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.


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/


Fellowship In Christian Stewardship

The Foundation has partnered with the Rev. Kurt Appel’s “Fellowship In Christian Stewardship” ministry for the past two years. The ministry assists churches in executing an excellent pledge campaign for the annual operating budget. Kurt’s work with ten pilot churches has resulted in over $800,000 in new giving. This includes a total of 226 households with no previous giving record making commitments in 8 of 10 churches.

The plan does require work on the part of the church staff and leadership. Kurt guides the work and offers excellent resources, but the leaders of the church must be actively engaged in the process.  The current formula is best suited for congregations averaging over 125 in worship.

If you would like to know more, please contact the Rev. Dr. Kurt Appel by calling 228-342-0777.


Lenten Disciplines

One of the most talked about disciplines for Lent is that of fasting. People often choose to give up sweets, chocolate, soft drinks, etc. I suggest that we might also want to think about a fast from stuff for a portion of Lent.

In The 7 Experiment, staging your own mutiny against excess, Jen Hatmaker addresses possessions.  She specifically invites the reader to think about a couple of questions:
“How can you cultivate a sense of God’s presence in your home?”
“What can you do differently to be sure possessions don’t steer your heart?”

Hatmaker suggests the reader find a way to give away at least 7 things a day for seven days as a sign of freedom from possessions. The seven for one day may be items from one room or the whole house.  The seven could be kitchen items, home accessories, furniture or linens.  Clothes are a great way to produce seven items.

The whole idea is to realize that we do have a lot of stuff and that stuff does not equal worth and value.


Generosity Begins with Beginning

As a pastor I heard many people over the years say, “When I am in a better financial place in life, I will begin to tithe.”  What they were really saying is that they will begin to give. Tithing is generally considered to be 10% of one’s income. These folks usually were giving nothing or less than $200 per year.  The problem is that these folks never seem to reach some kind of financial mark in life to begin generosity. So many people make the mistake of equating generosity with the level of one’s financial resources.

Many believe they will give more when they have more. The problem is that a failure to be generous with a small income will never result in becoming generous with a larger income. Generosity is about making a conscious decision through the power of the Holy Spirit to give freely and sacrificially of one’s financial resources. It is not about the level of one’s financial resources. Generosity is about being generous.

Generosity really does begin with being generous.


Generosity and New Generations

An article by Kate Taylor appeared a couple of months ago concerning the struggle of some restaurant chains struggling to reach younger dinners. The ones struggling the most are Ruby Tuesday, Applebee’s and Chili’s. Chili’s made the decision to cut 40% of their current menu items. The word is that most of these brands are dated and fail to reach younger generations.

The CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings is stepping down. Applebee’s is closing about 135 locations. The problem is that younger folks are doing more cooking at home and ordering food that is delivered to their homes. They just do not fit the model of Boomers and Gen-Xers.

I thought this speaks to our churches related to generosity. We are still stuck in a generosity model in most churches that is designed for the Builder and Boomer generations. We have to realize that in order for the church’s message of generosity to reach new generations, we need to change. The same old stuff is just not going to keep working.

The sad truth is that while restaurants work to adapt; churches seem content to fuss about the younger folks who just need to learn how things work in the church.


Financial Freedom

The news media always plays up the huge pots of money available in some multi-state lotteries. Recent winners hit almost 500 million dollars. The number sounds great until you realize that in order for a person to win, lots of others have to loose. The money is not a gift, but a transfer of funds from a large group of people to an individual with a cut for states and the lottery companies. People are looking for a “Get out of Debt” card.

Pastors and laity of our churches are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ. This is not just about new folks, but we are also called to grow disciples into mature followers of Jesus. So many have been stunted spiritually because they have failed to learn the place of money and possessions in the life of a Christian. Pastors and leaders of our churches have failed to address the very real issue of debt and affluence.

We talk about prayer, worship attendance, serving others and maybe even witnessing. But we skirt around money and possessions. We fail to acknowledge the power of money and possessions in our lives. People need the voice of the church to speak against the power of debt and the consumer driven frenzy of our society.

A great, simple start is to find a tool to talk about money and possessions. I recommend Freed-up Financial Living by the Good Sense Movement. It is far from perfect, but it places money and possessions within a biblical context. It offers a way for followers of Jesus to address the weight of debt and affluence. You may not change the world, but you may just change a life.