Money is an amazingly powerful force – indeed, much greater than we are often willing to admit. From rich to poor, no one is immune from its all-consuming reach.
And that’s just as true for Christians as it is for anyone else. But how believers view money – and handle it – is drastically different… or at least it’s meant to be. If we are brutally honest, our view of money as followers of Christ in the West has been formed by our capitalistic and consumer-focused societies and is not all that different than that of our secular culture.
As a result, we often trust money rather than God for our security. Let’s consider why that is…
Why Christians Take Our Money-Cues from Culture
One reason for our misperceptions is that indirectly (or sometimes directly) we tell pastors that sermons about money are “off limits.” We are willing to learn about living in the power of the Holy Spirit, strengthening our marriages, parenting better, becoming godly leaders, and standing for truth and justice.
But we are not very happy when money becomes a sermon’s focus. That’s especially true when it comes to giving. The subject crosses a line. It’s personal. It’s “none of your business.”
That’s right in line with a culture that believes liberty means complete and unquestioned freedom from being told what to do.
That’s why most Christians relegate their view of giving to tithing. It often represents the bear minimum we’re willing to give… like taxes. We do not realize that how we handle money, including giving, is critical for developing that deeper walk with God that you and I both long to experience.
Instead, most of us give like we’re tipping God. If you think that’s a bit of an overstatement, consider this:
According to Center on Philanthropy’s statistics for 2008, only 64.4% of Baptists gave anything during that year. And those who gave only donated an average of 2% of their income to religion.1
That is a tip. And a bad one, at that.
It’s especially sad that minimal giving is trending across all denominations. No membership of a Christian denomination comes close to giving 10% of their income to religious organizations or churches. In fact, as of this writing, less than 8% of households in America give 10% or more to religion.2Wow.
Why Money Matters to Your Christian Walk
Dynamic spiritual growth requires many disciplines – prayer, Bible reading, worship, and Christian community just to name a few. But I now believe we cannot become wholly devoted followers of Jesus Christ, mature as Christians, or enjoy a truly intimate relationship with God… if we fail to view and therefore, handle money as God has outlined in His Word. It is an essential discipline of the Christian life. It is a non-negotiable element of our relationship with God and the full life Christ offers.
The concept is simple, yet profound. Our money and our hearts are tethered together with an unbreakable cord. As I mentioned earlier, Jesus said it simply and powerfully:
“. . . where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Our treasure and our hearts are inextricably tied together. There are no exceptions. None. And if we want to fully follow after Jesus Christ, then we cannot take how we handle our money out of the discipleship equation.
12008 study conducted by Patrick Rooney, Interim Director of The Center on Philanthropy, Indiana University.
Rick is a 36-year veteran in fundraising and organizational development for nonprofit organizations. After serving for eleven years in nonprofit management and fundraising leadership roles, Rick began his consulting career in 1989. In 2002 he founded Dunham+Company, which has become a global leader in providing fully integrated fundraising strategy for nonprofit organizations.
Today, D+C serves over 50 organizations in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, South Africa, and Australia, providing integrated fundraising and marketing strategies.
Rick holds a BA from Biola University and a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary.
He is an active member of the Direct Marketing Association. Rick also serves on the board of The Giving Institute and the Giving USA Foundation. In addition, Rick is a member of The Giving Coalition, the national voice for charitable organizations in the U.S.