A Brief Post About Financial Stewardship

ps2Last spring, the church we go to was been doing a series on finances (Full disclosure: I’ve only heard two of the sermons in the series).

In all my time of attending church and listening to sermons (about 1997 till today), I’ve rarely heard a sermon that really lays out practical thoughts or ideas about money. It always boils down to being a “heart issue”, that is, it’s basically between you and God and that your heart is in the right place. Even if there is mention of the “tithe 10%” scriptures, it’s never issued as a command or standard in the church. Pastors rarely say “if your a Christian you should be giving away ten percent or more of your income,” and if they do it’s balanced or padded with “heart” talk

What I’m getting at is that it just doesn’t seem like there is much straight talk about finances in the church at all. I would love for a pastor to get up and say, even with qualifiers that it’s a “heart issue”, exactly how much their family’s cost of living is, and why they chose that amount and what financial stewardship looks like in their life. I’m wondering if others have heard sermons at all like that, or even close to that. (The close example I can think of is Ron Sider discussing the graduated tithe his family does at the end of Rich Christian’s in an Age of Hunger).

It reminds me of part of one of the finance sermons I heard last March. It was really good, I love the kind of stuff the pastor says. He went off about how big corporations have ripped off the grassroots origins of Hip Hop and used it just to make money. He’s tearing into how gangsta rap has affected both the urban centers and suburbs and a lot of “wickedness” is going down as those big corporations make money off the rap and the blame is placed on the artist and the urban culture. And then he says this:

“Nobody saying to Sony, “I’m not buying a PS3 because thae same company that makes PS3 is also pimping these kids and having them sign these contracts and making money off the stereotypes of black people. Now, I have a PS2 at home, which makes this kind of a complex statement. Just cause I failed at it don’t mean it’s not right!

Somebody has to set a standard, somebody has to set an example of what this righteousness with resources looks like.”

Now I missed the other sermons after that, and I don’t know him personally, so I’m not sure what he’s decided to do with his PS2. But, I do appreciate him being honest about it. And the point isn’t really to call out the pastor on this, but to say I really wish I’d see two things: 1) That kind of honesty and practical application of faith as it relates to finances/resources and 2) pastors, churches and communities that were going a step further and making collective decisions (or at least discussing them) regarding resources and choices in supporting brands, etc.

Q: Have you heard sermon’s or had mentors that laid out practical thoughts and application of faith regarding finances and resources?

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15 thoughts on “A Brief Post About Financial Stewardship”

  1. i don't know when it was, maybe last year or the year before.. but sandra unger did a sermon at WHC that was entitled I think "this is what we do". it was brilliant.

  2. 12/7/2008 – This Is What We Do, Sandra Unger – sermon length is 52:49 minutes
    Christians are called to live generously all year round – not just at Christmas time. Jesus models four distinctives that we are to imitate in our lives and in our communities. We can easily get caught in the flow of our culture so these distinctives are challenging for us, but they’re crucial for expanding God’s Kingdom.

  3. Isaiah,
    Thanks for mentioning Dave Ramsey. I think his advice regarding eliminating debt are pretty solid and encouraging to see such plain talk about it.

    At the same time, the second part of his mantra "live like no one else, so that you can live like no one else" is the part I'm curious about. Like in the article you posted he mentions an increase in income means more tithing, more investing and more "blow money". I'm curious what that means, on a straight practical level. I know little about Dave's personal life, but I think he has a significant amount of blow money. I want to see some practical discussion on that.
    … See More
    P.S. I know Dave quite well, a obscure post I wrote about him has turned out to be the most commented on my entire blog

    1. I read your post on Dave Ramsey. I have to say I agree with what he said and here is why. I was on staff with YWAM Denver as you know. I had people tell me that they would not support me if I ever used the money on McDonald's. So by what you have posted, every Christian no matter what there net worth is, should live like a poor person? Are you … See Moresaying that as a Christian we should never have any fun and always sacrifice everything? This is not Biblical. Yes the lady was beign a tight wad. A SUV does burn a bit more fuel then a mini van but they ar gas hogs as well. Dave's point was that it is not a salvation issue. If you have read any of Dave's books you will find that the most important thing he places value on is to Give like no one else. Being wealthy is not sinful. Having nice things is not sinful. The wealth and the nice things having you is. Dave has a lot of money, he gives a lot of money and he says he owns nothing. The Lord owns everything and he tries to keep in mind he is a Steward of the money as a Manager. Remember a Steward is the manager of the Lord's money. If you have extra money, you don't have any debt and you want to purchase something a bit nicer, is that sinful?

      Just remember God invented fun. He gave us nice things. Dave says that being a saver is a good thing but being a "Tightwad" is not. Being a tightwad in from that reference point is not healthy. A Tightwad tends to become greedy and selfish. Dave says that the spenders need the savers so they do not go broke. The savers need the spenders so they have a life.

      oh and you only get a tiny amount of who Dave Ramsey is by his radio show.

      1. @Isaiah, this will be brief, I'm heading to bed soon.
        I've read Dave's book and heard his show and I definitely agree with his first premise: get out of debt.
        He seems to be the most straight-forward and serious about this of any financial management advice and wisdom I've seen.
        My dilemma with the one particular radio show had simply to do with him discouraging this women from the direction she was already desiring to go, by calling her a "tightwad" no less.
        … See More
        Your jump to me making a judgement on what is and is not "sin" is a stretch, that's not my role now, nor will it ever be. At the same time, I think a practical discussion of how we spend our finances and what we do with our resources is worth having (thus my original post above). So, all the stuff you bring up is exactly the kind of stuff I think needs to be talked about more in the church. I'll try and give some answers:

        "So by what you have posted, every Christian no matter what there net worth is, should live like a poor person?"
        Yeah, I think I might be. Poor person is probably in ill-defined term. The majority of people in the world live on less then $2 a day, which might not be feasible for someone living in the USA and trying to hold a steady job. But I think your at least getting the direction I'm leaning

        "Are you saying that as a Christian we should never have any fun and always sacrifice everything?"
        I might be suggesting trading in what you define as "fun" so that others can eat "food", but here's a link to a better response:

        "If you have extra money, you don't have any debt and you want to purchase something a bit nicer, is that sinful?"
        Like I mentioned, I'm not the person to ask about what is "sinful." However, since you have been referencing what is "Biblical", I'd say I see plenty of verses I can point to, and you probably know, that would argue for something different then how the vast majority of Christians in the USA currently spend their money.

        1. One thing I was thinking on that blog and your comments is this. For the sake of argument as I did not hear that caller and his reply. He may have been wrong and even harsh. He is human and that one call he could have been mistaken to call the lady a "tightwad" But please do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Even if he made this one mistake why through out his whole message even his message on giving like no one else goes by the wayside. How many more people doe he help then harm? Also he does lead people to the Lord which is the best part about him, forget about the finances his treasure is going to be the ones he meets in heaven through his teaching and ministry.

          I love your heart my friend and trust me I know. You see one thing I have realized is this, living a lie of wealth while living in debt is what we in the U.S. Do all the time. This is why the U.S. and even more so the Church in the U.S. is not giving. It is a crazy world we live in. http://www.angelfire.com/ca2/Isaiah68/blog/index…. this is a blog where I think you will see we do see eye to eye on. I am not saying in any way that spending money wily nilly on frivolous things is wise. I am saying if you do take budgeted money that is a small portion of your net worth to do something once in a while that cost money that is "Fun" its ok. Remember This … See More

          Deuteronomy 8:18 (New King James Version)
          18 “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

          Abraham the Father of our faith was wealthy, He rose an army of 300 soldiers from the children of his servants to retrieve Lot. Thats wealthy, extremely in Bible times. The good Samaritan was wealthy, thats how he was able to care for the beaten up man.

        2. I put it forward this, I think that if a person does not have debt in the us, and chooses to use a small portion of his overall finances to have fun thats okay. I don't think its okay for someone who is in debt up to his eyeballs, to live extravagantly, which is at least 70% of America today. Imagine this, if everyone in the church of America today did what it took to get out of debt, be debt free, started building wealth and then not having chains of debt holding them back started to give even just 25% over the 10% tithe, to the ministry/missions/the poor what would happen int the world? We as a church who are in Slavery aka Debt can not be free to impact the world if we can barely pay the rent and put food on the table because we are drowning in debt.

          You are correct though way to many people let "fun" and "stuff" rule there lives. Others "Tightwads" let money rule their lives, remember this people who are tightwads are usually greedy and will not give money away even if they have it, look at Ebenezer Scrooge. A saver is good steward, a tightwad who saves for the sake of having more money is greedy and not a good steward. I don't know what category that lady fell into, I did not hear her voice, her tone etc. One thing I do know is Dave Ramsey gets words of knowledge for people on the radio show all the time. I called him with a question from a friend of mine. He knew all about the friend their emotional state and even that they were older then me, with out me stating anything other then the financial predicament. He may have been correct about this lady's attitude. IF she was wanting to save money due to greed. If it was out of heart of giving the extra, and or being a good steward then he was wrong. Again I did not hear the call so I cannot say.

          So here is a warning for you my friend please take it prayerfully, and in the spirit of Love in which it is offered. Remember the Lord gives us all personal convictions, like Sampson with his hair.We may not be allowed per what the Lord has set in our hearts to not cut our hair, to do so would be sin, but that does not mean that anyone else that cuts their hair is in sin. I have even heard of people who feel that its sinful to wear shows because its too extravagant in there culture. I have noticed that you have strong convictions, and you follow them with 110% of what you have. That is more then I can say then of the other 90% of the people I know. However with this gift comes the tendincy to judge others by your convictions rather then the Word. It is not just you. I have seen this time and time and time again in the church and I catch myself doing it all the time. I do believe this is one of the things that bring division in the Body and makes us less effective in the world today.

          This is not to say that you do not need to raise awareness of things such as oppression, such as injustice and poverty, that we do not need to do something about that. I love the fact you do raise the subjects and get peoples attention. We need more Ariah's in this world. We need more people who care for others with the heart you have. I have personally see this heart in action. I have seen this heart supersede its own pain and suffering for someone else. I have seen you step up to the plate and knock one out of the park like "The Babe" even through torment and self doubt. This is what I still see and Love about you. Do not ever stop loving God and Loving people. You do both of these well and these are the two Greatest commandments, "To Love God and to Love your neighbor as yourself" On this hangs all the law and the prophets.

  4. Have you ever listened to much Francis Chan? He’s phenomenally faithful to scripture, in his preaching about money and about… everything else.

    1. I have a little. I just actually read an article about him somewhere and was really impressed by some of the things it said.
      Any particular sermon you'd recommend?

      1. I know you asked Phil, but I thought I'd weigh in on this one too. I love Francis Chan. I'd highly recommend listening to his sermon entitled, "Lukewarm and Lovin' It." He talks about the parable of the rich young ruler and how that applies to us today. It's really challenging.

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