Matthew Tennant on Preaching about the Economy

Matthew Tennant offered a valuable perspective on preaching about the economy in yesterday’s teleconference. A couple of items that particularly struck me: I asked him how we can pay more attention to the financial media, as he suggests, without getting too anxious. He talked about two realities: first, “it’s happened before, and people survived it. We will get through this recession.” He talked about his grandmother and her experience of the Great Depression, and what she learned from that about the need to save for a rainy day, and the way she was never caught short because of it. Second, our own faith, our trust in God – “We talk about God each week, about God’s grace and God’s providence.” Paying attention to the financial realities is “less about the anxiety of the news and more about how we’re living out our faith.” Tennant also talked about the way he tries to humanize the news for himself. For example, in paying attention to the Greek debt crisis, he has been thinking about what it is like for the average Greek person in this situation: “Can they buy olive oil, how does it feel, what is it like?” He finds this reflection ends in prayer.

We also talked about the tension in preaching about money and the economy between wanting more for people in their financial life, while not getting judgmental or willful toward them. Tennant suggest, “Try to be honest in the pulpit, don’t go into it with an ulterior motive.” He suggests focusing on “what is God trying to say through this passage.” This, he says, is more powerful than trying to impose our will on others. He adds, “Loving people where they are creates an atmosphere of listening.” So, people know when we accept them, and are more able to hear what we are saying from the pulpit.

The recording of the teleconference is available. E-mail me at, and I’ll send you the link.

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