During a recent capital campaign, several Home Group Gatherings for leaders were held. After I had shared some Biblical insights from Exodus 35 and 1 Chronicles 29 on giving for special “building projects,” one of the hosts asked, “Is now when you want me to share?” I replied, “Yes, if you want to share, please do so.” (I had invited the hosts at all of the gatherings to share their personal testimonies, but only if they felt completely free to do so. Some chose to do so and others did not.) The gentleman was very nervous and spoke so humbly about how richly God had blessed even him and his wife even though they felt they didn’t deserve it. Then, even more hesitantly, he said, “So we have decided to return a commitment of $100,000/year for the next three years for a total of $300,000.” Initially you could have heard a pin drop, but then peoples’ faces lit up and their hands began to clap in praise and thanksgiving to God. When I personally thanked him near the end of the gathering, I said, “You did so well, but I could tell that you were very nervous.” He replied, “Yes, it was very hard for me to do. My dad had stressed to me again and again that you don’t talk about how much money you make and how much money you give.”
How do you feel about the issue of stewardship testimonies? You, like most people, including me, have mixed feelings. But I must say that after experiencing these in a variety of settings I have discovered they are powerful in their affect. Before you decide one way or another, remember that King David was very specific with his financial commitment to the building of the temple. I know that Jesus spoke against “trumpeting” one’s giving of alms, but also note that he was speaking about giving alms and about bragging in the process. Remember too how Paul wrote glowingly to the Corinthians about the generosity of the churches in Macedonia.
I am always amazed at how people can be so enthused about the testimony of a person whose life has been transformed by the grace of God – until it comes to the transformation of one’s financial generosity. I think it’s something to think and pray about.
Born in Walburg, Texas, the second youngest of nine children, John Kieschnick received a B.S. in Education from Concordia Teachers’ College, River Forest, Ill. Throughout his ministry, John has served on a variety of synodical boards and committees, both national and district (Texas). He has authored numerous stewardship Bible studies and programs.
Jeff Meyer serves as Pastor of a multi-site movement in Madison, WI. Here he shares with LCEF blog readers about leadership in ministry:
When it comes to our calling—witnessing, winning people for Christ, making disciples, I don’t see it done well very often. It has been my observation that most Christians fit into one of two extremes when it comes to engaging in the missional lifestyle with non-Christians. On one side we are obnoxious. On the other, silent.
I’d like to suggest a third space. I’d like to suggest an expansive, loving, humble and generous place from which true compassion flows; a place where there is no anxiety to recruit.
Now it’s time for a confession. My calling to be a missional leader has frequently been laced with agendas. Honestly, at the heart, most of these agendas I place on others are really self-serving. My missional intentions are so often focused on ME.
Here’s how it tends to work in my world.
- The more I engage in missional living, the more I am with people.
- The more I’m with people, the more I see their dysfunction and the struggle to assimilate truth in life.
- The more I see their dysfunction and the struggle to assimilate truth in life, the more I can be tempted to believe that “it’s on me” to “reach people”, convince people, lead people, show people, teach people.
What ensues is burden, weightiness , responsibility, duty, and “calling.” ME, ME, ME! In the midst of this reality, Jesus invites me. “Come, follow ME, and I will make you…” (Mark 1:17). It’s an amazing invitation, really. Follow ME. Jesus is the only ME worth following. I am learning to leave the results up to Him. Here’s the truth I am discovering: Having self-imposed agendas for others steals my joy and leaves me ineffective.
A couple of months ago I posted 3 of my favorite “Motive-Checking Questions.” I’ve added a few more.
Take this quick 10-question quiz to see if you are “Loving People Without an Agenda.” Then take some time to reflect on the two questions at the end. Better yet, find someone to take the quiz with you and reflect together.
Of the 10 questions which one seems to be the most difficult for you to manage?
What’s the gift that God may be desiring to give me if I could “unhook myself” from this reality?
Jeff is a father to four daughters, father-in-law, grandfather, and husband to Amy. He serves as the Lead Pastor of a multi-site movement in Madison, WI called the Church (livelifetogether.com). He also serves as a Lead Navigator for Auxano. You can follow Jeff at jeffmeyer.org.
It happens more often than we would like. With just a month or so before the end of the year, the Finance Committee announces that the congregation is headed for a major deficit. For some congregations that means panic! For others, it seems to be an annual occurrence. The question is, “How do we address the problem?” Too often it is addressed in strictly financial terms: A letter outlining the dire situation and asking for a special gift for the “Balance the Budget” fund. Let me suggest some other approaches: + Focus on the value of the ministry, not just the lack of money. Tell people what you are doing for the Lord, and then ask for help.
– Choose a mission related theme for your effort. (Not “The Budget Fund”)
–Show the faces of ministry, not just the figures of debt: Children in Sunday School, silhouettes of people in counseling, the pastor comforting the sick or elderly, scenes of special ministries supported by your congregation.
– Ask people to give a brief witness as to why they are supporting a year-end effort: “I am pitching in with an extra tithe (a part of my annual bonus, a sale of stock, etc.) because this ministry has touched my life in such an important way that I would like to share with you …”
– People are more generous in support of a ministry that changes lives than they are a budget that is in arrears! (If you can’t make that case, you have more than a financial problem!)
+ Be realistic about gifts needed and what it will take to attain them.
–A Minimum has a way of becoming a Maximum. How many times have you heard: “If everyone here would give an extra $15 a week, we could meet our budget.”? The problem is that some cannot give $15 a week, and others can give much more than $15 a week. By setting the minimum at $15, you have set a maximum for those who can give more, and a minimum that is unattainable for others
–Present a realistic gift pyramid. – If you want to make suggestions, be realistic about the scope of the need and the varying abilities of the people in the congregation. For example, if you need to raise $50,000, you will ordinarily need one gift of at least $5,000 (10%), two gifts of at least $2,500, six gifts of at least $1,500, and so on down a pyramid of lesser gifts according to individual ability. Make it known that gifts of all sizes will be needed, but challenge leaders to consider leading with a higher level gift for the sake of the mission.
–Fund Raisers are for fellowship, not income. – By and large, fund raisers like bake sales, car washes, spaghetti dinners, etc. are good fellowship events, but involve lots of work and seldom raise more than a few thousand dollars. If you need to raise any significant money, it is better to come to people with a meaningful cause and ask them to support it with a sacrificial gift as God has blessed them.
–Offer some specific ideas. Share some of your Christmas bonus. If over 70 ½, consider an IRA charitable rollover (Must be done by Dec. 31). Give an extra tithe. Do without a desired Christmas gift. Give a gift of stock (A good year to take tax free capital gains.).
+ Resolve to teach stewardship on a regular basis next year. Year round stewardship education is the best prevention of year-end deficit. The congregation that refuses to talk about Gospel-centered stewardship on a regular basis will wind up whining about money all year long. ____________________________________________________________________________ Art is President Emeritus of the Southeastern District, LCMS, and a Regional Consultant in stewardship and capital funding for LCEF. Dr. Scherer is developer of LCEF’s popular Consecrated Stewards series and author of the new Gift of Joy Bible studies.
Billy Brath works with churches and leaders to develop and produce creative ministries that work to effectively reach the culture today. Here he shares with LCEF blog readers about leadership in ministry:
It’s the lesson your parents taught you throughout your childhood. The most caring teachers exemplified and worked to instill it in you. When you entered into ministry leadership, the old wise Pastor encouraged you to rely on it. Ultimately, it’s God who shows you its merits and gives you the ability to do it:
But we have so many ideas, so much passion, there is so much to be done!
Our first lesson in patience is probably not remembered, but picture a child just learning how to walk. There is that point when they realize all that can be done with two foot mobility and of course they try pushing it to its limits and attempt to run. The child falls. Not yet ready, have patience baby, allow your muscles and brain to get this new balance thing down. It takes time. Have patience.
Patience does not mean sit idly and wait for things to happen though. Just like in the baby example, the child has to keep working at it. The child need not worry about the future though. In due time things will progress, and it’s time to run.
In due time.
I’m writing all this to us. I have terrible patience. I’m a 32 year old who thinks my effective years of ministry are running out. I want every day to be epic and filled with progress… according to my vision of progress of course. I’m afraid that if I’m not producing results today, I’ll be found worthless by my leaders and supporters.
And I know that all of that is hogwash.
Even in our 100 mile an hour blind and crazy baby running, God shows us how patience works. It’s the person we slowly befriended 5 years ago who calls on you when tragedy strikes and you realize you’re the only real Christian they know. It’s the punk teenager who one day you realize is graduating college and desires to know how they can get engaged in ministry. It’s the annual event you’re about to cancel for lack of interest and participation when you realize it’s the Christ connection for people.
In our distracted speedy ministry life, God practices patience for us. It’s not that we sit around and wait for these kinds of things to happen, patience is not a call to idleness. Instead it gives us permission to do the Lord’s work without worry.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9
Do your work joyfully with God’s guidance. Release angst and worry over immediate results and instead allow the Lord to show you His results. Pray for patience and the peace that comes with it.
Enjoy your work! Keep innovating, creating, and collaborating! Enjoy what God does with it!
Billy works with churches and leaders to develop and produce creative ministries that work to effectively reach the culture today. Formerly a dancer/performer, with an undergrad in secular Religious Studies, and experience in digital arts & design, he is currently Associate Pastor & Urban Missionary at Trinity in Orlando.
Can you accept a compliment without diminishing it? Can you receive a gift gladly without guilt?
There’s more to those two questions than meet the eye, isn’t there? Embedded in each diminished compliment and in each guilt-accepted gift is a resistance to let go, surrender. When we’re on the receiving end of an exchange there is a dependency, a vulnerability that is exposed, visible for the other (it seems like the world) to see. A deep sense of “Uh-oh!” resonates like the loud ringing of a big bell and, for a moment at least, we’re not in control! “Uh-oh!”
If there is one common denominator of humanity, it is the fear of letting go, trusting, giving oneself over to another. We’re caught in the tension between wanting to be fully known and wanting anything but to be fully known. We struggle for illusions of control to maintain a paper-thin facade that keeps us from yielding to a truth trying to bubble up like the pressure of a deep well rushing to the surface.
This weekend LCEF will host an annual Fall Leadership Conference under the banner, “Receive His Gifts.” All weekend, bubbling up like a deep well, we will be receiving! And far, far beyond awards and information, we will gather to receive “grace upon grace” from the overflowing fullness of a limitless God whose nature it is to give, to provide… to gift! Those present during the events and banquets will have no more an opportunity than you gathered with friends, reading alone on your tablet, or working overtime for the extra cash – all of us can really do only one thing – receive.
Leadership is about first receiving, but so is parenting, coaching – actually living! From the air we breathe to the assurance of eternity in Christ; from the earth’s production of crops to the Spirit’s production of Life in baptism, God first asks but one thing – to receive.
As a consultant and pastor coach for Capital Funding Services (CFS), Karl provides exceptional spiritual counsel to pastors and congregations in their pursuit of God’s mission. Karl is author of “The Love Paradox: Lead Others by Loving Your Self.” The accompanying discussion guide, workbook and other resources for well-being are found on his website, KarlGalik.com.