission. With a proper perspective, pastors don’t ask church members to give to them. Instead, they invite their members to enthusiastically invest in the mission God has called them to collectively fulfill. One prayer if you dare – “God please let me live with my palms up and my hands open. Don’t let me hold onto anything I shouldn’t, but allow me to be a conduit for your gospel work.”
The PCA Foundation facilitates generosity to advance God’s kingdom. Learn how tools like our donor-advised fund enable Christians to support their local church and favorite Christian ministries.