Generosity Starts at the Top

How do I keep our budget from turning inward?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

– Matthew 6:21

Jesus directed these words to the crowds at the Sermon on the Mount, but their truth is just as appropriate for your church today.

If you are concerned that your church is beginning to become more inward-focused, take a look at the finances: If more of your church’s funds are being used to keep the machinery of the church moving and to keep the members happy, rather than to fund the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, you have a big problem.

The inward focus of financial matters is symptomatic of a heart problem. When a church consistently directs resources and energy more toward its own needs than the need to reach their community and the world, decline toward death becomes a natural result.

If you are concerned that you are on the this path, start with YOU. Model generosity so it becomes a driving force in your church.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Leading a Generous Church, by Todd McMichen

What kind of help would people receive if the only training they were given on money came from the church? Leading a Generous Church: Making Disciples without Chasing Money takes your team through a step-by- step process to develop a generosity playbook that delivers unprecedented confidence and clarity.

Using the book of Proverbs as its foundation, the resulting playbook is an innovative tool that provides a fresh perspective on generosity – one that will truly grow passionately generous disciples.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Pastors always desire a generous culture, but very few know what it really is and are willing to do the work to experience it. They tend to default toward doing nothing (except complaining) or executing yet another quick fix, short-term remedy. While there are a few necessary ingredients for true generosity, the one absolute is that the senior pastor must model and lead the way.

If you want to lead a generous church, the senior leadership must become passionate about generosity.

Your heart must be overcome. Stewardship must be a driving force shaping your culture. Be mindful that a generous culture produces many results beyond a surplus of finances. It helps with volunteerism, impact in society, personal faith, and a more positive disposition. I have never met an unhappy, over-stressed, or weary obedient servant. Who doesn’t want these positive characteristics to permeate church culture?

Often when churches pursue generosity, they pursue more money. The pursuit of money is not the same as producing a generous disciple. Money can be gained quickly, but the strategy can contain unintended negative results. If the ill-gotten gain is money, the proper gain must be a transformed disciple. And that transformed disciple may need to begin with you.

– Todd McMichen, Leading a Generous Church

A NEXT STEP

Anchor generosity within your existing set of core values by crafting 2-3 ”demonstrated by” statements for each, showing how stewardship is lived out in the culture of the church. Then locate one to two verses for each value, to provide Biblical encouragement, discipleship, and direction toward generosity.

Value Illustration: “Life-Giving Conversations”

We are passionate about the power of uplifting conversation. Our words come from our heart and the generous heart of God will be loud.

  • Demonstrated by telling stories at leadership meetings of how life change is occurring in ministry areas due to the positive generosity of our people.
  • Demonstrated by expressing thankfulness in our worship services for the abundant generosity we have received both from God our provider and our people on a weekly basis.
  • Demonstrated by personally thanking volunteers and investors one on one.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

(Proverbs 18:21 NIV)

 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.

(2 Corinthians 8:5 NIV)

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

(2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV)

Language is one of the most important tools you have as a leader. With language you direct, inspire, inform, and communicate. Clear communication and modeling are actually the two most basic activities in a leadership relationship. You show; you instruct.

Clearly demonstrating agreed upon values in your own words, grounded in scripture is empowering. When you are in a collaborative environment and your team understands how your values impact all ministries, it will provide both accountability and direction for your team.

Taken from SUMS Remix 18-1, published July 2015.


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Resourcing >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Seven Actions to Lead Your Church to Financial Fitness

Is your church financially fit? When asked this question most church leaders usually have a quick gut level response between two extremes. They either respond with a confident “yes” because the church has more money than it spends every year. Or an absolute “no” due to the impression of too few resources to fulfill the dream. Before we venture into an honest discussion of what it means to be financially fit, let’s make sure we understand the land mines of measuring the wrong things.

False Financial Measures

  1. No Debt – Debt can be the number one binder on financial freedom. However, being a church with no debt can also result in a lack of numeric growth, dated and unmaintained facilities, or a hoarding of resources. Don’t make debt free the ultimate measuring stick of financial health.
  2. Increased Budget Growth – Receiving more resources every year is not the end all measurement on financial health. It might be the result of a small percentage of willing donors or can lead to unjustified spending which is sinful. A generous church is not the same as a wealthy congregation.
  3. Lack of Financial Conversations – A church that never talks about money may also be a church that is stuck or even moving backwards. It may be a church without a clear mission that demands a great sacrifice. It may be a church with very little financial discipleship occurring.
  4. High Missions Giving Percentage – I’ve learned that being a “missions-minded church” can mean a lot of different things. Sometimes it means we live for the mission, then other times it means we do nothing but study missionaries and give resources away. I have also seen foreign missions giving be trumpeted as better than internal or local investments in ministry.

Financial Values Leading To Fitness

  1. Model The Way – Every church I encounter that is enjoying the fruit of financial freedom is being led by a generous pastor who is not distant from every financial conversation. A pastor who understands both personal stewardship and the generous life will naturally lead the organization by the same principles.
  2. Tell Great Stories – Church leaders would be shocked to know how many times a church attender gives to non-profits, because he or she does not clearly see the impact of the mission of the local church. Most committed church givers do so out of duty, habit, or obligation. Very few see, hear, and experience the stories of impact. NPO’s have clear visions that are big and engaging. The church has a budget and bills.
  3. Invest For A Return – 100% of church resources need to be wisely invested as resources considered holy by God and wholly committed to the mission. Every budget year most churches answer two lingering questions, “What did we do last year?” and ” How much money do we have to spend this year?” The conversation needs to begin with a clear understanding of where God is uniquely at work in your church. Then, church leaders should have a clear and tactical vision moving forward. We should never justify an expense solely because of the person leading the ministry or fear of making a change.
  4. Tame the Monsters – The two biggest expenses in most church budgets are staff and facilities. As a matter of fact, these two spending categories routinely create 75% of yearly expenses. We find that churches who pay their staff well, while creating a stronger volunteer pipeline, can steadily see their staff expense trend below 50% or less. When the figure is closer to 35% we see real future potential. Churches that maintain a debt load of less than 1 time their annual expenses also show few signs of financial bondage. There are certainly seasons in church life cycles where staff expense can trend above 50% and debt can be 2-3 times your annual income, but these are two places you want to avoid as a pattern.
  5. Focused Impact – Decades ago people could revolve their lives around church activities. That is simply not the case today. Church programming is far better off when you do a few things well as opposed to many things. Focusing your resources of people, funds, and space can produce far better results than stretching yourself thin.
  6. Personal Path – Money affects every person. We value and experience money at every stage of life and it is constantly different. Just watch a kid on a toy aisle or a senior adult fretting over a major health expense. Every person and family regardless of age or income level deserves the opportunity to enjoy financial freedom offered by the generous life. For many churches 50-60% of their people give far below the tithe principle taught in Scripture. A financially fit church has a discipleship plan for each giver beyond just a money management class and tithing sermon.
  7. Surplus Plan – This principle always sounds so foreign to church leaders. Unfortunately most churches begin each fiscal year having created a spending plan that consumes all expected margin. This leads to false limitations of ministries, an unnecessary weight for church leaders, and self-induced pressure. When we encounter a church that has the pattern of only spending 90% or less of last year’s undesignated receipts, we encounter freedom and joy. The conversation among church leaders is no longer what they can’t do, but instead, “God, we are ready. Lead the way.”

As you look to measure your church’s financial fitness it is really important to sort out what you should and shouldn’t measure. Scripture is clear that God gives resources to people and He then leads them to be generous. The church is not responsible for those two actions. Here is what church leaders are responsible for and should measure:

  1. Possessing a clear vision of the unique mission
  2. Providing the discipleship opportunity for personal growth in life stewardship
  3. Proving each expense is being invested for the highest kingdom good
  4. Placing faith in God as the wise provider

How much money a church receives or saves is not the end all. Never experiencing a financial pressure is not the ultimate test. A financially fit church rests on the fact that God controls the amount, and we control how we use it.

For more resources you can download the Generosity Dream Tool here or purchase my book Leading A Generous Church.


To learn how how to help your church be financially fit, connect with an Auxano Navigator today.


 

> Read more from Todd.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Resourcing >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.