Giving is an incredible barometer of our spiritual health. Spiritually healthy people are generous people. Giving is an indicator of our priorities, what we worship, our gods. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
We know this. We believe it. Giving is not about budgets. Its about faith. So, if the only time pastors preach on giving and generosity is during budget time, then we send the message that all this talk about generosity isn’t from a pastor who understands and cares about our spiritual lives, it’s really just about balancing an institution’s budget.
So, now that the fall stewardship campaign is over (for most churches), when are you clergy going to preach about giving next? Gonna wait ’til next fall?
Why not enjoy the freedom of preaching your heart out about giving an generosity, at a time when you’re not budgeting, or asking for anything?
For those who schedule their Sunday readings by the three-year Revised Common Lectionary, here are some times you might consider preaching and teaching on the joy of giving.
December – Yuletide is a great time to talk about giving. Christmas is the season of giving. People’s hearts are softened. Ebenezer Scrooge haunts us. Take a Christmas offering for a ministry beyond your walls. Tell the story of Saint Nicholas. It’s also year end. Some will receive bonuses and consider tithing from them. Others will consider year end gifts for tax purposes. Give them a chance to do something that will give them joy and serve the kingdom.
Lent – Almsgiving is one of the disciplines of Lent. Ash Wednesday we read from Matthew 6. Don’t worry about your life. God will take care of you. Seek first the kingdom and then everything else will be added unto you.
The importance of repentance is a strong theme in Lent. Return to the Lord your God. Change your ways, your priorities. Lent 3B is the Cleansing of the Temple. Jesus isn’t upset with money in church. In fact he will prasie the widow who puts two pennies in the offering. Instead he is criticizing the Temple sacrificial system. The money is being used to purchase animals to be sacrificed, rather than supporting the priests, the poor, the widow, orphan and alien. This may be a great time to talk about our spending priorities as a church and as families.
Mother’s Day – On this day most (not all) people reflect on how much their mothers gave them. It’s a great day to talk about giving, using the image of the sacrificial mother. No, its not a religious festival, but it will be on 90% of your congregation’s minds. While some can’t have kids, and some choose not to, everyone had a mother, and a good mom, a loving mother is a great example of caring for those who can’t care for themselves. The text is John 15: This is my commandment, that you love one another, and bear fruit.
June 24 – We have 2 Corinthians 8 as our epistle, where Paul talks about the offering for the saints in Jerusalem. He brags on the Macedonians who are yearning to give even though they are poor. In the kingdom of God, even the poor give to the poor.
July 22 – We read the Feeding of the Five Thousand on this Sunday. This story exemplifies God’s providence. The miracle of one boy’s generosity multiplies the resources. You have four weeks of “bread” texts. Why not use the first to talk about the joy of generosity?
September 9 – Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 says, “Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.”
November 11 – The widow places two copper coins in the Temple treasury. Jess teaches about proportionate giving. She offers very little, but gives the most, because it’s 100%.
Thanksgiving – This is a great time to talk about giving. We give because we have an attitude of gratitude. When we are filled with an overwhelming sense f gratitude, our natural instinct is to give.