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. )
Step 4: Expose Your People to Stewardship Testimonies. (Meaning: Put pastoral ass kissing members up before the congregation to assure them that it works because they gave until it hurt, and darn if God didn't ordain them a deacon or elder soon after. ) Learn what the Bible really says about public giving testimonies and how you can unleash their enormous power during your stewardship series. (Meaning: I don't know what this means, but I don't find any public “tithing worked for me, it can work for you" testimonies in the Bible. There is a story of a couple who did not give 100 percent to the Church and Peter smote them dead but that never really happened. Great motivator as it says “Great fear came upon all the Churches, " but it is a parody about Peter a man who said he'd never leave Jesus and did, killing a couple who said they'd give all and didn't. You can't expect the congregation to understand the subtle messages of the book of Acts. ) Let the testimonies of faithful givers practically deliver the messages for you. (Meaning: You really don't have to do the work. Let the kiss ass members of your choosing do it for you. You won't have to feel bad for pushing people to give what they have not got, and your KA members can feel like they are converting the masses themselves. ) Use a sample stewardship testimony guide to help your people prepare theirs. (Meaning: Be sure to prompt the KA member to use tried and true phrases and stories that pull at the emotions and generate the proper fear, guilt and shame. Why reinvent the wheel? Use the tried and true to be sure the spontaneous and sincere testimonies of the member are right on the money. )
Step 5: Ask for a 10 Percent Commitment. (Meaning: Again, forget the “give as you are able" concept. ) Learn a method of asking for a generous giving commitment from your people that will move them to increase their giving ten-fold, overnight. (Meaning: Method is everything in fleecing the flock. We want this generous and spontaneous Holy Spirit led giving to start by next Sunday at the latest. ) Learn how to offer a money-back guarantee that captures imagination and galvanizes giving. (Meaning: OMG. . . did he say “money-back guarantee?" What am a buying, a washing machine? Can I get an extended warranty?) Use a sample commitment card you can personalize to collect your people's increased giving commitments. (Meaning: Keep track of what they give. This information will be useful to you in promoting your KA members and weeding out the losers. Don't let the government be the only one who understands the benefits of keeping track of what your members are giving and to whom. )
Step 6: Send Follow-up Letters to New Givers. (Meaning: People poop out on giving quickly once they realize they have been had their imaginations “captured" and their giving “galvanized. " You will have to keep them motivated as the emotions you whip up in sermons fade when their emotional chemistry returns to normal about an hour after the sermon. ) Personalize and distribute pre-written, sample follow-up letters to reinforce your people's new giving commitments. (Meaning: Make form letters look personal and keep their back to the wall on this. They promised to give, and damn it, give they will. )
Step 7: Pray For Your New Givers. (Meaning: Since we have covered the Pay part of being a good member of your congregation, we now must turn to the Pray part. Actually there are four parts to an obedient and compliant congregation. . . Pay-Pray-Obey and Stay. These four are implied in Pay and Pray, so do not bring them up in this way. We don't have to tell them everything we discuss at ministerial conferences. ) Tap into the power of believing prayer to bring God's blessing on your people as they launch out into new giving territory. (Meaning: Tell them over and over there really is power in prayer, even if they loose their jobs, can't pay for gas or food because of giving too much to the church after this series of once a year sermons. )
Step 8: Distribute Frequent Giving Records. (Meaning: Here comes the fear, guilt and shame aspect of effective giving. ) Use a simple and easy method to provide non-threatening accountability and encouragement to keep people giving generously throughout the year. (Meaning: make them feel accountability for what you talked them into doing. “Encouragement" here means “follow-up, " and pushing the Sheeple ever closer to the Sheerers. Remind them that they might feel shorn from time to time, but fleece grows back for a purpose and to get used to it. Again, make them feel accountable to give what they have not got, did not intend to give before you shamed them and do not really want to give but your follow up is so darn intimidating. )
Step 9: Use Estimates of Giving at Budget Time. (Meaning: Make them give you an idea of the total they will be giving so you can plan to spend more than you have for things the church did not ask for and does not need to be or do. After all, this is all about the minister and how well he grows his church to justify his pay and time for the money they church spends on him and his family. Don't ever let them figure out that a minister can be paid to make work and meaning for himself and poop out the congregation doing it. ) Unleash the power of estimates of giving at budget time to increase giving. (Meaning: Use the word “Unleash" often. It makes them feel like there is somekind of special power in them that even Superman would be jealous of. “Unleash" is a power word that will at least get them started. If that doesn't work, then you might have to go back to “galvanizing" them, until they can properly unleash. ) Personalize a sample estimate of giving card for use in your church. (Meaning: who cares what this means. ) Distribute and collect the cards to plan and implement an increased, realistic church budget, year after year. (Meaning: well, this is the first time I have seen the word realistic used in the contest of giving. )
Step 10: Teach Stewardship in New Members’ Classes. (Meaning: You can't be a member of this church, unless you FIRST understand your financial commitments to God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Us. ) Learn how to use your new members’ classes to get giving commitments from newcomers throughout the year. (Meaning: Leaning how to use the classes will enable you to better use the new members from now on. ) Teach from a sample stewardship lesson outline in your new members’ classes. (Meaning: which we can send you for a cut in the take from the Sheep. )
If you faithfully implement all ten of these steps in your church, you will be thrilled with the results. (Meaning: If you do what we tell you, YOU, but maybe not the members will be thrilled with the results, but we cannot guarantee the membership will be. )
Ok, I'm being a bit cheeky here but teaching the Pastor how to mine the “gold in them thar pews, " is offensive and insulting to the integrity of good people who really want to have a treasure worth giving to where their heart is. I have seen this “give til it hurts for the Church" mentality played out and if you are not careful you end up with short term gain and long term pain. There is a fine line between the impression we are asking for what we need to do our work for the Lord and Fleecing the Flock with “how to" methods that are “tried and true. " Be careful you don't leave a flock of naked, shivering sheep in your endeavor to enforce tried but often untrue in practical fact ideas upon them. You'll find that Sheep can grow teeth.