I have to say when I first saw the title, "There's Gold in them thar Pews," I thought it must be a parody on religion with regard to getting the faithful to part with their money. Certainly no one would actually promote a pastoral class on how to get more money out of a congregation with that title? If the average person in the pews, at least in the pews I am familiar with ever, for one moment even, read such a title, they would give less not more just to show the Pastor they were not sitting in the pews to be mined for Jesus. Alas, the article was serious and I'd like to take a moment to give the meaning behind the message as my experience as a Pastor in a denomination that all too well fleeced the flock and mined the Gold in "them thar pews."
The article begins..."Be encouraged: "There’s gold in them thar’ pews!
Sitting in your pews each week is a goldmine of resources waiting to be lovingly extracted and put to work for Christ. If your church’s giving is poor, I assure you it is not because your people are. They have far more money to give than you think.
The proof is in the results we have seen in the poorest of churches worldwide. When pastors in Zimbabwe, Africa, implemented the ten steps I am about to share with you, their giving increased 100 percent. In the Philippines, churches that used these steps saw giving increases of 100, 200, and almost 300 percent. Obviously, even the poorest of God’s people have money to give. They just need to be taught biblical stewardship."
I am not necessarily questioning the sincerity of those who advocate these ideas, but I do take exception to them. Motivating more giving than people were willing to do when asked the first time, can smack of motivation by fear, shame and guilt. I have seen it done all my life and it might work for a time, until it doesn't and there is hell to pay. Let's examine the meaning behind the admonitions to give until it hurts.
Step 1: Master the Biblical Principles of Stewardship. (Meaning: Know the Old Testament admonitions to tithe, and do not mention the "give as you can" principles throughout the New Tetsament. )
• Overcome a common misunderstanding of grace giving that keeps pastors from bold stewardship leadership. (Meaning: Get over feeling bad about asking for money. Most pastors hate having to deal with this, but you can do it. Be hard assed about it and use the appropriate scriptures to do the job for you.)
• Get clear on what the Bible really says about tithing and what to say that will stir your people to give much more than 10 percent. (Meaning: Force yourself to teach tithing. Avoid the New Testament idea of "let every man give as he is able." Teach "God loves a cheerful tither, not giver" Since God changes not, therefore we are not consumed, He wants you to push this Old Covenant principle. Use Malachi 3 to tell the people they are thieves and robbers if they give less than 10 percent.)
• Have your faith enlarged as you study God's amazing promises of emotional, spiritual, eternal, and financial rewards for the faithful giver. (Meaning: Force yourself to believe the unbelievable and that for which you have no direct proof really works this way. Be sure to tell the people the rewards that God pours out are not easily discerned or financial necessarily. Tell them, "You have air and water don't you?" Once they realize God could squash them like a bug by withholding air and water, they will be appreciative. Push the "you can't outgive God" idea. If God does not pour out more than they can take in, tell them it is obviously their fault and somehow they are displesing God. This keeps you off the hook for shaming them into giving to get from God.)
Step 2: Personally Follow the Biblical Principles of Stewardship. (Meaning: You're going to have to at least give a tithe yourself, and be sure they know you do, or they will not take kindly to your telling them to. You'll have to bite the bullet on this and practice what you preach. Remember, you are getting ten times more than you give back in a salary from these people, plus perks of a car and maybe even a place to live. What price can you put on that!)
• Be encouraged and challenged to give faithfully to your church, for your own good. (See above, and realize "for your own good" means "so that you can keep your job.")
• Learn why it is vital that you set the example of biblical giving. (Meaning: Because if they find out you aren't doing this, they won't and might kick you out.)
• See your personal story of faithful giving inspire your flock to similar generosity. (Meaning: Make up stuff to tell them about how blessed you are for giving 10 percent of the money they gave you in the first place. This is not easy and you'll have to be careful not to set off their common sense thought of "well yeah, he can say that because I helped him buy his car, house, boat, watch, food and kids summer camp experience." Be creative. Tell them you give a tithe of your income, plus more of course, and it just thrills you and saddens you at the same time you can't just work for free. This will bring tears of appreciation to their eyes, but some will say that's a good idea and want to cut your salary to really test your faith and sincerity.)
Step 3: Preach an Annual Stewardship Series. (Meaning: Begin the series the January and give twelve parts, one each month, so they never forget to tithe for very long. I know that a once a year series is an oxymoron, but it sounds better than remind them often.)
• Learn how and when to deliver an annual stewardship series that transforms your people from tippers to tithers in a few weeks, year after year. (Meaning: Learn to call "give as you are able" tipping. That's cute. It's also insulting, but don't worry about it. You need to motivate them with fear, shame and guilt quickly to prime the pump and get the flow going. This trinity of motivation, fear, guilt and shame should do the trick for years to come.)
• Preach a ready-to-use, biblical, expository sermon series that has proven to increase giving and to kindle spiritual renewal in hundreds of churches worldwide. (Meaning: Use tried and true methods of spiritual abuse. Don't reinvent the wheel. Remember how the Holy Trinity of Giving works. Make them afraid, make them ashamed and make them feel guilty.)