The Link Between Making Disciples and Managing Money
It happens every week in churches around the world. Someone contacts the pastor looking for help. A single mom is facing a mountain of debt and has nowhere else to turn. Or a husband and wife are considering divorce because of constant arguments about money. Maybe the caller is a young adult looking for wisdom, trying to avoid the financial mistakes his parents made.
The Common Denominator
Regardless of age, gender, race, or religion, we all have one thing in common: Money.
It doesn’t matter how much or how little we have. Whether we consider ourselves poor, middle-class, or affluent, financial issues can be a source of tremendous stress in our lives. Maybe that’s why God gave us over 2,300 verses on money and possessions in His Word. He knew how much time and energy humans would spend on this one aspect of life. We, on the other hand, might be surprised by the number of hours we actually devote to making money, deciding how to spend it, and worrying about whether we’ll have enough for the future.
Stop and think about the impact that preoccupation is having in our culture. Do you know how many people in your family, neighborhood or church are struggling with financial challenges of one kind or another? Contrary to popular belief, those problems aren’t always debt-related. Some people suffer from anxiety about a lack of savings or long-term investments. Others are weighed down by shame due to poor decisions in the past. Still others struggle with discontentment, materialism, and greed. The emotional and relational toll from these issues can be extensive. So what’s the solution? How do we teach a Biblical worldview on money, when the culture around us teaches just the opposite?
The Heart of the Matter
In his e-book titled Uncover and Resolve the Hidden Financial Issues in Your Congregation, Crown’s CEO, Chuck Bentley, says, “The hidden financial problem in your church is not how people BEHAVE with money; it is what they BELIEVE about money.” If church leaders focus exclusively on the financial condition of their congregation, they might miss the financial lies which lead to that condition.
Unless you start with the heart, you run the danger of creating what Randy Alcorn calls “faithful materialists.” As an author and pastor, Alcorn has written and preached extensively on the topic of money and possessions. Although there’s greater wealth among believers today than ever before, he says Christians rarely ask each other “Are you winning the battle against materialism?” or “How are you doing with your giving?” Therefore, both he and Chuck Bentley challenge us to look at what we’re doing with the wealth God has entrusted to us.
The warning in Mark 8:36 is just as applicable today as when it was written two thousand years ago.
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
A lot of financial teaching these days focuses on helping people get on a budget, reduce their debt, and increase their savings. Some teaching also addresses the benefits of giving. Don’t get me wrong. Those are all important topics. Too often, however, the emphasis is on financial success — rather than financial faithfulness. Which raises an important question: If all we do is teach people to live debt-free so they can pay cash for whatever they want, have we really fulfilled Christ’s command to make disciples? Have we helped the people in our pews surrender more fully to His Lordship? Have we really advanced God’s Kingdom at all?
Creating a Culture of Financial Faithfulness
As a member of Crown’s field team, I’ve had the privilege of helping churches across the U.S. develop a stewardship education strategy. The objective of those churches is usually twofold:
- Meeting church members at their point of need, and
- Creating a culture of financial faithfulness in their congregation and community.
I’ve seen God do amazing things as people surrender this area to him. Once they experience the impact of applying biblical principles to their money, it becomes easier to do the same with other aspects of their life. As they submit their finances to Christ’s Lordship, people also learn to trust Him for their spiritual growth, relationships, health, and career.
Crown’s online MoneyLife Personal Finance Study is a great way for members of your church to gain a biblical perspective on money and possessions. The course can lift the burden of financial stress and help participants experience the peace of living by God’s financial principles. The online platform is easy to use and accessible by anyone with an internet connection. It’s designed to help build relationships and encourage accountability in a small group environment — even when participants are spread across multiple locations.
Start a MoneyLife group today and discover how money and faith intersect as part of the disciple-making process. Building a culture of financial faithfulness and generosity will bless not only your church family, but the surrounding community as well!