This Sunday, I'll preach my annual stewardship sermon.
This is my 24th January in Hayward. 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 be nice for you to be nice back." And all God's children scratched their heads and said, "Huh?"
The first time I ever preached on financial stewardship, a rotund lady with a red face stormed up after the service and reamed me out. "Money! Money! Money! All you preachers every talk about is money!"
I had gone over 120 weeks and not mentioned it once -- and then I got clobbered for "money grubbing." She must have watched way too many television evangelists.
For the next few years, I dreaded the January money message, because some touchy person might be 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 includes how to handle money. Jesus, himself, spoke more about money/ possessions than he did about heaven and hell combined. It's the topic of 16 of his 38 parables.
There are 500 verses in the Bible about prayer, less than 500 about faith, and over 2000 about money. So, it's reasonable for a pastor 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 share what God's Word says about giving. 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 rant at me after the church service, that only proves my point. It shows me you have an inordinate affection for money, and you need to surrender it to God. It proves that you are not mature -- because mature people are unselfish, generous and don't react that way."
Since I've started saying this, I'm happy to report, there have been no further "post-stewardship sermon poundings."