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Temple Talks

Powerful temple talks occur when a respected member of the congregation speaks during a worship service conveying a spiritual message on how God has been present in their lives and how that has led to generosity.   Temple talks of this nature have literally been the key to significant changes in attitudes and behavior for whole congregations.  

Temple Talks
By Jerry Hoffman

Powerful temple talks occur when member of the congregation speaks during a worship service conveying a spiritual message on how God has been present in their lives and how that has led to generosity.   Temple talks of this nature have literally been the key to significant changes in attitudes and behavior for whole congregations.  

Good temple talks require careful thought and preparation.  A pastor ought to be directly involved in choosing, giving direction, support and encouragement.    

1. Choose carefully.  Ask people who are gentle, wise, have a profound love for the congregation and who you know are generous givers.  

2. Meet with them and go over these guidelines.  Pray with and for them.  

3. Give guidelines regarding the content of the message (Topics but not scripts).

4. Request an advanced outline or a script of their message.

5. Give the following directions.  

  a. Be prepared -- plan what you will say well in advance, thinking about the above suggestions

  b. Be brief  -- three to five minutes is plenty

  c. Be personal  -- tell a personal story if at all possible

  d. Speak slowly  -- the most common mistake people make is to talk too quickly

  e. Speak to the back wall -- project your voice - talk to the congregation, not to the microphone

  f. Practice -- practice giving your Temple Talk out loud at home and then in the sanctuary, using the microphone with someone listening to make sure your are slow enough and loud enough.  Because you want to do your very best, ask them to give you honest feedback.    

  g. Empowered to Speak - The Spirit that Jesus gives us empowers us to speak. Often when we are expected to speak in front of people who intimidate us, we are nervous and self-conscious. But if we live in the Spirit, we don't have to worry about what to say. We will find ourselves ready to speak when the need is there. "When they take you before ... authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say, because when the time comes, the Holy Spirit will teach you what you should say" (


Temple talks are not helpful when the presenter:

  • Tells people about the money needed to meet a budget.
  • Tells others what they ought to do.
  • Complains about the stinginess of the congregation.
  • Focuses on the myth of scarcity.
  • Tell people how times are tough, but unless they fork over some of the left-overs the congregation won't survive.
  • Shames people because they haven't been more generous.
  • Informs those gathered that if everyone gave a certain amount there would be no trouble.
  • Etc.

Powerful temple talks that make a difference are honest, heart-felt testimonials where people talk about their love for the ministry of the congregation, the difference it makes in the lives of others, their need to give and how they decide to give what they do.    

An excellent series of temple talks can be developed on major motivations for giving.  Kennon Callahan in his book, Giving and Stewardship in the Effective Church identifies five major motivations for giving.  They are commitment, challenge, reasonability, compassion and community.  I suggest you consider four temple talks asking a person to focus on one of those topics.  You could have one every week for four weeks.  Ask different people to focus on how that particular word describes why they give.  

Focus for 1st Temple Talk -- Commitment!

"If everyone does their part, our program will be a success."     We ask that you to give a temple talk that will focus on commitment.  Please speak about dedication, faithfulness, duty, obligation, vows, and loyalty.  Tell an example of why you are loyal to this congregation.

Some people motivate themselves out of a sense of dedication and loyalty. They do what they do because 'they have made deeply felt commitments.

Focus For 2nd Temple Talk -- Challenge!

"We need to establish a lofty goal for ourselves.  I know we will rise to the occasion." A temple talk will clearly specify a God-given goal.  You will help them imagine what will be the result of this effort.  You will invite everyone to join with you as fellow Christians to stretch and do your best to accomplish, attain and achieve a great goal for this church.

Some people "rise to the bait" of the challenge. For them, life is one challenge after another. People who have a tendency to be high achievers frequently motivate themselves by a sense of challenge.

Focus For 3rd Temple Talk -- Compassion!

"Our congregation addresses the hopes and hurts of our community."

A temple talk with a focus on compassion will speak from the heart.  You will tell how God has worked through this congregation to bring you love, care, friendship and support during an important time in your lives.    Your talk will include at least one personal example.

Many people do what they do in this life's pilgrimage out of a sense of compassion. They do what they do because of their love for their children, their love for their family, their love of their country, their love of God's mission. They do what they do out of a genuine sense of compassion. The Bible gives many stories about when Jesus had compassion.

Focus For 4th Temple Talk -- Community!

"Our church has given me a larger family that meets my needs."                                                                    
You will emphasize how this congregation is a community of Christ where you experience friendship, good fun, good times, fellowship, affiliation and belonging.  It is family.  You will tell at least one personal example when this occurred.

Many people do what they do out of a search for community. The extended family clan used to provide a spirit of community. Many people are drawn to a church because they hope that they will discover within the congregation a spirit of community.

You will notice that none of these temple talks emphasizes the need of the church to receive.  All are grateful testimonies on how the church has touched their lives and the joy they have in giving.

Comments by Jerry Hoffman


Jerry Hoffman is the director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN.

Author information was updated as of the article's post date. Author profiles may not reflect author's current employment or location.

Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa ( via Flickr. Used by permission.

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