I can't remember the last time I went to a church service where I was not asked for money.
Sometimes it's the traditional ushers "passing the plate" and giving you the stink eye if you don't contribute--other times it's the more hip, "we can't do what we do and reach the people that we reach without your money" line. Televangelists, traditionalists, emergents--it doesn't matter--you all share the same common denominator. I always get the same implicit message: "God wants you to give us your money". The whole thing bothers me. It frustrates me because I feel like somehow God is being sold to me--like a used car.*
However--all of my frustration aside--as I study Christianity it's hard to deny the fact that Jesus was (and Christianity should be) all about giving. If we are truly following our founder, then we Christ-followers should be giving away as much of ourselves and our possessions as we can (and that includes our money). We are called to be radically, irrationally generous; our view of material things should be diametrically opposed to selfish ambition. While many are trying to attain as much money as possible; our goal should be to give away as much as possible. Christ gave everything (including His life); I think we can afford to reach into our wallets.
So, to all you preachers, teachers, and church leaders--may I humbly submit a prayerful suggestion? Talk about money more, not less. Preach about giving; teach about money; ask us to give more. Challenge us, not only to give---but to give sacrificially, to give until it hurts. But do it for the right reason. Ask us to give because it's healthy for us and good for the world--not because it's funds your church. Ask us to give--not because you need our money--but because giving makes our hearts more like Christ. Do you want an easy way to check your motives? Do you want a fool-proof way to confront those sceptics who suspect you of being a religious gold-digger? Here it is: Ask us to give to that church or charity across town that you are totally unaffiliated with. *At the risk of sounding like bragging--but solely in the interest of preemptively answering a very legitimate response to my frustration--I should say that my wife and I currently set aside 10% of our income for God's work. For the vast majority of my life (with one notable period of exception) I have always faithfully tithed. This post is not about me justifying my selfishness (although God knows there is plenty of that in me).