Recently I was listening to a podcast, and I heard something that I have never heard in all my years of ministry. The speaker makes his living as a Church consultant, and he shared an insight he had gained in thirty plus years of helping Churches.
He encouraged pastors to look at people’s giving to their Church. He said the people who will complain the most and leave the quickest are those who give the least or nothing at all. In fact, he said he could almost predict who would not be a part of a particular Church in the future based on the amount of money they gave to it now.
He then went on to mention something Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 (New International Version, 2011). Usually, we apply this passage to the general kingdom of God. People who invest financially in the kingdom of God in all its forms will have a greater sense of connection to God’s work in the world than those who do not. It is also valid on the local level. If you give to the local Church you attend, then you have a greater sense of connection there too. Simply put, people who do not give to the work of the local Church will be the first to leave that setting for another location.
As a pastor, I have felt this in my soul for years. I have never done the research, and honestly, I have never looked at anyone’s giving statement. I had a hunch that people who left never had a deep connection, and I could not put my finger on precisely what happened. For the first time, I think I have an answer.
This man’s concept was straightforward: follow the money. Wherever people invest their money, their heart gets attached. If they are not connected to the Church I lead, it might very well be because of their money.
In one way, I am a little relieved. I always worried that I was something I was doing wrong. Perhaps the problem is not with me, but with those who leave. Maybe it is time for all of us to do an honest evaluation of our finances. Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.