What to say and not to say when you talk about (gulp) money.

A Madison Avenue advertising firm surveyed nonchurched people a few years ago and asked them their impressions of church. "The problem with church," respondents said, "is that the people are always sad, or they talk about death, or they ask for money."

In response to these prevailing attitudes, many churches today are upbeat, don't say much about death, and rarely broach the offensive subject of money.

Of course, a desire for evangelistic effectiveness is not the only reason we preachers are reluctant to talk about money. Many people, both inside the church and out, feel money is filthy lucre. One layman boasted to me that in the ten years his pastor had been there, the pastor had never once preached on money, but the church had done well financially. The thinking seems to be, If we can get by without talking about money, all the better.

Finally, there's our ever-present nervousness that listeners will perceive we are benefiting ...

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