Close to two million visitors have been to Jon Acuff’s blog, Stuff Christians Like, to read about “serious” issues facing the church today. Issues like “The Church Money Disclaimer.”
Growing up as a pastor’s kid, Jon experienced this phenomenon first-hand. We all know it’s not easy to talk about money in church, and so most pastors preface any mention of it with a disclaimer like, “We never talk about money…except for today. If you’re visiting with us today, please come back next week!”
But in all seriousness, we really can’t not talk about money in church. Jesus talked more about money than he did about love. There are over 800 verses that apply to the whole money thing. It’s not something we can ignore.
In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, 7 out of 10 families are living paycheck to paycheck. Over half of marriages end in divorce, and money problems top the list of reasons time after time.
“Think about it,” Jon said. “If you moved into a neighborhood and found out that 7 out of 10 families who lived there were eaten by bears—you would probably at least get some bear spray.”
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Yet, if you look at 7 out of 10 houses on your street or 70% o the people filling your church on any given Sunday, they’re struggling financially—and most churches aren’t doing anything about it.
When he spoke at the Catalyst conference, Jon explained that we can start facing this problem by recognizing that most people in any congregation feel one of four ways about their money:
This is the group that’s behind on payments and constantly focused on money, because when you don’t have any, money becomes louder. These people need a place where they can get honest about their struggles instead of hiding behind a happy face and using the Christian “f” word: fine. How’s the family? Fine. How’s work? Fine. How are your finances with all the crazy stuff going on in the economy? Fine.
The majority of any congregation falls into this category. They seem like they’ve got it together, but they are closer to the edge than you think. Don’t assume this group is safe. They are one hospital bill, car accident or hot water heater away from being in the Worried category, and they need just as much of your attention.
These people are on the edge of building a legacy that lasts for generations. This can be an easy place to plateau though, a place where you’re “out of the fire” and start to take it easy. Since these people aren’t on either end of the spectrum, it’s tempting to look past their issues. As a leader, you have to help them move beyond being wise to creating a legacy.
It’s easy to think that the wealthy are the ones who are home-free. They have “arrived,” right? But who is helping them carry the weight of their success? As leaders, sometimes our desire to be honest decreases as someone’s income increases. We have a harder time being honest with this group than we do with the Worried. We can speak direct truth into the worried life, but when someone is contributing 10 or 20% to our budget, we’re tempted by the “Emperor’s Clothing Syndrome”: telling them only what they want to hear. We’ve got to be honest and ask them about their struggles. Why is it that so many lottery winners fall apart and commit suicide? Because money doesn’t solve your problems. It just makes you more of who you already are. Wealth without the wisdom to handle it can be a disaster.
We may want to assume that the majority of the people in our church don’t have money problems, but the reality is that for at least 7 out of 10 of them, that’s just not the case.
The great news is that you can be part of the solution! Financial Peace University will meet people where they are and teach them how to apply what God’s Word says about money to their lives. It’s easy to start, easy to lead, and a lot of fun for all involved!
Visit the online resource center now to start a class or order class materials.
*Church advisors from Dave's office are available to support you throughout the class. If you have any questions, give them a call at 877.378.2667.