A few years ago my family attended my son’s middle school soccer team’s end-of-year pizza party in the school cafeteria. We were brand new to the school district, and in fact had not even moved there yet. But we had a sales agreement on our new house, enough to meet school board requirements to let kids start the year with their class rather than having to change schools a month after the new school year begins. What that meant is we barely knew anyone. You know that feeling of being alone in a crowd? That was us.
We got our seats, and soon enough I began overhearing a conversation from a couple other dads at the end of our table. It went something like this:
“What did you think of the sermon this past Sunday?” (That piqued my interest!)
“I hate sermons about giving.” (Uh-oh, I thought…I bet I see where this is going.)
“Yeah, give, give and give some more. Doesn’t he know that life is tough for us?”
On and on the discussion went from there. I remember thinking, if only those guys realized what it was like from the other side of the pulpit.
Maybe there are some pastors who love to talk about giving, but my guess is that most feel just as awkward about it as the people listening feel hearing it. When a pastor preaches about giving, the pastor knows how self-serving the sermon can seem: “Give…because I need my salary checks to keep coming!” At least that is what we can imagine you are thinking as you listen. We know that in reality you are hearing this sermon wrestling with the tension between wanting to be faithful to the Lord, to be generous, and knowing how expensive life is. We know that many of you are wondering how you’re going to pay off debt or how you’re going to pay the bills. We know some of you are living paycheck to paycheck. We know that because some of us are wondering those same things, as we live paycheck to paycheck.
I guess it is one big awkward mess.
Why do we keep preaching about giving then? Do we really need to talk about it? Do pastors fear that people will stop giving if they, the pastors, stop preaching sermons about giving which leave people feeling guilty? Is it possible to talk about giving without guilting people into giving? As we continue in the 1st Corinthians series, Phil Bartlet will be preaching on 1st Corinthians 16:1-4. There you’ll notice that Paul talks about giving, and he does so pretty specifically. I wonder if he felt awkward about it? Something tells me he didn’t. He talked about giving a lot, actually. If Paul talked about it, then we need to talk about it. Perhaps there is something inherently beneficial about giving that we don’t realize?
So…yes, we’re having another sermon about giving on Sunday. But don’t stay away. Maybe even come with an expectant heart and mind! Join us at Faith Church on Sunday!