The last four weeks I have been speaking about the topic of money. This was not a series designed to raise money for some big project or capital campaign. It was merely an overview of how a Christian should view their money and a few general tips on how to handle it.
What happened over the last four weeks was fascinating to me. In August, September, and October our Church reached new heights since I became its leader. We averaged 218 people combined in our two worship programs. The Church was full and exciting every week as new people joined us and the auditorium filled up. Then came November and the new sermon series called “Right on the Money.”
Over the last four weeks, our weekly attendance dropped like a rock from a tall building. We went from 218 people average attendance to 185 people per week. The programs felt empty, morale was low, and there was a general apathy that swept over the Church. I do understand there were issues with health, deer hunting season, the weather and the Thanksgiving holiday. These factors also led to lower attendance, but having tracked it for four years, I have never seen a drop like this. The only thing that was different about this month was that I was preaching on money.
This had led me to a few conclusions as I reflect on the series –
1. People, even Christian people, do not like to talk about money. This is precisely why we should talk about it. Whenever we hate a topic, that generally means it is something we are struggling within our soul.
2. People think they have money figured out. Why would anyone want to hear about how to handle their money biblically? I mean, doesn’t everyone know what the Bible says already? I have heard it before, and I plan on staying home. This seems to have been the general attitude, and yet it seems so far from the truth. Most people have no idea what the Bible really says about this one topic.
3. We are tired of people asking us to give. I know this one from experience. There is not a week goes by that someone, usually with a good cause, requests for financial support. As a result, we avoid any contact where we think we will be asked again.
4. Handling our money is a bigger spiritual issue than we care to admit. People frequently think of “growing spiritually” as serving in a ministry, learning more about their bible or feeling some new emotion. Frequently, growth means handling our regular issues, like money, in a more Godly way.
5. Talking about forgiveness and heaven are enjoyable – money, not so much. I like hearing that I can let go of my failures and spend eternity with Jesus. A sermon series on second chances and eternal life can pack the house. Sermons on money are not fun. Who wants to hear that they should not be materialistic? Who wants to give away their hard-earned money? Not me, I would rather stay home and watch the ballgame or whatever else is on TV.
These are some of the thoughts that keep running through my head as I think about this past month. My sermon series plan only puts finances on the agenda once every two years. Maybe I need to speak on it more regularly to help people grow in their faith. Perhaps I should do it less to keep the people coming. People may say they enjoyed the series or try to explain away what happened, but the facts don’t lie. This series was not well received, and I am not sure what to do about it. I know God will use it for his glory, but I am asking lots of questions and trying to learn from this past month.