Money matters matter—even at church, because as church leaders we have a God-given responsibility on behalf of God’s people to direct the financial affairs of our churches with integrity and wisdom. Unfortunately, common misunderstandings regarding money can derail our efforts. Consider these eight money myths.
Decreased giving is a sign we are not doing things right.
This is a partial truth at best, because while it’s true that decreased giving may indicate our people are not behind our church’s ministry, often other factors are involved. Sometimes giving declines due to a lack of information or appropriate challenge about the church’s financial needs. At other times it results from the disobedient responses of those who merely want their own way. Sometimes local economic factors are in play. If the giving is not what it should be, don’t jump to conclusions, but become part of the solution through increased giving.
Financial planning and budgeting demonstrate a lack of trust in God.
A genuine trust in God does not preclude wisdom in stewardship. Rather, planning and appropriate effort affirm our commitment to handling God’s resources in a way that pleases Him and demonstrates integrity. The Bible often speaks to this perspective (see these examples from Proverbs: 16:3, 9; 21:5, 20, 25, 26; 22:4; 24:30–34; 27:23–27).
If we had more tithers, all our problems would be solved.
I confess that I bought into this myth at times in my pastoral ministry. But I knew the truth: Successful ministry is not merely a financial matter. Increased giving is only one part of a balanced plan to become financially healthy; other parts relate to our budgeting and spending strategies that need to honor God and be marked by wisdom.
It’s best never to mention money from the pulpit.
As a former pastor, I certainly understand the reticence we pastors feel regarding this subject. We don’t want people to misread our motives, and we surely don’t want to give visitors the impression that we are only interested in their money. But the Bible has so much to say about money and material things, including the fact that good financial stewardship is essential to spiritual growth and a God-pleasing life. If we intend to be faithful to the Scriptures in our preaching, we must address the subject of money. The key is balance—not overemphasizing or ignoring the subject, which allows us to both teach our people and not offend our guests.
Wealthy people are just worldly.
The Bible teaches otherwise. While it is true that material things can draw our hearts away from God and a lust for money can corrupt and mislead us about what’s important in life (Luke 12:13–21; 1 Timothy 6:9, 10; Hebrews 13:5), the Bible gives many examples of wealthy people who kept perspective on their possessions and lived godly lives (consider Abraham, Joseph, Levi, and Cornelius). Most churches have benefited from the generous gifts of wealthy people who love the Lord and use their financial means to further the cause of Christ. Praise God for their example and commitment!
Financial oversight and accountability are important for businesses, but not for churches.
What is important for businesses is even more important in churches. Financial integrity is a must! God’s people who give through a local church need to be assured that proper oversight and accountability are maintained regarding their gifts. Churches who take this seriously will divide control over financial operations (collecting, counting, depositing, etc.) among different people on a rotating basis, separate the functions of receiving and dispersing money, establish and administer a congregationally approved annual budget, report fully and regularly to the congregation regarding receipts and expenditures, conduct regular audits, and so forth.
Financially successful people are the best qualified to serve in church leadership positions.
This common myth assumes that the most important qualification for service is financial success. Rather, godliness and spiritual maturity are the primary qualifications. Personal spiritual qualifications ought to take precedence over financial ones in our consideration of leadership readiness in church.
Pastors should be poor; it’s more spiritual.
I remain puzzled that some people think a pastor should not be paid well, despite the clear instruction in 1 Timothy 5:17 to the contrary. In the light of this Scriptural foundation and an understanding of the challenges and long hours of pastoral ministry, is it not time that churches did more financially for their pastors? Our churches will benefit in turn from ministry that is free from financial concern.
Jim Vogel (DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) was a pastor for 30 years and associate national representative of the GARBC. He now represents the Empire State Fellowship of Regular Baptist Churches.