Here are 3 ways to make stewardship preaching easier.
I recently interviewed Rev. Dr. Clayton Smith, executive pastor of generosity at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, in preparation for launching a podcast. But I don’t want to wait for the podcast to share with you some of his helpful thoughts on stewardship and preaching about money.
Clayton said that his D.Min. research showed that 2/3 of the pastors he interviewed would truly rather have a tooth pulled than preach about stewardship. The other 1/3 have more prophetic gifts and don’t mind stepping on toes. Which are you?
Here are three ways to reduce the pain, Clayton said.
1. Focus on the mission.
Review your mission statement, and look at the last three years of how your financial program has done. Think, for example, “We could do so much more if we had an increase of 10%.”
2. Focus on the ministry of it.
He says at the Church of the Resurrection, attention goes not to what they want from their people, but first what they want for them—more financial freedom, more generosity, more awareness of God’s provision. The purpose is “faith-raising” as much as “fund-raising.”
3. Focus on the relationships.
“Nurture the relationships you have with people,” Clayton said. He added that if you had coffee with givers once a month, in a year’s time you would make real progress. He also suggested you ask, “Would you consider giving a gift, or giving more?” He said that word “consider” helped make it easier for him to ask individuals to make bigger gifts.
Note: when you develop those relationships, it becomes easier to preach because you know people better. In addition, it will be far easier for people to hear what you have to say. Of course, in a larger church you can’t do this with everyone, but you can focus on key leaders.
Here’s a word of hope. Clayton said for many years as a senior pastor, this was his own most challenging area of ministry. Now it’s become a specialty and a calling. His book Propel is well worth reading.
Here’s an excellent article he wrote on setting stewardship goals.