4 Lessons of Financial Health for the Pastor

I’ve had the privilege of founding two non-profit organizations, one for-profit company, and spent time as an employee of several multi-million dollar organizations. I also run the finances for my family. As I ebbed and flowed through these different financial environments I began to recognize patterns about how money grows and is invested, or on the flip side, how it quickly becomes wasted via expenses. While each of these environments may have shared the common goal of year-end profitability, the mindset, perspective, and specific objectives varied greatly.

Here are four key gleanings about financial health that apply specifically to the local church and Senior Pastors in particular.

1. Senior Pastors need the PRIORITY that is often modeled by the President of a Non-Profit Organization

The NPO leader has two very clear objectives every day, keep the vision clear and develop resources. No one can develop large amounts of resources for an NPO like the senior leader. The truth is that most employees would never have it cross their minds to help with this effort. They are too busy executing their department tasks. Whenever I find a Senior Pastor that is both the lead giver and the lead developer of gifts I find a church that is experiencing financial break thru.

2. Senior Pastors Need the FOCUS of a For-Profit Company Founder

The founder and owner of a for-profit company wakes up each week with two objectives in mind, keep the vision laser focused and produce more revenue than expenses. As the owner of a company you measure success by happy clients and positive cash flow. Every single expense is seen as either an investment that the owner is willing to take, perhaps even in exchange for a temporary pay reduction, or it is seen as wasted money. I know the success of the church is not measured by dollars, but discipleship. However, I also know it is sin to mismanage God’s resources. Being a wise steward, which is the call of God, involves both discipling generosity and being tenaciously obedient with the resources. Senior leaders do you know the eternal value of each dollar your organization raises and expends? Whenever I see a church with this kind of laser focused perspective, I find a church that is experiencing financial break thru.

3. Senior Pastors need the PASSION that comes from being the provider in the home

This is where the message can get serious. Most men wake up driven to succeed financially, provide well for their families, and enjoy the fruit of their labors. Great men care greatly for the provision and protection of their families. As a matter of fact it is intuitively engrained in the DNA of men. Unfortunately, it is common for me to find Senior Pastors who feel this way about their church, but do not connect the dots with the personal involvement in the financial management and leadership of the church. Many pastors have a general knowledge of financial matters, but not a passion for the financial success of the organization they lead. We would never allow our families to live in financial weakness without working towards a concrete solution. Example, most families would not raise their annual family budget 5-10% and ask their family to have vision and pray for growth. Yet, the average church practices this kind of principle every year.

4. Senior Pastors need the generosity CONFIDENCE that comes from Scripture

God’s Word is very practical, specific, inspiring, and replete with financial wisdom. I find that break thru financial churches are led by a senior pastor that has a high view and breadth of knowledge regarding the Bible’s principles of stewardship and generosity. Even if they lack the highest level of accounting and financial business practices, knowing and trusting Scripture allows them to experience overflow. This is why I put together a simple guide to help pastors gain confidence, a practical tool to lead their staff, and pathway to develop the spiritual discipline of generosity in the disciples you lead. Leading a generous church is totally possible and it has nothing to do with church size, location, income earning, or style. It has everything to do with priority, focus, passion, and confidence.

For additional reading, here are a couple of real life case studies:

Harvest Church, Billings, Montana
Main Street Church, Toledo,Ohio

For more practical tips and inspiration, check out my book, Leading a Generous Church.

> Read more from Todd.

Would you like to learn more about Generosity and other issues related to financial health? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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Todd McMichen

Todd McMichen has served for over 30 years in a variety of roles in the local church, doing everything from planting churches to lead pastor. While on staff he conducted two major capital campaigns helping to guide his local churches through sizable relocation projects. Those two churches alone raised over $35,000,000. Since 2000, Todd has been a well-established stewardship and generosity campaign coach, as well as a conference leader and speaker. Todd is a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic College in West Palm Beach, FL and Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX. He lives in Birmingham, AL with his wife Theresa, and their two kids, Riley and Breanna. You can contact Todd at todd@auxano.com or 205-223-7803.

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What say you? Leave a comment!

VRcurator — 09/15/15 2:56 pm

David, thanks for the encouragement. I look forward to hearing more from you on your journey. - Todd

David — 09/15/15 2:20 pm

Todd, This is fantastic. I have sent it to our senior pastor, but as a younger executive pastor desiring to learn as much as I can about all areas of the church, I find your materials refreshing on the topic of generosity. I have just started reading Leading A Generous Church, but when I finish I let you know what I learned!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken

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