Answer These 5 Questions to Help Steward the Resources God Has Given You

When it comes to church, revenue and redemption don’t feel very closely connected. Theologically speaking they aren’t, salvation is a free gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8) However, the contemporary church as we know it, doesn’t function without financial resources. Candidly, in every church I know, money is tight.

There never seems to be quite enough money and sometimes there is a significant shortfall. In fact, I’m not aware of one church that has so much money that they don’t know what to do with it all.

A real issue for the majority of churches where the money seems “too little,” is that they are not sure how to best use the money they have.

Budget season in any church can be an experience that is full of stress and tension. Part of that is natural because the discipline required to be a good steward requires critical thinking, tough conversations and strategic solutions.

It’s all about what you do with what you have.

Let’s start with an example. One church really wanted to hire a children’s pastor and an administrative pastor. The needs were great in both areas. However, they felt stuck because they only had room in the budget for one, but believed they had to have both. How do they decide?

Begin by acknowledging and focusing on what you can have.

There is a principle that can save you a lot of unnecessary stress, it goes like this.

You can have most anything you want, you just can’t have everything you want.

If you use that principle in light of Godly biblical standards, vision-driven values, and common sense, it will serve you very well. It frees you up to think with an abundance mindset rather than a scarcity mindset. That means that financially you focus on what you do have, rather than what you don’t have.

Let’s be honest about what we “want”.

So as a leader, what do you want? If the word “want” bothers you, try the word “need.”  What do you need? I personally think the word “need” can be even more loaded and subjective. The word “want” is honest and real.

If I trust my leaders, their character is a given. I already know they are not pushing their agenda. They want to reach more people for Jesus. They have the church’s best interest in mind. So we are back to discipline and stewardship and the question, “What do you want?

5 questions to help you move forward:

1) What problem do you want to solve?

All churches have problems and good leaders solve problems. That’s one of our most basic responsibilities. However, no leader can solve all the problems and some are not worth solving. Further, some of the situations are tensions to be managed rather than problems to be solved. So the first step is to list the problems you see, decide which ones are real problems, then prioritize the weight and value of each one. Start at the top of the list, and put your money there.

2) What ministry do you want to improve and advance?

We want all our ministries to thrive and be productive. But I’ve never found it possible to have them all be working at top performance at the same time. That is not the nature of any church or organization because when you are taking new territory and working with people, there is constant change and innovation. So, as you review your ministries, which ones do you prayerfully believe are the ones to focus on and therefore apply your financial resources to? It is not wise to apply “equal and fair” when it comes to the amount of money to your ministries. Be strategic!

3) What staff member do you want to hire?

What staff do you want to hire and why? This is not always the obvious call. For example, if your worship leader resigned, it may or may not be in the church’s best interest to hire another one. What if the need is greater for someone to join the team in children’s ministry and you had an amazing volunteer who could lead worship? Think through all the options for the best way to strategically determine how best to use your money.

4) What impact do you want to have in the community?

The greatest impact of any church is outside the walls of its building.

From having a true life change effect on those far from God resulting in a changed way of living, to a consistent engagement in the community partnering with compassion and justice endeavors, this is the mark of a great church. What is God saying to you for your church? What do you want to accomplish in your community? Be specific and focus.

5) What legacy do you want to leave?

This involves long term thinking. When you imagine the legacy of your church 20 years from now, what comes to mind? What is the vision? What do you want to see happen in the lives of people? The more specific you are, the more likely these things will come to pass. The more clarity you have in direction, the better you can allocate your financial resources.

> Back to our example, the church I mentioned hired the children’s pastor. They chose potential growth over solving the in-house administrative burdens. The strategy was to grow first, then hire the administrative help. They forced themselves to answer the key question: “What are you willing to give up (or delay) in order to get what you want?”

I pray these thoughts help you steward the resources God has given you.


Need help answering stewardship questions at your church? Connect with an Auxano Navigator today.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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Stewardship is More Than Finances: A Bigger View

When we think about stewardship, we think primarily about money. That’s a good and right thing, because when we think and talk about money, we are patterning our messages after those of Jesus. When you look back to the recorded teachings of Jesus in Scripture, you find a surprising number of references to the subject of personal finance. That’s not because Jesus wants our money; it’s certainly not because He needs our money. It’s because Jesus is after our hearts, and He knows that the clearest window into what we truly love, desire and pursue is visible through our bank statements.

Think about it – Jesus could have set up anything as the primary competitor to God in our lives. He could have easily said something like, “You cannot serve both God and power,” or “You cannot serve both God and sex,” but instead He chose money: “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money” (Matthew 6:24).

Money matters, because the heart matters. So it’s good and right for us to think about stewardship in terms of money. At the same time, stewardship is not exclusively about money. Instead, it’s a holistic view of God as the owner, and we as His servants who have been entrusted with all kinds of resources, each of which provides an opportunity for the sake of the kingdom of God. So while we should think deeply about the money God has seen fit to flow into our lives, our view of stewardship cannot stop there. It’s got to be bigger.

In light of that, here are three neglected objects of stewardship for you to think about today:

1. Your home.

Hospitality was one of the hallmarks of the early church. These fledgling believers were marked by generosity not only in their money, but in the opening up of their homes to others, welcoming them in. Paul listed hospitality in his practical exhortations of gospel-rooted living (Rom. 12:9-13) and went on to say that hospitality is one of the characteristics that must be present in church leaders (1 Tim. 3:2). Our homes are a resource, and we should be joyfully generous with them. That can mean things like hosting a small group, but in a broader sense, it means asking the simple question of why God has given you the home you have in the neighborhood you have around the people who live there. If He has done so intentionally, the home is a resource that should be made much of.

Furthermore, when we practice stewardship through hospitality, we mirror the gospel. The word itself, hospitality, comes from a combination of Greek words – the word for “love” and the word for “stranger.” When we invite others in hospitably, we are loving the stranger, which is exactly what God has done for us. When we were enemies and rebels, strangers to the faith, God invited us into His home as His sons and daughters.

2. Your children.

This is difficult. It’s perspective changing to think that you, and I, are stewards of our children. In many ways, it’s easier to think of something like money or a home as resources for these are objects. But our children? This cuts to the core of who we are, and yet in this aspect of life, too, we are stewards. It is our responsibility to build into our children in such a way that they love and are active in God’s kingdom by His grace.

The psalmist gets at this idea in Psalm 127:3-4: Sons are indeed a heritage from theLordchildren, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth.They are arrows. The straightness of the arrow is determined by the skill of the warrior.” 

The children in this passage aren’t only pictured as a reward; they are seen by the psalmist as a weapon. As parents, our best opportunity to significantly impact the world might just be through our children. If we can raise them to be kingdom people, people who take great risks for Christ, and love Him more than they love their lives, then the world can be changed. They can change it, and I can change it vicariously through them. This is the great task that God has entrusted to us, the stewards of these children. We as parents have the greatest measure of influence as to how straight they are shot, and how sharp their blades are. We can raise them to understand the great purposes of the universe, and that a life given for those purposes is not one spent in vain.

3. Your pain.

Your story matters. So does mine. The experiences God has brought into our lives, painful though they may be, are an issue of stewardship, and as stewards, we have the choice about what we will do with our pain. Will we be turned inward and bitter because of it, or will it become another means by which God extends the gospel of the kingdom through us?

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, you see the progression of stewardship in our pain: Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

We experience pain. We are comforted uniquely by the God of all compassion and comfort. And then we in turn extend that comfort to others. In other words, we steward our pain through providing comfort to others who are in relatable circumstances. We extend the blessing of God’s comfort to all those who suffer so they, too, might experience the tears of a Savior who suffers alongside His brothers and sisters.

God has entrusted much to us, and our resources go well beyond money. If we want to be faithful, then, we must not only be so financially, but instead come to a holistic view of God’s ownership, and our stewardship, of all things.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

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Stewardship is a Ministry Leader Must

In his letter to Titus, the apostle Paul called the overseer “God’s administrator” or “God’s steward” (Titus 1:7). Ministry leaders are stewards, not owners, as Jesus owns His Church. Jesus promised to build His Church, not ours (Matt. 16:18). The financial resources the Lord blesses a church with are ultimately for Him. The ministry leader, as a faithful steward, is responsible to ensure the resources are managed faithfully. The ministry leader must not be a lover of money (1 Tim. 3:3) but one who is generous because Christ has been generous to us.

As resources are generously given to the church, ministry leaders are responsible to ensure they are leveraged to advance the mission the Lord has given His people. Here are three ways ministry leader must live as stewards:

1. Give generously.

Ministry leaders should set the pace in living within one’s means and in being generous. Without generosity, ministry leaders lack the moral integrity to challenge people to be generous. A challenging question: If your church were as generous as you are, how generous would your church be?

2. Budget and spend strategically.

Your budget and your spending are a clear indication of your strategy. What you value as a ministry, you resource. Jack Welch once commented, “Strategy is simply resource allocation.” Your budget should be a reflection of your stated strategy. If the two are not in harmony, your budget wins and your strategy is a nebulous statement with no traction. Align your budget and spending to your strategy and priorities.

3. Embrace and teach stewardship as part of discipleship.

Ministry leaders are bombarded with advice on “raising capital,” “developing donors,” and “cultivating generosity.” If the apostle Paul were at the table hearing church leaders bemoan the lack of giving in their churches, he would probably say, “The people must have forgotten the gospel or not truly embraced it.” Paul emphasized the gospel in his appeal for believers to be generous in giving (2 Cor. 8:7–9). Though He was rich, Christ became poor so we could be blessed with the riches of knowing Him. And Christ’s generosity should motivate believers to be generous givers. Understand that stewardship is part of discipleship, and continually remind people of God’s grace as you challenge them to give.


To learn more about becoming a generous leader, connect with an Auxano Navigator.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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How to Lead the Best Money Meeting Ever

Recently I had the privilege of launching a Generosity Culture session with a pastor who is leading one of the most successful churches in his state. Over the years they have grown from a few hundred to thousands of people generating millions of annual income. You would think that this kind of numeric success would be sufficient to just stay the course. However, 10% of their people are giving over 50% of the revenue and they are praying for an even more significant impact in their city, which requires a flood of resources.

After several hours of meeting, sharing, and dreaming with the team, it was simply one of the most inspiring money meetings I have ever witnessed. Here are some insider tips:

1. We talked about generosity and not money. Money is paper, metal, and plastic which is not very inspiring. Generosity is a heart joy straight from the Creator of our souls. Language creates culture; words create worlds. Learn the language of generosity.

2. We invited everyone to the conversation, not only the finance office.Everyone handles money. However, sometimes the dollars and cents are left to a small few. How different is a generosity conversation when the Children and Worship Pastors are in the room? Their passion and perspective was invaluable.

3. We talked about life impact not expenses or receipts. When budgets are the topic, numbers and line items can rule the game. It was so enlightening to hear stories of how money was being used to transform a life. Money looked much different when seen through the eyes of addiction recovery and cancer treatment care.

4. We talked about the future first, not the present or the past. When you see the future clearly as a team, it produces such freedom when it comes to budget planning and expenses. The future frames the present.

5. We talked about what could be, not what would never be. I have watched God provide far beyond the calculators of men. I have watched gifts come in and doors opened when leaders lead with bold faith and a clear calling. This church had these experiences. Past success spurred future faith.

6. We talked about their city, their people, and the Bible, not a spreadsheet.Every city, life, and family possesses a money story. Once you know the story you can learn your role in growing a generous disciple that enjoys fruit far beyond their means. People want to live big lives and money is a significant story line.

7. We talked about vision, not a capital campaign. Campaigns are necessary when you need a large infusion of resources in a short period of time. However, you can lead your church to live in the land of surplus each and every day. More and more churches are prioritizing a generous culture long before they have a critical need.

8. We talked about discipleship, not debt reduction. Debt reduction programs are only sometimes good ideas. If your church feels as if it is struggling with debt, you are probably struggling more with cash flow. Cash flow can be increased many different ways. Don’t settle for old ideas.

9. We talked about fun and freedom, not bondage and limitation. Most church money conversations are some version of getting more money from people and not getting more blessings for people. When our motive is money and not the freedom that comes from obedient discipleship, we are way off as leaders.

10. We talked together, not being told how it would be. This is big! Try kicking off your annual budgeting process with vision and celebration. Let every ministry leader share their dreams based off the direction provided. Spending and investment choices now become a unifying experience toward a greater goal.

These are only a few of the things that I learned from our conversation. I hope they inspire you to raise the bar on the money conversation at your church.

> Read more from Todd.


 Would you like to learn more about developing a Generosity Culture for your church? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
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Good Doctrine Demands We Teach About Money

As a Pastor, I’m well aware of how many people have the assumption that “all Pastors want to talk about is money.” The funny thing is, after twenty years in ministry and communicating regularly with thousands of pastors, I can firmly assert that talking about money is one of our least favorite things to do, especially in our culture where personal finances are very… personal.

But the Apostle Paul wrote to a younger Pastor in Ephesus named Timothy once and told him to “Teach and urge these things… there is great gain in godliness with contentment… but those who desire to be rich fall into temptation… for the love of money is the root of all evil… As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches.” (1 Timothy 5:2-17 ESV)

In other words, good doctrine (which literally means “teaching”) demands that we address the issue of money. Here are several reasons why the church NEEDS to talk about finances…

  • Money is a gift from God to be managed for a season, not an earned commodity to be consumed for pleasure alone.
  • How we use money is a matter of worship – it demonstrates our values and what is important to us.
  • It’s pretty obvious people NEED help in this area – we’re strapped and stressed because of terrible management.
  • Generosity is a key value of the Christian life, for the church and for the individual Christian.
  • Money needs to serve the needs of man and the causes of justice, rather than man serving under the tyranny of money.
  • Money makes missions happen, which is God’s chief business and area of concern – the spread of the gospel deserves to be resourced.

If you don’t want the church to teach about money because it’s “none of their business,” you should change the way you see it. Nobody in the church (at least not my church) wants to see your budget or bank statements. We simply want to help people get healthy financially and become generous with our resources so that everyone experiences God’s blessings. In other words, my church doesn’t want something from you, we want something for you.

I’m really just scratching the surface here. There is much more to be said about the role of giving and stewardship in discipleship. What did I miss?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
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— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.