Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Valentine's Gift of Stewardship Teaching

Here's a great Valentine's Day gift idea for the couples in your church: present them with a sermon series on financial stewardship. I'm not kidding. You can renew their passion for each other by teaching them God's principles of financial contentment, wise money management, getting out of debt, generous giving, and true prosperity. So, what's so romantic about getting your finances in order?

It is widely recognized that couples fight more about money-how much to spend, how much to save, how much to borrow, and how much is enough-than about any other topic. Check out these stats. According to the National Survey of Marital Strengths, 80 percent of happy couples agreed with the statement, "Making financial decisions is not difficult." Only 32 percent of unhappy couples agreed. Agreement with the statement, "We agree on how to spend money," for happy couples was 89 percent. But only 41 percent of unhappy couples agreed.

Obviously, conflict over money is a powerful romance killer. Happy couples share similar philosophies of how to manage and spend money. Unhappy couples do not. Clearly, we can renew marital happiness by creating unity on this touchy topic. But how?

The best way I know to get couples on the same financial page is to teach them the financial stewardship principles in God's word. My wife Marisa and I have had our share of conflict over the last 20 years-because she's not yet fully sanctified ;-)-but we've almost never fought over money. That's because we each entered marriage committed to living out biblical standards of financial stewardship. In the fifteen years I pastored in Denver, Colorado, I saw many couples find new marital peace and happiness as a direct result of my annual stewardship series. When couples learned that they are stewards, not owners, of God's money and possessions, when they learned their responsibilities to give, and when they learned to live without worry, while trusting in God's promises to provide, they quit fighting over money. And their marriages were transformed.

Never preached a stewardship series before? Here are some ideas from my book Pastor Driven Stewardship: 10 Steps to Lead Your Church to Biblical Giving:

1. Don't preach a sermon on giving; preach a series of sermons on giving. In my fifteen years as a senior pastor, I learned that a stand-alone sermon on financial stewardship, even if preached twice a year, had little impact on people's giving. But the first year I preached a four-week series on the biblical principles of stewardship, my weekly giving increased 32 percent. Which being translated means we had an extra $20,304 to invest in ministry that year. We used the increased offerings to hire a badly needed, part-time staff member.

2. Preach your stewardship series effectively. A four-week stewardship series, preached once a year, if delivered effectively, can increase your weekly giving by 10–60 percent.

3. Make sure your series is biblical. Spiritual power to change the giving habits of your congregation resides in God's word, not in great illustrations. Therefore, in every series be sure to open the Bible and expound the following biblical truths, in this order:

* Preach that we are not owners, but stewards of God's money and possessions.

* Teach biblical principles of wise money management.

* Next, preach about the biblical principles of giving. If you are new to this, start with 1 Corinthians 16 and 2 Corinthians 8 and 9.

* Always end your series by proclaiming the rewards God promises to faithful givers. See Scriptures such as Matthew 6:19–21, 25–33; Luke 6:38; Acts 20:35; Philippians 4:19; and 2 Corinthians 9:6–11.

This Valentine's season, instead of preaching from the Song of Solomon, try teaching stewardship principles from 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. It's certainly not your normal Valentine's banquet topic. But in the long run it might just prove to be more romantic.

Copyright 2007 Rod Rogers

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