Four Questions for Pastors on Money, Faith and Purpose
A couple of summers ago, our firm conducted research, asking a wide variety of respondents about their financial concerns as they thought about retirement. The answers varied, but a frequent response questioned the relationship between faith and finances. They often commented about not getting much direction from their church.
That should come as no surprise: I am a Christian, and I turn to the Bible, spiritual mentors, and my church for guidance on, well, just about everything. When considering difficult topics, it’s only reasonable for people to turn to their faith, those they trust, and their church for answers.
Jesus himself understood the connection between faith and finances. There are more than 2,000 references to money in the Bible, and Jesus talked about financial matters more than Heaven, Hell, and even prayer.
There are more than 2,000 references to money in the Bible, and Jesus talked about financial matters more than Heaven, Hell, and even prayer.
And, of course, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stated, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21 NIV).
These points help to illustrate just how vital it is to bring faith and money into alignment.
That said, I understand why talking about money is difficult for the church. Money is seemingly a private matter, and there’s a perception that when a pastor or priest brings up finances they must be getting ready to ask for money.
But even tithing is only one part of it.
So, what were the respondents of our survey talking about? What do they mean when they say they’re looking for more guidance when it comes to money from their church?
They are looking for a framework to understand the relationship between their financial resources and the purpose God has for their lives. Jesus wasn’t giving investment advice. He never said, “Buy low and sell high” or “Keep your eye on China; its steel industry looks interesting.” Jesus was explaining the relationship between money and what it means to live a Christ-centered life.
As a pastor, that’s often what your congregation is looking for in the realm of finance. Here are four questions to consider when approaching the topic with your church:
- What does it mean to steward what God has given you?
- How can work and wealth serve your purpose?
- How do you enjoy the gift of wealth while ensuring it doesn’t become your identity?
- How do you give well and with meaning?
These four questions are likely just the start of a conversation about money and faith. But they serve as a springboard for reframing how to think about these topics as the Bible teaches and showing the deep and significant connection between faith and earning a living.
Working with folks seeking greater meaning with their finances for over 30 years now, I can attest it isn’t easy—it never is. When you follow His lead, and make sure your flock sees you as a resource when it comes to understanding the relationship between their finances, their faith and the purpose they are meant to serve, you can spark a deeper reflection on living out faith and seeking God’s direction in all aspects of our lives.