Are you a preacher who would like to get more comfortable with preaching about money? Then I have a deal for you!  I sat down with Rev. Trista Soendker-Nicholson, Foundation board member and self-proclaimed preaching nerd, to pick her brain about how to preach through a generosity campaign.  Our hope is that some of these ideas can help shape your craft of preaching and increase generosity in your church.

Whether it’s a one-time sermon or an entire series, here are some of Trista’s tips for success as you prepare to talk to your congregation about giving and generosity:

  1. Choose a theme for your sermon and infuse it into the service. Infuse the theme not just in your sermon but also through the liturgy, images, music and prayers. Knowing that each person learns and hears differently, the more elements you infuse around the theme, the more opportunities for people to experience and relate to your message. If you’re doing a series, infuse it into the entire series.
  2. Tell stories of how giving to the church lives out its mission. Pack your sermon with stories of how the generosity in your church has impacted the lives of others. The stories can be about individuals or about when everyone comes together to give or receive. The point is, the story is about real people giving, real people receiving, and the spirit moving in the midst of it all. Stories like these touch hearts, changes lives and can be one of the most powerful preaching tools you can use.
  3. Connect giving to spirituality. As Christians we give as part of God’s transformational work in the world. Giving, and giving generously, is an opportunity for God’s work to be done through us. Giving is a way to see the fruits of our gifts multiply in a practical, tangible way.

    Prayer is also a way to connect giving to spirituality. Encouraging your congregation to have an honest conversation with God about what they have been given, how they can give to others and then asking God to open their eyes to see both! Some churches use prayer prompts throughout the week in social media post, emails or postcards to draw people into this spiritual practice. The prompts might say, “God, I’m thankful for ____________.” “God, who is it that I need to be helping?” “Jesus, open my eyes to help me see how I’m blessed and how I’m to be a blessing to others.”
  4. Connect your generosity message to the Bible.  Using a theme helps make a connection, but more importantly, the preacher needs to embody the scripture to preach it in a way that relates to the world now.  As Trista puts it, “People sometimes find it difficult to see the connections between a Biblical text written so long ago and modern life. But we, as preachers, have the opportunity to make those connections, showing that it is the living word of God!” As preachers, this challenges us each to know our scriptural text and our ministry context!
  5. Be aware of your context. This is especially true as we preach about giving and generosity in 2020.  We are tone deaf if we don’t address and speak to the fact we are living in a time where people are losing their jobs, dealing with loneliness and struggling with grief. Life is hard for people right now. If we do not address that it’s difficult and give honest correlations to scripture, it’s a disservice to the text and to our people.  Just the same, it’s during this difficult year we are also seeing God provide through the generosity of our communities. Scripture has a lot to say about that as well!

Would you like to learn more about preaching on generosity and other difficult topics?  Mark your calendars for February 22-24 to participate in the Preach Academy brought to you by the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Missouri United Methodist Foundation.