I once opened a sermon by telling the congregation I was going to talk about the “M” word.
Yes, the “M” word makes a lot of church people uncomfortable, I know. But in that moment, it was an important word the people needed to hear. The “M” word, of course, was Mary.
Imagine the chuckles and sighs when people heard that was the word. They were expecting instead to hear money.
Money is another “m” word we need to stress less about. I encourage congregations to reflect on why we get so uptight when we talk about the subject. That will offer some helpful insights and, hopefully, change of heart.
People have told me before it isn’t appropriate to tell others what to give to the church. I agree. I don’t.
If you’ve ever heard me talk about giving, I give witness to the joy of tithing. When our family had very little, we tithed. Today, now that our finances are more stable, we still tithe ten percent of everything we make. Our kids are young adults now, learning to use their skills to make money. We strongly encourage them to tithe as well. For our family, it’s a way we honor God.
I’ll tell my children to also recall the church helped take care of our family as they grew up. It’s time for them to now ensure they help take care of the church. You may not be a pastoral family, but you are a part of a local community of faith. You have worshiped with the people there. You love them. You sense God’s presence and grace there with them. Now, imagine what new ministry might be possible among your church if more people recommitted to tithing!
But again, I can’t tell you what to give. You can’t tell or force others either. Maybe, though, we can rethink the “m” word.
I’ve tried to steer away from donating language. We do not donate to God’s mission. We offer to God what we have to give. So, money is a part of giving. Giving is better language, but we could still take one more step.
Let’s learn to talk about money and giving as generosity. Don’t ask how much money do I give? Ask, How generous have I become? Considering all that God has done for us and the “generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ,” have we been generous to God’s people? To God’s mission? That’s an important distinction because I could tithe and still not be generous.
And that may be a more helpful question to determine how much money has a pull on our lives.