Most pastors see the finances of the church as important but are not really passionate about leading them. I get it, few people are into math, numbers, and spreadsheets. Just seeing the weekly offering number each week is usually more than enough. Someone else can dig into the details. A few years ago we conducted a survey among church leaders regarding several different financial issues. One question we asked was who was the person ultimately responsible for church generosity? The answer was resounding, the pastor.
So pastor, I know you do not wake up each day prepped to head to the office, driven to plunge headlong into spreadsheets. I am not wired that way either. I actually ask my team to convert the numbers into colorful graphs and pretty charts for me. However, we do have to lead the finance ministry of the church very well. I want to provide you with five motivations to help us focus our financial leadership skills.
1. God has a vision for your city.
God has called pastors to cities. He is at work in our cities and has been for a long time. We play a role in a specific season for our generation. Every church has a part to play whether big or small. We are not in competition with one another but must do our part.
God has vision and resources. He has no interest in denying churches of the needed resources to accomplish the vision. Generosity experts have pointed out again and again that generosity power is unleashed when a vision is clear, inspiring, and engaging. God can overflow your church with resources toward your vision. God’s testimony doesn’t look so hot when church finances are continually weak. Vision depends on pastors being generosity experts.
2. We have a fiduciary responsibility.
Money is a physical, spiritual, and legal matter. When a giver donates to a nonprofit organization legal responsibility is incurred. In this day givers often possess a skeptical nature of how finances are held at a nonprofit. They may actually have less confidence in the church, then say the Red Cross or Komen Race for the Cure. In my experience that spans two decades of generosity consulting with the local church, the times I have heard a committed layperson express concern, lack of confidence, or outright distrust of how church leaders handle money is far more common than it should be.
The higher regard we as leaders hold for how the money is accounted for and spent the better. Church finances should consistently take in more than we spend. Debt should be consistently lowered. Cash reserves should be rising. Buildings should not appear worn out, tired, or in disrepair. Accountability needs to be high for everyone. This should not bind us up to become hoarders, but free us up to release the resources in the most advantageous direction. A clear vision with high financial accountability practices will multiply generosity.
3. Employees are counting on you.
You have employees that have declined jobs in favor of working for you.
They have placed their futures in your direction. These employees have spouses, children, and grandchildren. They are counting on their jobs being there for them now and in the future. Many want to know they can earn a wage increase, bonus, advance in the organization, and fulfill their vocational dreams without having to relocate.
Being an employer is a really big deal. You are fulfilling the role of a provider and protector for your employees and their families. A happy, fulfilled, and unleashed staff along with their families is a powerful ministry force. It both saves and multiplies resources.
4. Church money is a testimony of God’s grace.
One of the most significant church financial passages in the Bible is 2 Corinthians 8-9. It tells the story of a poor church that was rising to the generosity occasion. Paul is collecting an offering for the needy. He provides the biblical motivation to give, growing local believers. He also creates the leadership process of collecting and a system of distribution. These two chapters are really insightful when it comes to guiding church leaders in creating a comprehensive generosity system.
However, the most spiritually powerful concept is how Paul uses the word “grace” to refer to generosity. Giving extends the gospel of grace. Then I am reminded of the woman who anointed Jesus. He said everywhere the gospel goes, her story of generosity is being told! Giving is not about money, budgets, debt, buildings, or spreadsheets. It is about grace! The power of giving is eternal.
5. Business principles work everywhere.
I know the church is not a business and needs spiritual leadership more than anything. However, money is math and financial wisdom works every time. God has equipped experienced professionals in our churches with tremendous financial wisdom. We need to invite them into the process, learn from them, and grow our financial leadership muscles. We will pay a high price when we do not think and lead as organizational leaders. We are always spiritual leaders, but we must embrace organizational and financial wisdom. The church is not immune to such applications.
Unfortunately, it is common for us to practice a certain level of financial wisdom at home, but not translate that to the church. Or we can be resistant to running the church organizationally as a business, fearing too much of the world getting involved. Well, let’s keep the darkness of the world out, but let in the wisdom of finances that God ordained. When we experience financial stress in our lives, whether personal or professional, it is largely self-induced. Outside of a national crisis, natural disaster, or painful local economic condition, money pain is mostly avoidable.
So pastor, I want to encourage you to embrace the financial and generosity leadership roles. It doesn’t mean you have to become an accounting or spreadsheet guru. However, it does mean you can lead by example and with undeniable values that set the stage for a financial picture of peace and surplus. Go unleash giving today!