This past Sunday, I preached my annual Money Sermon. I've done this every January for the past 19 years.
This is my 21st January in Hayward, but my first two years I was too chicken to talk about financial generosity. The closest I got was "God is nice to you, so it would certainly be nice for you to be nice back to Him." And all God's children scratched their heads and said, "Huh??"
The first time I ever preached on financial stewardship, a livid lady with a red face stormed up after the service and reamed me out. "Money! Money! Money! When will you preachers quit talking about money??"
I had gone over 120 weeks and not mentioned it once -- and then I got clobbered for "money grubbing." She must have been watching way too much Christian television.
For the next few years, I dreaded the January Money Message, because some touchy person would always get offended and blow a gasket.
Then, I finally figured it out. It's not my problem!
I am called to preach the whole counsel of God -- and that certainly includes how to handle your money. Jesus, himself, spoke more about money and possessions than he did about heaven and hell combined. It's the topic of 16 of his 38 parables.
There are about 500 verses in the Bible about prayer, less than 500 about faith, and over 2000 about money. Certainly, then, it is not unreasonable for a preacher to bring it up once a year on Stewardship Sunday.
I've found a way to approach it, where people don't flip out and yell at me after church.
I preface my annual stewardship sermon with something like this:
"I'm just going to tell you what God's Word says about your money. The love of money can twist our hearts, and distort our thinking, so we're not seeing straight. If you get offended by what I say this morning, and come up to me and rant after the church service, that only proves my point. It shows me that you have an inordinate affection for money, and you need to surrender that to God. It proves that you are not mature -- because mature people are unselfish and generous and they don't act that way."
Since I've started saying that, I'm glad to report, there have been no further "post-stewardship sermon poundings."