My heart bleeds for the leader of the modern American church doing their best to further the kingdom of God by reaching the lost, while discipling and caring for God's people. We are competing with many materialistic tendencies that pull people away from God and towards "stuff". We appear to be a society that parallels the Church in Laodicea very much. We also must fight the guilt of preaching about giving, even when we know it is Biblical, due to "unchurched" or "burned churched" or just plain "disgruntled churched" who do not want to hear about "giving" (I was one of them!), some for valid reasons, others just due to selfishness and distance from the Lord.
Growing up in the ministry and serving as a deacon, elder, trustee, and board member, I come face to face with the issues you struggle with and face on a daily basis in the Church. I have a burden to help and support today's Pastors with stewardship and giving issues. That is why I believe God kept giving me fresh teachings on Biblical giving. My intention was only to write a couple of chapters in my book Ease the Squeeze on the subject of stewardship and giving. If you look at the chapter outlines, you will see I cover these topics quite exhaustively. I believe I speak to these topics from a perspective from someone who has lived their struggles (debt, budgeting, stress, family pressures, turned off by teachings on tithing and giving), and encourage them with my testimony, yet challenge them in love with God's perspective from the scriptures.
You will note in the seminar testimonials from other Pastors (and attendee's), that I challenge the people with the Word of God, and offer practical applications that include my personal testimony in giving (from 0 to 30%!). I do not coerce or manipulate, and there are no high pressure gimmicks. I just teach the Word. It is still powerful today--sharper than any two-edged sword. My testimony of God's faithfulness and blessings will encourage the people to give obediently, cheerfully and liberally.
I say this humbly and with great sadness, but I believe there is a scarcity of authentic teaching on the subject of giving. Pastors have been put in SUCH a difficult situation as I discuss in my book. They have to practically "raise" their own support from the sheep, and then care for those same sheep-- with no favoritism, pure motives, and an expectation from some that the pastor should "just trust God" with the topic of money, and from others that they should just "preach it fire and brimstone".
The numbers speak for themselves. I quote a number of George Barna's recent giving statistics, and giving by the "church" continues to drop. The average American pays $1000 a year in interest and only gives $754 a year! Many churches have succumbed to high pressure fund-raising and gimmickry, others are truly not knowing what to do, but knowing they need to do SOMETHING!
I empathize with your challenges. I really believe Ease the Squeeze will be of assistance to you. If not let me know and I will refund your money. I do not charge for live seminars or teachings when sponsored by a local church (love offering and nominal travel only), because I want to be a blessing to the Pastor. In turn the seminars provide a much needed blessing to the people, by assisting them with getting out of debt, setting up a budget, handling the struggles of materialism and idolatry, and managing their money from a biblical perspective. Yet, they also provide an opportunity for an "outsider" to bring a sound, biblical, challenging call to give. I also like to offer an opportunity to accept Christ at each seminar, which provides an "excuse" for people to reach out to their sphere of influence.
I would love to assist you. I pray that you will know that God is FOR YOU! He is not against you. He has not left you, nor forsaken you. His arm is not too short. Nothing is too difficult for Him! Our God is an AWESOME GOD!
Thanks for listening. You are in my prayers!
Proverbs 3: 5-6
P.S. "Note to pastors--if you are not teaching about money, giving, or financial principles, I can assure you that someone else is teaching your flock--probably incorrectly."
- excerpt from Ease the Squeeze, page 126
"Ease the Squeeze is a wonderful book that I would highly recommend. It is full of examples, tools, interesting quotations, research, and practical helps that have been a great assistance to individuals of all income levels and age groups. The thorough and practical approach is not only "user friendly" by outlining the steps to true, biblical financial freedom, but it highlights pitfalls and lessons learned. Doug's personal and financial testimony is dynamic, and I am pleased to know the impact he is making. The book and Financial Foundation Seminars will continue to be especially helpful to Christian leaders, teachers, and pastors as a resource and tool that will help people plan their futures--both financially and in general. Though I am impressed by Doug's writing, teaching, interviewing and communicating skills, what impresses me the most is his humbleness, Christ-likeness, and priority to ensure that God receives the glory for all that has been accomplished through this vital ministry! There has never been a more critical time for Christians and Americans alike to develop a Life Plan, a Giving Plan and a Financial Plan!"
- Marlin Maddoux, veteran Christian Radio Journalist since 1972, a noted speaker, author and recipient of the "National Religious Broadcasters Award of Merit."