I know that talking about money in church isn’t a popular thing. It can be a pretty touchy subject for a lot of people. Money has been used and abused for years – not only in politics, school systems and work places, but also in one of the organizations you should be able to trust the most: the church. Whether it’s TV preachers campaigning for luxury jets or just flat-out fraud, money mishandling in church is far more common than we wish. In fact, some of my closest friends have gone to churches where they found out money was being embezzled or used to buy drugs.

We recently set out to change the conversation about money in church. And for good reason…

Money is one of the leading causes of divorce in American culture.

Jesus said that money keeps many rich people out of heaven.

Jesus talked about money & possessions more than any other subject including heaven, hell, prayer and faith!

When Jesus repeats Himself, we should probably listen even more intently!

Our conversation about money took the form of a 3-week series called Loosen The Grip. Honestly, it has been one of my favorite and most-researched and prayed over series I’ve ever taught. I read quite a few books in preparation for the series, and prayed a lot. I always pray about what I’m teaching, but this one even more so, as I know people’s tendency to shy away from the subject.

God answered those prayers, as this series was very well-received and was life-changing on many levels. We even saw a few people surrender their lives to Christ during a series about money! After all, the series was never about raising funds; it was about surrendering hearts.

I can’t describe the power and life change that I believe will come from this series as many people chose (some for the first time ever) to take a step of faith and trust God for His provision.

Here are the top 10 principles on finances that we learned during this series…

God deserves my first and best.

To be even more accurate, He deserves 100%, but He asks for the first and the best. The Old Testament calls it the “tithe” (10%). We call it “the starting line.”

If I will be faithful with my finances, God promises to be faithful to my finances.

Malachi 3:10 is the only place in the whole Bible that God tells His people to test Him. He promises provision, but we have to take the first step of faith.

God’s blessing come from a choice, never by force.

God’s blessing and provision are waiting for anyone who wants to receive them, but He won’t force His blessing on you. He rewards obedience, but that involves loosening our grip.

The emptier my pockets get investing in eternity, the fuller my heart will become!

Having empty pockets doesn’t have to be a bad thing. When I get to heaven, I want to have invested as much as possible into things that will outlast me because the money God entrusted to me burned a hole in my heart!

Riches will fail me, but God will richly provide.

I can’t settle for trusting in or living for the gift instead of the Giver. We came into this world with nothing, and will take nothing with us. God is the only constant in this life.

It’s not about how much I have; it’s about what I do with it.

It’s easy to think of what we’d do if we won the lottery. But it’s not about the millions they have; it’s about the 100 thousand, 10 thousand or $10 we do have.

Giving on earth means gaining in heaven.

The Bible promises that as we are generous with what God has given us, we are storing up eternal treasures, laying a foundation for the future, and laying hold of true life (see 1 Timothy 6).

Giving is far less about my wallet than it is about my heart.

Giving is far more about my motivation than it is about my money. God wants us to give with our hearts, and to do so joyfully.

Everything I have to give I got from the Giver!

We get so that we can give. The only reason God has entrusted us with finances is so that we can represent our generous God with our generosity.

Joy is the natural result of heartfelt generosity.

When we recognize the privilege that it is to be invested in God’s work, it changes everything. We don’t have to give; we get to give!

Make sure to catch the whole 3-part series on the Awaken website. Also, if you’ve been blessed by the ministry of Awaken Church and would like to be financially invested, you can find out more about how we gave during the series at awakenchurch.org/loosenthegrip.

Here’s a look back at some of the highlights…