How to Preach about Giving – 10 Tips

25 09 2013

Preaching about giving is perhaps the most regularly ducked pulpit challenge. These tips might just help you find the courage to enjoy it.

1. Balance spirituality and practicality.

Someone has said that leadership is a mix of plumbing and poetry. Often preaching about giving is too predictable, utterly prosaic and gets to the practicalities too soon.  Find a way of making your preaching about giving poetic.

2. Open the Lens

Preaching this area often begins apologetically and then gets into micro-detail.  Try a different tack. Think of using a wide-angle lens on a camera. Take in the whole cultural landscape. Get into the current debate about sufficiency.  Google ‘enough is enough’ and see what you find.

3. Aim at the Block

Annie Dillard offers this advice to writers: don’t focus on the words themselves but on the page behind them. Aim at the (chopping) block just as a good axe-person does. In other words, don’t be too detailed, specific or precise. Aim to inspire people to become generous rather than telling them what to do.

4. Don’t Forget Sin

If you make a list of how many sins are connected with money you will see what you are up against. The list is long. This is not an invitation to say to people that they are greedy, avaricious and full of envy for anyone richer than they are. But you might like to have in the back of your mind that we are all screwed up about money to some degree or another and that this is why you need to preach about this.

5. Make Gratitude a Habit

We can easily get into mental knots about who should thank whom when people give to the Church. Disentangle yourself! Take the risk of thanking liberally. It’s a good habit and evidence of generosity of spirit – which is the key to all this.

6. Read John Chapters 2, 4 and 6

Here you will find stories of ‘too much wine, too much water, and too much bread’ as Sam Wells has put it.  Preach and live this gospel of excess and abundance and rail against scarcity thinking.

7. Think and say ‘we’ and ‘us’.

Without a sense of community and mutual dependency there will never be a culture of generous, genuine, open-handed giving.

8. Rail Against Scarcity Thinking

Yes, I had made this point already. It’s the key to all this. The world thinks ‘scarcity’ but the gospel is ‘plenty’. The task is to preach the gospel and to remember that generosity is a spiritual issue with financial implications, not a financial issue with spiritual implications.

9. Think, Live and Breathe ‘flow’.

Grace is never stagnant, nor does the Spirit sit still. Giving is about allowing yourself to enter into the flow of God’s generosity. Let go. Let go. Let go.

10. Set an Example

As a preacher you will be doing this whether you like it or not. Your attitude will communicate more than your words.  That means that you must be actually, practically, positively and spiritually  generous yourself. People will notice, but don’t spoil it by telling them,

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