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

Todd serves at the Director of Generosity by LifeWay. His generosity roots arise from leading multiple capital campaigns for local churches that together raised over $35,000,000 for their visionary projects. Since 2000, Todd has been a well-established stewardship coach, generosity leader, author, and conference speaker.

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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!

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
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