If You Want To Get Over Your Fear of Talking About Money, Here’s How

moneyIf you’re like most leaders, you have a love/hate relationship with talking about money.

Mostly you hate it.

This is especially true of church leaders, but it’s also true of corporate leaders.

The only part of money most leaders like is having enough to fund your mission or company well. But talking about it? Well, it’s awkward, stressful, confusing and frustrating.

Recently I was speaking at a conference and asked leaders what their #1 pain point was. A surprising number said it was raising enough money for their organization.

And that’s a problem because underfunded organizations always starve their mission.

Underfunded organizations always starve their mission. Click To Tweet

Talking about money has been a difficult skill to develop for myself personally.

First of all, I wasn’t great at it in my marriage. In the early days, financial conversations were usually challenging conversations.

Second, as a pastor, it terrified me to talk about money, even though the churches I led in my early ministry were broke (one of the churches had an annual budget of $4500. Yes, that was the annual budget). Why was I scared? Because all the negative stereotypes and churches and money swirled around in my head, paralyzing me.

But over time I’ve learned that not talking about money is far harder than talking about money.

Not talking about money means you’ll likely remain broke or underfunded as a ministry, and chances are so will the people you lead.

So how do you overcome your fear of talking about money?

Here are 7 insights that helped me immensely. I hope they can help you.

Not talking about money means you'll likely remain broke or underfunded as a ministry, and chances are so will the people you lead. Click To Tweet

1. Talking about money should be normal because the people you lead talk about it every day

Think about it. Do you know a person who doesn’t talk about money in some way every day?

You do. I do.

Whether it’s giving the kids their lunch money, what to grab for dinner or whether to take a vacation this summer, most of us have financial conversations every single day.

Talking about money is normal.

There’s hardly a family in your church, community or company that doesn’t have a daily dialogue about money. People talk about it, argue about it, try to make their plans around it and even divorce over it.

And mostly they do it in a theological and practical vacuum because few leaders will talk about it.

Think they don’t want to talk about it?

Well, consider Dave Ramsey for a moment. He has one of the top radio shows, podcasts and financial companies in the world because every single day thousands of people decide it’s time to reach out for financial help.

Dave has basically dealt with the same handful of issues every single day and answered variations of the same questions every week for decades.

Why? Because people have the same money problems day after day in family after family.

Talking about money is normal for most families, and as a result, it should be normal for most leaders.

Talking about money is normal for most families, and as a result, it should be normal for most leaders. Click To Tweet

2. Talking about how to deal with money is pastoral care

Could it be that your reluctance to talk about money is costing people their marriages? Reports continue to show that money issues are a top reason families break up.

If you won’t help people figure out how to handle their personal finances, who will?

For Christian leaders, the scripture is packed with practical advice and missional claims on personal finances that can literally change people’s lives.

Why hold out on people? Who will bring them help or hope if you don’t?

Helping people solve their money problems is much better pastoral care than supporting them through divorce or constant financial strain.

And as an employer, when you have team members who struggle with money, they bring all that stress to work. You better believe it impacts their attitude and performance.

Helping people solve their financial problems is a deep form of pastoral care.

Helping people solve their money problems is much better pastoral care than supporting them through divorce or constant financial strain. Click To Tweet

3. What you do for people is more important than what you ask  from them

Most church leaders only talk about money when they need money.

Cue the buzzer.

If talking about money is always about getting people to meet your needs, no wonder people roll their eyes when you open your mouth.

Instead, start talking about what you want for people financially, not just what you want from them. (Thank you Jeff Henderson.)

What does this look like?

Over the years, I’ve told people that our church wants to help them to save for retirement, save for their kid’s college education, and pay cash for their next vacation.

At first, people were shocked that a church actually wanted them to spend money on something other than church.  And when we offered practical training on how to accomplish their goals with money, hundreds of families got out of debt and learned how to both live with margin and live on mission.

When people know you’re for them, it’s much easier for them to get behind the mission. Plus they end up with more money to do so.

Most church leaders only talk about money when they need money. Cue the buzzer. Click To Tweet

4. Talking about money slays idols, including yours

If the world (and church) have an idol, money is a prime candidate.

So know you’re going to get push back when you address it.

One of the benefits of helping people with their finances and brokering a conversation about money is that you’ll help break the power of an idol in our culture and church.

The key for church leaders, of course, is to make sure the process of attacking an idol, money doesn’t become your idol.

But generous giving and generous living is a great way to break down the power of an idol in your own life and in the lives of everyone in your church. For me personally, generosity is the best antidote to greed.

As you slay the idol of money in your own life and help your church do the same, expect some push back. Many people would rather you never talk about it.

But my guess is here’s what you’ll find: the people who complain the most when you talk about money are usually the people who give the least.

Which is exactly why you need to talk about it.

The people who complain the most when you talk about money are usually the people who give the least. Click To Tweet

5. People want to be generous. They just don’t know how.

On a more hopeful note, you’ll discover most people want to be generous. They just don’t know how.

Think about it, if you can’t make your minimum credit card payments, even a $20 donation to the food bank seems out of reach.

When you help people get their finances in order, generosity can get unleashed.

More people want to be generous than you think. They just need help to be able to get there.

Most people want to be generous. They just don't know how. Click To Tweet

6. Raising the level of vision raises the level of giving

One of the reasons leaders who try to raise money get frustrated is that they focus on raising money. That’s a really tough road to travel down.

Instead, if you want to raise the level of giving, raise the level of vision.

People don’t give to uninspiring visions.

People don't give to uninspiring visions. Click To Tweet

7. Unchurched people are more open to conversations on money than you realize

Because most of our growth at our church comes from unchurched people, people ask me all the time: “But what about unchurched people? Don’t they cringe when churches talk about money?”

Well, sure, sometimes.

But don’t forget, unchurched people talk about money every day and have all the challenges associated with their finances most people do.

They just don’t expect the church to help them.

If you practice the principles shared in this post, you’ll quickly discover that unchurched people are grateful that you talk about money and often become some of your most generous donors. And yes, this applies to young adults too. Some of the most generous givers in the next generation of churches are in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

Focusing on what you want for people, not just from them, makes all the difference in the world.

Talk About Money (And Everything Else) Better

art of better preaching

If you want to go deeper into the art of better preaching—whether that’s talking about money or week-in, week-out preaching, Mark Clark and I would love to help.

Mark and I put the best of what we know about preaching into our online, on-demand course, The Art of Better Preaching.

Every week, Mark and I preach to thousands of churched and unchurched people, Mark at Village Church in Vancouver BC, and me at Connexus Church north of Toronto. We have very different styles, which means this course is not a preach-just-like-me approach to preaching. And both churches are reaching many unchurched people in a thoroughly post-modern context.

You can customize it to help you preach better messages, and it draws from the rich tradition of different approaches that actually connect with unchurched people. Plus, we share our best secrets on how to craft the best messages we know how to create.

In the course, Mark and I cover:

  • How to Preach to the Unchurched
  • How to Give a Talk Without Using Notes
  • The Why and How of Preaching
  • How to Craft a Killer Bottom Line So People Remember Your Talk Years Later
  • How to Stay Fresh over the Long Haul

And much more.

We’re so excited to help you become the best communicator you can be.

Sunday’s coming. Reach the churches and unchurched without selling your soul.

Click here to learn more and gain instant access to The Art Of Better Preaching!

What About You?

So…what issues are you encountering in the conversation around money?

What would you add to this list? Leave a comment!

If You Want To Get Over Your Fear of Talking About Money, Here’s How


  1. Chuck Fenwick on March 11, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    I will add another thought to this thread. I already said that my wife is leading a Financial Peace U class right now. Week 2 talks about debt. “What would you be able to do if you didn’t have debt?” 2 people from our class said they had NEVER thought about it. NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT IT!!!! That’s because they assumed everyone always has debt and that’s just the way life is. I guess the takeaway for me is that we absolutely have to get past our issues with talking about money. Our communities need us. They probably don’t even realize how badly they need us to talk about money.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 11, 2020 at 8:52 pm

      That’s a great point, Chuck!

  2. francis ngoboka on February 27, 2020 at 7:41 am

    thanks for great lessons.I learn and teach others.

  3. Chuck Fenwick on February 24, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    I’m a pastor of a small-ish church (250-300 on Sundays) and my wife started leading a financial peace university class.
    We started the class because we wanted to use the same filter that Carey and his team uses. “Is it helpful?” Simply put, we wanted to give people something that was helpful for them and their families. Not to benefit us (“The Church”), but to benefit “them.”
    The class filled up so quickly she had to start a second one on a different night. Now a 3rd one using their teens edition.
    The point? People may not always like talking about money, but it’s happening and they really do want practical help.
    I know there are other programs that are also great so I’m not saying FPU is the only good one.
    Please do something though.
    Our people are crying for it.
    If you listen long enough, you’ll hear their cries.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 24, 2020 at 10:16 pm

      Love it!

    • CV on February 26, 2020 at 8:03 am

      What is the FPU program that you stere referring to please? I would like to check it out for the purpose of teaching myself and eventually others about handling money. Thanks!

      • Chuck Fenwick on February 26, 2020 at 8:17 am

        Financial Peace University. Carey mentions Dave Ramsey in the post and “FPU” is a program that Dave started several years ago. It was a life changer for my family several years ago. Now I’m seeing it help others. There’s nothing “profound” about the program except for its simplicity. if you google financial peace, you’ll see exactly what it is and how it works. He also has other resources as well. It’s all Christian based, but it’s a great program regardless of belief.
        Hope that helps!

  4. Jacob on February 24, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    Your math is wrong. 10% of $1000 a month is $100 a month, not $100 a week. So you are left with $900 a month.

    • Jacob on February 24, 2020 at 12:44 pm

      The comment on tithing was for Kenneth

  5. Robert Cates on February 24, 2020 at 9:26 am

    Thanks for the wise into. As you know, my ministry is helping pastors and churches grow. A few weeks ago, I asked the Lord to give me wisdom on helping Pastors preach on generosity without preaching to or at the people. I already had a 4 sermon series ready. He gave me a way-PTL.

    Robert Cates, Founder
    Helping Pastors and Churches Grow

  6. Kenneth Gray on February 23, 2020 at 10:02 pm

    It is impossible to give anything when you are living well under the poverty line. Christian’s, as I was taught, must give 10% of their income weekly. Here is my problem, this is an example. Your income is let’s say $1,000 per month. That means that my tithes are $100 per week. A four week month will require $400, and a five week month would require $500. That ends up being 40% to 50% of of my total income. My rent is $700+ a month, Well as you can see the math doesn’t add up, that’s not including food, bills, transportation, etc. On top of this burden, Christians are also supposed to make offerings to the Church. Now don’t forget the costs associated with helping the poor, which is also demanded of Christians. By the time Christian’s pay all of these things, there is nothing left. The way things are means that a lot of people, like me, can’t afford to even go to church. Christians have to be rich to afford to be a “proper” Christian. I like to think I am a Christian, but my finances say I am a terrible excuse for a Christian. And most churches demand this. If you can’t afford it you get shunned and looked down on. I’ve even heard about churches that monitor their parishioners finances to ensure they pay the right amount of tithes. This is why a lot of people believe that the church is corrupt, because money is all that people hear when churches ask for money. Thank you and God Bless You.

    • Roger Napue on March 10, 2020 at 6:24 pm

      Hey Kenneth…I read your email and thought I would share my thoughts. You are right about there being some churches that monitor parishioners finances to ensure they are tithing. I, personally, have been acquainted with churches that do that. You are also correct, in that so many Christians are taught that they “MUST” give 10%. I am a facilitator for Biblical Stewardship in my church, using material from Crown, Compass1 and other Christian related material. In my experience, most attendees have been taught as you have…..I can’t afford to tithe…I don’t make enough to tithe…etc. The Christian community can, sometimes, be so legalistic about some things. So many pastors are reluctant to speak on biblical finances because of the attitudes of their congregations. Likewise, so many congregations don’t get the full understanding of biblical finances because they’ve never been taught. I commend you for desiring to be a good steward of God’s resources. I do believe, however, that God desires a cheerful giver, not someone who is so stressed and frazzled about giving that they get discouraged and give up because of so much outside pressure. It’s been said that we Christians are the only group that shoots their wounded. God calls us to love one another. Learning to tithe is like learning to ride a bicycle. You didn’t come into the world knowing how to ride a bike. Your first bike most likely came with training wheels. Why? Because you firs t had to learn how to balance and coordinate the bike until you became comfortable enough to control the bike on your own. Then the training wheels came off. How about tying your shoes? You didn’t just lace your shoes the first time. Someone had to show you how. Then after enough times you were able to lace them on your own with confidence. Learning to tithe is similar. It’s learning to trust God with what’s already His. A person who is new to tithing needs to begin a step-by-step process. What is the income? What is the outgo? Monthly expenses? Where can they cut back? After everything is looked at, maybe this individual is able to cheerfully give 3% at this time. Then give that 3% with a goal of 5%. As the individual begins to see what God can do with 5%, then move toward a goal of 10%. Remember, this is a learning process. A person new to Biblical Stewardship cannot be expected to jump out of the gate like another person who is already mature and experienced in that area. If you find that you are being shunned and looked down on in the area of Biblical Stewardship, you may want to question if this is where you belong. I hope this helps you, my brother in Christ.

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