Have a Plan

Good Sense Movement recently sent me a newsletter about better stewardship. The newsletter noted, “If you aim at nothing, you’re sure to hit it.” That is true in many things including work in stewardship and generosity.  Nothing will be achieved without a goal in mind.  Michael Hyatt offered a couple of suggestions about goals in the newsletter.

The very first suggestion is to be specific.  For instance, teaching the congregation about generosity is too general.  A better goal is, “Offer three classes on generosity in Sunday School or small groups.” This tells the reader what and how.

The second suggestion is to have a measureable goal.  It will be easy to measure how many people attended a class or small group on generosity.  “Develop generosity leaders” is very difficult to measure.  Stating, “We will train three to five coaches in generosity” works.

Now is the time to begin this conversation with your Finance Committee or Generosity Team.  Nothing will happen, if nothing is planned. We are almost half-way through 2018.


Your Investors

Horizons Stewardship published an article by Mick Tune last month about investors.  He begins, “Think of me as a potential venture capitalist for your organization, or as a mission capitalist for your vision. I am not looking to make money back, but I am looking for a real return on my investment. I love my church and all, but you are not the only Godly gig around.”

 

What vision/mission is your church or ministry proposing for funding from potential investors?  By potential investors, I am referring to persons who put money in the offering plate every Sunday or send money to you monthly or quarterly.  How are you telling your story of making a difference in your community? Investors are looking for a return on investment. In ministry, the only return is changed lives.

 

Investors have many choices, when it comes to where their money goes. The church and ministry organizations can no longer just sit around and expect people to give. Our message and invitation to invest must be clear and compelling.


With Gratitude

Your presence at our booth at Annual Conference is appreciated. We enjoyed getting to visit with friends of the Foundation and those looking to learn more.  You and the churches you attend or serve are the reason that we exist.  We are here to serve you.  So, thank you for letting us be a part of your mission.

 

Please, remember that mission does not stop with a pastoral change, the summer or vacation.  The mission of the church continues. Pastors, if you are moving, do all in your power to have all financial obligations for the church up to date. In addition, make sure that the new pastor has an up to date income and expense accounting for the current year compared to the previous two to three years.  It is so nice for the pastor not to have to ask the folks at the new appointment for this important information.

 

Pastors that are moving and pastors that are staying, express your gratitude to the folks in the pew who are faithful stewards.  We need to learn to thank givers on a regular basis.  But a transition is a great time for the outgoing pastor to express her/his appreciation for all the financial supporters of the church and its mission.


Annual Conference

You are invited to stop by our display booth at the 2018 Mississippi Annual Conference. You may wish to pick up a pen or a nifty, color changing stress ball.  You can even talk to us about generating more income for your church’s ministry, or how your church can invest in new spiritual leaders through Foundation Scholarships.

We hope to see you soon!


Twiggy

A recent CBS Sunday Morning Program featured Twiggy. It is hard to believe that she is 68 years old.  Twiggy was discovered through her photograph in a hair salon. Someone working there agreed to do her hair, which ended up being cut very short. A photograph was made and hung there in the salon. The right person came into the salon and spotted the photograph. And the rest is history.

For you young folks out there, Twiggy was the epitome of the 60’s British Fashion world. She was thin, had short hair and large eyes. All the girls wanted to look like Twiggy in the day.  But she was smart enough not to rest on her laurels as a model.  Twiggy went on to star in films, theater and television. She recorded albums and wrote books.  She even has a clothing line today.

I write about Twiggy because she refused to be a one shot wonder. So many folks get caught up in their success that they never move on.  Suddenly, they are no longer relevant.  I think it happens in the church as well. We find something that works well, so we stick with it. Even when it is becoming clear that it doesn’t work very well in a new age, the church refuses to change. Then, the one shot wonder church begins to fade away and can’t understand why.

When was the last time your church was re-invented?


Stewardship/Generosity Leaders

Horizons Stewardship recently released an article about recruiting good stewardship/generosity leaders.  The first qualification is that the chosen leaders actually practice good stewardship and generosity. Yes, this will mean that someone needs to check with the financial secretary to see if the leaders are giving to the church and if each individual’s level of giving is reflection of her/his potential.  Remember, it is not about the size of the contribution, but the sacrifice the contribution represents.  A $100 monthly gift from a successful business person does not reflect good stewardship/generosity.

 

An additional guide states that stewardship/generosity leaders understand discipleship.  Leaders need to see that generosity is a natural part of growing as a disciple.  Failure to practice stewardship/generosity results in a failure to grow in discipleship. The one guides the other.


Pastors and Generosity

There are churches that model generosity in spite of the pastor, but most are hindered by a pastor’s lack of generosity. Pastors, you need to know that church folks will be aware of your level of giving. You cannot hide it.  You can preach until you are blue in the face about generosity, but it will fall on deaf ears, if you are not being generous in giving to the church or churches you serve.  My message to you does not end here.

 

Pastors are the chief executive officer of the church. Your fiduciary responsibility is to see that the funds of the church are handled properly.  Turning a blind eye to how it is being done does not work.  You cannot say, “I do the preaching and the lay folks handle the money stuff.” You are responsible.  It includes guiding the finance committee or stewardship committee in raising the necessary funds for the church budget.  You cannot abdicate from this duty.

 

If you are not sure of how to handle your duties, the Foundation can offer you some resources. Basic business math is not that difficult. You can learn how to do it.  Please, remember that generosity is a part of discipleship.

 

Jesus certainly said much about money and possessions.  It is easy for money and possessions to snuff out our walk with Jesus.  So, your responsibility as a pastor is not just a fiduciary one, but it is also a spiritual one.  You are the spiritual leader of the church.  This requires teaching on generosity.  Generosity will fail to grow without the willingness of the pastor to engage in the money work of the church and its spiritual dimensions.


First Quarter Review

Numbers for the first quarter of 2018 should be ready for your finance committee and generosity team to review. What trends are evident compared to the previous two to three years? Is giving stable, rising or declining? What do you see about expenses?  The numbers should guide next steps.

Falling revenue with stable expenses might indicate the need to develop a better generosity plan beginning immediately. Falling revenue and rising expenses is a call for immediate generosity work and expense control. Rising revenue and stable expenses might be a call to expand mission and ministry. Rising revenue and rising expenses probably indicate an effective mission that invites generosity.

Yes, the finance committee is responsible for expenditures, but it also responsible for raising adequate funds.  Now is the time to explore the numbers and respond. Waiting and watching is only avoiding reality.


The Dickson Order

I had the honor of recognizing the Rev. L. A. Cumberland and Mrs. Mary Alice Cumberland as the newest members of the Dickson Order of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church. The presentation was made at Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church, where Rev. Cumberland served in retirement until his death in 2001.  Mrs. Cumberland was present in the service along with her children.

 

The recipients receive a plaque and their engraved image and names are placed on a board displayed in the headquarters of the Annual Conference. Individuals, churches or groups may honor a clergy or layperson by donating at least $1,000 to the Dickson Order Fund. The fund’s proceeds are used for seminary scholarships.


Creating a Culture of Generosity offered by The Mississippi United Methodist Foundation

Creating a Culture of Generosity is an experience for churches of the Mississippi Conference designed to develop a lasting culture of generosity.  All of the required tasks are easily scaled to fit a variety of congregation sizes.  The selection of optional tasks make it easy for those just getting started with a comprehensive plan for generosity.

The experience comes with a $500 grant from the Foundation to cover expenses incurred by the congregation. The Foundation also provides the required reading for the experience.  Satisfactory completion of the experience within 12 months allows the church to apply to another year with some additional tasks and another grant.

Give us a call or send an email to request your complete resource guide.  The Foundation promises to walk with you throughout the journey.  We believe that God calls each of us to be generous with all that God has entrusted to us.

Find more information here: http://ms-umf.org/culture-of-generosity/