The pastor sets the tone for stewardship success. If a preacher is nervous about talking about money then the congregation will sense that trepidation. If you feel nervous about a conflict of interest because your salary depends on the success of the stewardship campaign, then let’s talk about the spiritual benefits of giving.
Many pastors feel nervous to ask for money. We can get confused about the stewardship sermons because we are worried about our own self-interest in this appeal. I want to start by saying that this is a normal and honest reaction to this appeal. It can be awkward. I felt that confusion myself until I realized that giving is good for the soul. In a society where many people worship greed, most pastors have a responsibility to offer another way to live. In a time when many secular organizations are promoting giving and lots of people are inspired to participate in fund-raising for charities of all kinds, the church needs to claim its primary role as a place where people learn the joy of giving.
Every charity from public television to the Sierra Club to political campaigns has learned how to fund-raise from churches. Everyone else is asking for pledges while many pastors are nervous about it. So I think it is time to re-claim our place as central fund-raisers for the non-profit cause that invented stewardship - the Church.
The way to find new energy for stewardship is to remember how good it is to give, and how powerful it is to feel connected to a cause greater than your own personal needs. It is uplifting to find a sense of purpose in being part of something where you stretch to meet a financial goal - to serve the community or spread the Good News.
Many people do a Stewardship Sermon, but stewardship is an important Biblical theme and I believe it needs a sermon series. It takes time to unpack the principles of giving and why it is of spiritual benefit.
Here are some ideas for sermon texts on stewardship. You can use them in a study group or in a series from the pulpit or both. We have an opportunity to teach people the importance of giving. It is not about paying bills alone. It is about building up the Church, dreaming of new possibilities for your congregation, and building faith.
Parable of the Talents - Matthew 25: 14-30 A story about investing and risk.
Feeding the 5000 - John 6:1-15 A story about initiating giving.
The widow’s Mite - Luke 21:1-4 A story about giving all you have in faith.
Ananias and Sapphire - Acts 5:1-11 A story about the importance of giving and the risks of not being generous. This can be a scary story but I turned it into a skit and helped the church laugh about it.
Jesus said “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” He was right. Jesus never ignored the truth about money. Neither can we.