Book Review: God vs. Money by Clif Christopher

by | August 15, 2018

In his book, God vs. Money, Horizons’ founder, Clif Christopher draws on his experience as a member of the US Army to create a powerful metaphor intended to examine a potent enemy of the church—greed. In his typical direct, take-no-prisoners communication style, Christopher proclaims the theater of combat is our society that saturates our daily lives with messages of needing more stuff. Christopher uses “war language” to convey the importance of defeating the most significant deterrent to building disciples in our churches and ultimately funding the church’s mission.


Christopher says, “I truly believe that we must take the attack upon our Christian values by a greedy, self-serving society very seriously.”


Clif Christopher, who is an ordained minister of The United Methodist Church, pushes heavily on pastors to act as “drill instructors” who should model for others a generous life. Despite being subject to the same barrage of messages from the enemy, pastors must resist temptation and live a generous life. Pastors should be able to preach and teach biblical stewardship principles and draw from personal and authentic experiences.


Pastors are drill instructors who should model for others a generous life.

In subsequent chapters, Christopher expands on his metaphor to describe strategies for defeating the enemy in “the combat zone.” Fighting against the “you can have it all” mentality, the church must face the enemy head-on and counter the message of more is better. In God vs. Money, Christopher provides ample tools that can be immediately applied in every church to defeat the enemy grow disciples.


God vs. Money is a must-read for every pastor, stewardship chair, finance committee member, and church leader who wants to meet greed on the battlefield and reclaim biblical stewardship principles.


Here’s what church leaders are saying about God vs. Money:

Clif Christopher has done it again! In his usual direct and clear way, Clif calls the church and its leaders to engage the struggle of “God vs. Money” head on in a faithful and discipled way. I recommend this book as a “must read” for clergy and lay leaders alike who wish to lead congregations into lives of generosity and grace.


Carl Frazier, Jr., Lead Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Cary, North Carolina.


Books do not always mirror their author’s intent, God vs. Money does! Christopher’s book reads like a jeremiad. It is a “call to arms.”  It is challenging clergy and congregations to declare war against the cultural god Mammon. It is also a training manual for growing generous congregations and disciples: people who make worship a priority, prayer a daily practice, giving testimony a way of living, community service a moral obligation and tithing a requirement of church membership. Read and imagine how such congregations might alter the landscape of a community…even the world.


Bill Enright, Emeritus Founding Executive Director of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving at the Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. Former Senior Pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis. Bill is the author of Kitchen Table Giving: Reimagining How Congregations Connect With Their Donors.


For those of us who have learned from him for many years, this book is vintage Christopher! Again he shares very practical wisdom about the gospel, the church and money in an extended metaphor of spiritual warfare. Its sense of urgency for the mission of the church is compelling!


Scott Jones, Bishop, Texas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church


God vs. Money is a must read battle plan for pastors and lay leaders who need to confront the ‘God of Materialism.’ It will equip them to discredit a god who preaches that all you need for happiness and fulfillment is a credit card and lots of stuff. It will help them focus their preaching or teaching on the God of Jesus who lived a spirit of generosity.


Charles Cloughen, Jr, Episcopal Priest, Planned Giving Officer-Diocese of Maryland, and author of One Minute Stewardship: Creative Ways to Talk About Money in Church.


[God vs. Money] is an excellent book and Clif is so on with what he is talking about. I do a lot of Sunday morning sermons on Stewardship and Generosity in churches all over the state of Nebraska. One of the first things that I remind them of is that everything they possess is God’s. I had a gentleman come up to me several weeks ago, and he thank me for the “pearls of wisdom” and for reminding him of what he has is God’s. He told me that he had forgotten that and it was good to be reminded.

I have several of Clif’s books and often use them as references in my talks. The church IS in dire trouble because they have forgotten why they give! Excellent, excellent book. I enjoy reading his books because they are easy to read, and he lays it out. You never have to guess trying to read between the lines. To the point and clear! I have always admired that about the way he writes. I most certainly endorse this book, and I will be purchasing one for the office.


Anita Crisp, Executive Director, Nebraska United Methodist Foundation


Clif Christopher is not only my “go to guy” when it comes to the stewardship of money, he’s also a long-time friend. I’ve read every book he’s written and each time I think it’s his best one. God vs. Money is no different. It’s a winner! Clif utilizes his experience as a pastor and chaplain in the military to lay out a life plan for raising up generous disciples. He declares war on the ungrateful life. You don’t want to miss this one.


Bill Easum, Founder and President of The Effective Church Group and author of over 21 books including co-authoring Dinosaur to Rabbits: Turning Mainline Decline to a Multiplication Movement.



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Everything you need to inspire generosity.


The Top 5 Ways To Accidentally Reduce Church Giving

In my over forty years of ministry, I have never heard a pastor say he/she has more money than the church needs. I have certainly found pastors who shared that their people were very generous or that they had out-given their budget, but never that they had too much. The mission is too big and the need is too great to not always need more. Yet every year I come across dozens of pastors and laypeople who are doing things that absolutely reduce church giving.


Are you doing things right now that unintentionally reduce giving in your congregation?


Here are five ways to accidentally reduce church giving:


1 – Emphasizing numerical targets versus missional objectives.

I have seen so many pastors encourage their people to give “an increase,” “do 3% more,” or “help us balance the budget.” The facts are that people today just do not care whether you achieve some arbitrary target or not. They want their gift to have impact and change lives. Spend your energy sharing with people how their giving to the church will make the world a better place.


2 – Publishing church giving figures in the bulletin and/or newsletter.

This sends a signal to all that this is what you really are about. You are wanting to bring in more than you send out. It says nothing about your mission and it usually appears to reflect an unhealthy church because you are behind for the year. Facts are 90% of all churches are behind until December. It is normal, not a sign of impending death. Just stop doing it.


3 – Using a line item budget to communicate with the congregation.

There is nothing about a line item budget that helps your people understand what you are truly doing in ministry. From appearances it seems that all that you are supporting are some people and a building. Line item budgets should be used only by the finance people. Distribute a missional budget to the congregation.


4 – Apologizing or joking prior to delivering sermons on money.

When Moses came down from the mountain and saw the golden calf that the people had made to worship, he did not make a joke about it or apologize for what he was about to say. He was forceful and direct and they knew he meant what he was saying. There was no misunderstanding that he considered this a very serious matter. They had put worshipping a golden calf ahead of worshipping God. Your people are doing this every day that they choose money over God. It is a big deal. People need your help to give up that which they love more than God. Quit acting like it really does not matter.


5 – Thinking that “not knowing” what people give is a righteous act.

For some reason pastors think people will think more of them if they deny themselves knowledge of individual gifts. This behavior will keep you from putting the right people in leadership, being able to diagnosis spiritual health in persons, and thanking people when they truly need and often expect thanks.


Now, go forth and quit doing those things that hurt the Kingdom!




Have you missed the first installments of the Giving Intelligence video series?

If you’ve missed the beginning of the Giving Intelligence series, they can be found on Giving365 which is a free subscription from Horizons Stewardship that includes this new video series, blogs, ebooks, webinars, and more! Subscribers receive bi-monthly blogs including information on best practices, the latest trends in giving, and helpful tools to use immediately to grow giving. In addition, Horizons’ team of Ministry Strategists will share their insights and expertise through a series of webinars. To access more of Horizons’ free stewardship resources, click the Giving365 logo below.
Giving365 - Blog - Horizons - church stewardship resource


The blog was updated from the original published April 29, 2017.



Are you Ready to Lead “A Generous Life”? (An Excerpt from A Generous Life)

Eyes Wide Open by Scott McKenzie

The Village Inn in Malawi, Africa, provided attacking wolf spiders, bats, bed bugs, holes in the ceilings, broken bathroom fixtures, and all the cold water you could use—free of charge. Most of us on the mission team “stayed alert with eyes wide open,” but certainly not in gratitude. Our eyes were wide open in worry and fear and discomfort.

Colossians 4:2-4 (The Message)

2-4  Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I’m locked up in this jail. Pray that every time I open my mouth I’ll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.

As we gathered for breakfast, in the midst of complaining, we heard the quiet voice of Emily, a Malawian traveling with us, say, “I saw the face of God in my motel room.” Having never slept in a bed before, Emily’s eyes were “wide open in gratitude.”

In that moment, I knew. Here was a child of God, created in the image of God with a loving and generous spirit. With her “eyes wide open in gratitude,” Emily made “Christ plain as day” to us. Emily’s gratitude taught me a critical lesson. We are all born in the image of a loving and generous God. However, we choose daily whether to live out of this loving and generous spirit. Often, we choose to live out of a resentful and bitter spirit instead. And in making our choice, we either make Christ plain or not.



Can you think of someone recently who made Christ plain to you with a loving and generous spirit? Can you think of a time when you had the opportunity to respond either with eyes wide open in gratitude or with eyes wide open in bitterness or fear? What did you choose? What were the results?

Copyright © 2019 Abingdon Press All rights reserved.



A Generous Life

A Generous Life reminds readers that we are all born in the image of a loving and generous God. The 28 devotions center around four weekly themes using generosity principles of gratitude, prayer, and faith. The journey that is “grounded in gratitude, revealed through prayer, and sealed by faith” will help people return to the generous life they were born to live. The daily readings are written by the Horizons Stewardship Team–a diverse group of pastors, church leaders, speakers, and authors. All profits from A Generous Life will be donated to UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) to support global missions.

A Generous Life will be available on June 4 through Amazon and Cokesbury.



To access Horizons’ free stewardship resources, click the Giving365 logo below.

Giving365 - Blog - Horizons - church stewardship resource

How to Make the Offering About Love (An Offering Talk for Sunday)

Instead of simply calling the ushers forward, help your congregation understand deeper meaning and connection inherent in the offering time of worship. Use what I call an Offering Talk to connect the offering to the giver’s relationship to God.

An Offering Talk can help your congregation understand the deep meaning and connection inherent in the offertory. It is an ideal stewardship teaching moment.


Here’s a sample Offering Talk to use Sunday.

Every night a father tucked his daughter into bed and they would repeat their familiar routine. The little girl would say, “I love you” and her dad would say, “I love you first.” One night, however, the little girl interjected a change. After hearing her father say, “I love you first,” she proclaimed, “I love you always!” And that became their new routine. The little girl has grown and is now a young wife and mother, but daughter and father continue to share these words. The exchange continues to affirm their love and connection. One will say, “I love you first” and then wait to hear the response, “I love you always.”

I love you first, and I love you always.

As wonderful a gift as the love between a parent and child, how much greater and more perfect is the love between God the Creator and those claimed as God’s children? This is the image of the God we have come to worship today. A God whose love reaches back into all our yesterdays and stretches into all our tomorrows. A God who always loves and forgives, who is always there to guide us when we are lost, to strengthen us when we are tired, and who overwhelms our hearts with love and grace. We come today to both acknowledge and praise the One who loves us first and who will love us always.

The motivation for giving is love.

Years ago a widow gave her last two coins as an offering to God. Many still wonder what motivated such a sacrificial gift. Surely she did not expect to have her name engraved on a wall or have the street in front of the Temple named in her honor. She clearly did not anticipate her gift would be lifted up as an example for others to follow centuries later. So what motivated her gift? Maybe she was motivated by a heart-felt desire to declare her life had been blessed by a God who had always met her needs. Blessed by a God who loved her first and always. The widow’s sacrificial offering was the very best way she knew to express that she loved God first. She would love God always.

Too often the offering is viewed as a time to pay the bills.

Today, many see the offering as a way for the church to collect money to pay bills and fund ministries. Yet at its very core, the offering is so much more. The offering is the time we are invited to proclaim, through faith, that we love God first. We love Him more than our jobs, our assets, our possessions, our hobbies, and even our families.

The offering is the time we proclaim our trust in God, above all else, as we move into an unknown future.

It is in giving we stay connected to what is really important in life and not allow materialism to define who we are; and it is in giving that we gain a deeper understanding of the depth of sacrificial love God has for us. It is in giving that we grow in our own personal journey as a follower of Jesus. It is in giving we say to God and to the world those simple, yet life-defining words: “I love you first, and I will love you always.”


An Offering Talk connects the act of giving to a higher purpose.

The offering is not a time to pay bills as mentioned above. The act of giving is at the core of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Consider using this talk in your next worship service, or write your own. In either case, help your congregation see the higher purpose of giving in worship.


 To learn more about Dustin Cooper, please click here.



Giving365 is a free subscription from Horizons Stewardship including blogs, ebooks, webinars and more! Subscribers receive bi-monthly blogs including information on best practices, the latest trends in giving, and helpful tools to use immediately to grow giving. In addition, Horizons’ team of Ministry Strategists will share their insights and expertise through a series of webinars. To access more of Horizons’ free stewardship resources, click the Giving365 logo below.
Giving365 - Blog - Horizons - church stewardship resource

The blog was updated from the original published 2/20/2018.




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