Where there is no funding the vision perishes. So says John Maxwell.
While one clear vision is foundational, resourcing is the oxygen that allows the vision to breathe. Effective resourcing includes many things but I will focus on financial stewardship.
When I planted in 1996 the common mantra included “one of the main reasons the un-churched are turned off to church is our conversations about money.” The result: little talk about how money, discipleship and vision are so intertwined. This is so unlike Jesus who talked about money a lot. I soon realized how foolish I was and began a journey to a faithful stewardship plan.
One resource that I have found helpful is J. Clif Christopher’s Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate. In chapter six he gives a top ten list of things he would do now if he were leading a church. Five have proven especially helpful to me.
- Build a high expectation culture. The American church battles consumerism and a tendency toward being spectators. Building a high expectation culture of what it means to follow Jesus as Lord is essential. This includes thoughtful stewardship as an integral part of a healthy disciple’s life.
- Have weekly testimonies. Finding avenues to tell the stories and share the victories is vital. A two minute video at the beginning of a weekend service or a two paragraph blurb in the bulletin or newsletter are just two possibilities.
- Have ongoing Christian financial planning classes. Debt is epidemic in our culture. Simply telling people to give without giving them the tools to change is, for me, abusive. Let’s offer the help that is so desperately needed. Financial Peace University has been very effective for us.
- Write ten thank-you notes per week. There is incredible power in the simple phrase “thank you!” Handwritten notes are especially powerful since they are rare and unexpected. They don’t have to be long, but should be more than just a signature.
- Preach directly on money four times per year. This can be accomplished by four single sermons throughout the year or a single four-part sermon series once a year. While both are effective I prefer the four-part series as it allows momentum to build throughout the series.
Make a coherent stewardship plan and then execute the plan. When will you offer classes? How will you communicate their availability? When will you record and show testimonies? Lay these out (along with thoughtful content for your sermon series or standalone messages) so it does not appear random… or worse, desperate!