When pastors bring it up, parishioners often squirm in the pews, and pastors may feel anxious beforehand.
In fact, some ways of discussing money in parishes tend to do way more harm than good, according to the recent study Unleashing Catholic Generosity: Explaining the Catholic Giving Gap in the United States the University of Notre Dame Institute for Church Life.
For example, when pastors promote a “pay bills” culture that focuses on the parish’s needs (i.e. a new roof), there is often less spiritual engagement among parishioners, which leads to less financial giving.
Instead, the study encourages pastors to not focus on meeting basic needs, but rather on spiritual growth and personal transformation. It also suggests the parish should encourage parishioners to avoid separating their faith from their finances and instead view them together as gifts from God.
As stewards, that is the only way to look at God’s blessings. Whatever he generously provides us with, we should be grateful and respond accordingly by giving back – not because there is a specific need, but because we want to.