Categories
Finance/Giving

Is the Government Really Giving My Church Free Money?

By now you have certainly heard all about the Payroll Protection Program to help churches retain staff under the CARES Act. I’ve received several links to webinars, blogs, and articles over the last week, but I still had questions, so I texted my friend Josh who is a pastor and an Executive Consultant for Ministry Renewal. 

You may remember Josh from the blog I wrote about how we raised $1.5 million for our church. He walked us through that entire fundraising process. He also wrote this blog about church fundraising for Excellent Pastor. 

Below is our text conversation about the Stimulus program. I hope it helps you like it helped me. If you have more questions he is offering to help you too. You can find his contact information at the bottom of this email.

Jason: Hey Josh, I know you’ve been helping churches navigate this stimulus relief package. I was hoping you could answer some questions for me.

Josh: Sure.

Jason: I guess my first question is, is this for real? Can my church get 2.5x our monthly payroll, and not have to pay it back?

Josh: Maybe. There is so much that we don’t know. We have already helped churches successfully apply for the program, but I am increasingly concerned about the predominant narrative out there among pastors that “this will be easy.”

Jason: It feels too good to be true. I feel like there will be a catch somewhere. I’m worried I might regret it in a few months when some other shoe drops.

Josh: It is true that the loan terms are outrageously generous. I just don’t know that it’s going to be that simple.  Do we really believe that if a church can pay its bills perfectly on its own, the government is going to just pad the church’s savings account?  That is not in keeping with the spirit nor goals of this program.  

I think it’s more likely that you are going to have to prove the need, to supply documentation of your income. The math on this is going to get complicated.  Documenting compliance will be arduous.  

Most importantly, we don’t exactly know how a church is going to have to account for how this money is spent in order to have the loan converted to a grant.  The rest of the process might be much more difficult than the application process.

Jason: So, could I just take the money, pay my staff, and then use the money I would’ve have used to pay staff for something else?

Josh: The predominant narrative essentially says this (even my church’s auditor issued us this guidance, which I continue to debate): Open a separate checking account and have the PPL funds disbursed electronically to the new account.  Use that account to cover payroll and all other expenses that are convertible for an 8-week period.  Retain your staff.  After 8 weeks if you spend 100% of the money from the checking account on the right things, you don’t owe a dime back. 

But, we are coaching churches to assume this will be a loan unless you meet the specific criteria connected to the stated purpose of the bill: (1) retain staff that you otherwise would have to lay off or (2) rehire staff that you have recently furloughed or laid off. 

Jason: Ok. Thanks. One more question, couldn’t I just take the money and if it becomes a loan pay it back. Aren’t the interest rates really good?

Josh: We are seeing loans beneath 2%, which is really great, but regardless of that, they are still loans that must be repaid. My concern is that churches are going to spend the money assuming it will be forgiven and then have to repay it later, but not have the resources to do so.

Jason: That makes sense. So is your suggestion that if I need the loan to keep the doors open, I should apply for it, but if I don’t think I will need the loan, I should pass?

Josh: I don’t think that I can make that judgment for a church, but hopefully you were applying a Dave-Ramsey-Style approach to your personal budget and your church’s finances!

Josh and his team at ministry renewal are available to help coach you through the initial application, ongoing compliance, and loan conversion process. You can call them today at 404-665-7007, email CARES@ministryrenewal.com, or visit https://www.ministryrenewal.com/covid19

Categories
Finance/Giving

10 Things I Learned Raising $1.5 Million For My Church

In full disclosure, I kind of cringed when I typed the title to this blog, but I wanted you to click the link, so I chose that title over the more accurate, “What I learned watching God provide $1.5 million for our church.” You probably wouldn’t have clicked that link, but alas, here we are.

I’m not a fundraiser, I’m a pastor, but as a pastor sometimes I have to be a fundraiser. I bet you’ve had to do the same thing at some point or another in your leadership. Whether it’s raising money for a youth trip or building a new building, every pastor has seasons of leadership where raising funds has to move to the forefront of your job description.

Based on conversations with other church leaders, raising money is not something we’re comfortable doing. I get it, we don’t want people to feel uncomfortable or draw wrong impressions about our motives, but over the last decade of pastoring, I have had a change of heart about how much I talk about money or challenge people to prioritize giving. I’ve written about it more detail here.

Here’s the fact: It takes money to do ministry, and while yes, technically God could miraculously provide all the resources you will ever need, historically that’s not how he operates. Instead, he puts a dream in your heart that is beyond your current level of resources and then tasks you with the responsibility of leading a congregation to that desired destination.

That’s where I found myself 18 months ago. I knew after ten years of pastoring Hope City Church; God was calling our church to take some bold, faith-filled, steps: A building renovation and a second campus launch. These steps would require me to put my fundraising hat on for a season as we tried to raise $1.5 million.

After months of praying, planning, and meetings, we launched our campaign and raised almost $1.6 million. God is good!

Whether you need to raise $1 million or $10,000 for a dream God has put in your heart, I want to share with you some lessons I learned along the way during this fundraising season for our church.

1. Hire an expert

You only get one chance to launch your first giving campaign, and if you need to raise a substantial amount of money (define that in your context), you can’t afford to “wing it.” It’s tempting to do the math and feel that the cost of a consultant or expert is too expensive, but the truth is you can’t afford not to hire an expert. I have pastor friends who have raised a lot more money than me and for their 2nd or 3rd campaigns decided to lead the campaign themselves, but that’s only because they hired an expert the first time and learned how to raise money on a large scale. Of course, don’t hire a car salesman, hire someone that understands your heart, and you feel comfortable with, but don’t try and save a few thousand dollars in an attempt to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s a cheap mindset and will cost you in the long run.

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: Don’t try and save a few thousand dollars in an attempt to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. @jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: Don’t try and save a few thousand dollars in an attempt to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. “]

2. You don’t raise money from the pulpit you raise money over coffee

Pastors are typically good communicators so we’re tempted to believe that we can accomplish anything from the stage, but when it comes to fundraising, the stage is the final piece of the fundraising puzzle. If you stand up to preach/announce the start of a fundraising campaign and you don’t already have 50-70% of your money raised from private conversations beforehand you’re in trouble. The hard work has already been done before you stand in front of the congregation to announce the campaign. Don’t assume you can preach one sermon and raise money over the long term.

3. Don’t feel bad for prioritizing big givers

My friend said something to me one day that is so simple but so profound. He said, “large gifts come from large givers.” Go figure! We ask people who can sing to sing. We ask people who can teach to teach. Why not ask people who can give big to give big? The key, though, is that we ask everyone to participate. It’s not equal giving; it’s equal sacrifice. So, I met with everyone who wanted to meet with me, and I asked everyone to give sacrificially, but where there were families who could give larger amounts, I did not apologize for asking them to do so. I believe God has blessed them to help fund the kingdom of God, and I told them so. Just know, whatever amount of money you want to raise, 25%-35% of it will come from 2-3 people in order to hit your goal. This requires you to be courageous and direct with people who have the capacity to make a big impact. Which leads me to my next point…

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: Large gifts come from large givers. We ask people who can sing to sing. We ask people who can teach to teach. Why not ask people who can give big to give big? @jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: Large gifts come from large givers. We ask people who can sing to sing. We ask people who can teach to teach. Why not ask people who can give big to give big?”]

4. Big givers are not uncomfortable being asked for big gifts

I won’t belabor the point, but know that when you sit down with a large donor to ask for a donation, you are probably the fifth person to ask them for money that month. Big givers are used to conversations about money. In my experience, they like the conversation to be direct and specific. The more uncomfortable you are, the less likely you are to inspire them. Don’t lowball them out of fear. Yes, ask them to pray about it, but be proactive and ask them to pray about giving a specific amount that it is in your heart.

5. Your church will be as generous as you are

I talked about this a lot in this post, so I won’t repeat everything, but this is an important point to make. As you prepare to have meetings and ask people to step up big and give, make sure you’re buying what you’re selling. Are you drinking the kool-aid? I hope so. My friend Josh, who helps churches raise money told me that he has never seen a fundraising campaign meet or exceed their goal if the pastor did not lead the way with an extremely generous commitment… NEVER! You shouldn’t be the biggest giver in your church, but you should be the largest percentage giver in your church because your church will not exceed your level of sacrifice. If you’re not ready to be extremely generous on a personal level, you’re not ready to try and raise money for your church.

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: You shouldn’t be the biggest giver in your church, but you should be the largest percentage giver in your church, because your church will never exceed your level of sacrifice. @jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: You shouldn’t be the biggest giver in your church, but you should be the largest percentage giver in your church, because your church will never exceed your level of sacrifice.”]

One more thing, I didn’t tell many people what my commitment amount was, because I didn’t want to forfeit my spiritual reward by impressing people. However, for a few conversations, when I felt it was appropriate and could be an example of the kind of generosity it would require to take our church where God wanted to lead us, I shared my pledge to inspire and encourage someone to join me. You’ll have to trust your gut on that, but lead the way, it’s the only way.

6. You are currently fundraising whether you realize it or not.

You may not have asked for money yet, but you are building trust and credibility through your leadership practices and the vision you’re casting. Every budget meeting, every giving sermon, every staff hire is sending a message to your church about how you spend money and what your vision is. You may not ask for money for three more years, but know that you are raising money right now. We spent ten years preparing to ask people, during that time we never received a special offering for our church, but when it came time to ask, we asked big! If you never talk about money, and then one day stand up and start talking about it, don’t be surprised if people are confused. If you don’t operate on a budget, don’t be surprised if large givers are hesitant to write a big check. Everything you do is preparing the way for your fundraising campaign. Prepare now.

7. Tithers are your best givers

I guess this is kind of a no-brainer, but as you plan and think through your fundraising, go ahead and assume that the people who have already been giving will be the ones who will most participate in your fundraising effort. It’s tempting to think that someone who has money but hasn’t been faithfully giving, will be inspired to step up and give sacrificially, but the chances are not as good as you think. Are there people who will give to special projects who won’t tithe? Yes. And yes, new givers will give to the campaign. In general, though, the best way to plan is to assume those who have been giving will give, and those who have not been giving, for whatever reason, will have a reason why they will not. Which brings me to the next thing I’ve learned…

8. You’re overestimating outside gifts

I know I know. You know a guy who started a successful business, or got an inheritance or plays in the NFL and if you can get a meal with them, they will probably write you a six-figure check. They like you and have always said, “let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.” I’m not saying it won’t happen; I’m just saying, it probably won’t happen. Will you get something? Yes. Will you get what you think you’re going to get? I doubt it. Jesus said where your heart is your treasure will be and vice versa. The best giving prospects are people who are already emotionally invested in the church.

9. Focus Your Giving/Income Streams

Over time, most churches have several different categories a member can give to: the youth fund, choir fund, missions trip, pastor appreciation, etc. Some givers like to designate their gift to know exactly how their money is being spent. Here’s the challenge, if you’re trying to raise a large amount of money you need to have a singular focus, and the more streams, the harder it will be to meet your goal. We were faced with this challenge because one of the biggest wins for our church is something called the “Imagine campaign.” Over the last ten years, we’ve given away over $500,000 to help plant churches, build orphanages, and help local families in need. Our people love it, and they give to it in a big way, but we knew that if we were going to raise $1.5 million it would require a singular focus, so we decided to pause on imagine and designate all gifts to our campaign. We announced that we would designate 10% of the $1.5 million to our “imagine” projects so the work could continue, but we didn’t want people designating any money to Imagine. All giving went to the same place, the campaign. Don’t be afraid to press pause on everything else why you’re trying to raise money. Reaching a big goal requires big focus.

10. People are drawn to a big vision

I know that “vision” is a church leadership buzz word, and it seems like it’s the answer to every question, but there is a reason it feels that way…. because IT IS the answer to every question, especially raising money. When someone asks the question, “why are we raising money” you better have an answer, and it better be an answer that inspires them to dig deep. I love the story in Mark Batterson’s book Circle Maker about the couple who stopped by Mark’s office one day and asked about his vision. They eventually donated $3 million, and the reason they gave it is because, in their words, “you have a vision beyond your resource.” You may not have a $3 million giver, but you can have a big vision. Chris Hodges says he has $400 million of vision; he’s just waiting for someone to give it. I love that! Let me ask you this question: If someone gave you $1 million today to use for your church, do you know what you do with it? Is there a dream in your heart? Yes, you would pay off debt, yes you would hire some staff, yes, you would renovate the facility, but is there a BIG dream in your heart? The week after we raised the $1.5 million I had breakfast with my head finance leader to recap the numbers, and at the end of breakfast I told him, “I think I have an idea of what we need to do after we spend this $1.5 million.” He just started laughing, and said, “You never stop do you?” I just smiled and said, “nope.” Dream Big, Pray Big, Ask Big!

Categories
Finance/Giving

The Biggest Mistake Churches Make When Trying To Raise Money

As a pastor, I know that I’m never going to get everything in my ministry right all of the time. I’m going to preach some sermons that, for whatever reason, fail to connect emotionally with my audience. I’m going to put together some volunteer teams that don’t stay the course. I’m going to start some ministries that don’t make. Over time, I’ve come to embrace these failures as the natural consequence of innovation. If I’m not failing at something, I’m probably in a creativity or comfortability rut. As a very successful friend of mine told me once: “Fail a lot. Fail quick. And fail cheap.”

Congregations can recover quickly from failed sermons and ministries. We can adjust, change a staff member, or try a new ministry strategy in a relatively short amount of time. However, there is one element of ministry leadership where we pastors simply cannot fail. What takes a congregation years to recover from in terms of emotional momentum? The answer is simple, and I have seen it too many times: a botched capital campaign.

One reason I am passionate about leading successful campaigns is that the cost of failure is so deep. Like a child scarred by being publicly humiliated, I have worked with congregations that have an “inferiority complex” as a result of past failures.

There are several factors that might lead to failure in a campaign. Popular failure factors include:

  • An “insider” mentality that refuses external help
  • Setting an unrealistic goal based on unmanaged expectations.
  • A lack of preparation

However, I want to focus on one common factor to a failed capital campaign: the reluctance of the pastor/campaign leadership to set a hard goal and go after it tastefully, strategically, and aggressively. In the simplest terms, the leader is afraid to aggressively raise an appropriate amount of money.

The campaign team must be committed to publicizing a monetary goal that they are certain represents a realistically aggressive target. In my campaigns, we often take 4-6 weeks of research, analysis, and conversations before arriving at that goal. But once we get there, we own it. Then we apply best professional fundraising practices to achieve it.

One of my catalysts to partner with several churches a year as a generosity consultant stems from my experience in a church located in a wealthy zip code who set a monetary goal of raising 3X annual operating income in a traditional capital campaign. This was pre-2008 when such multiples were not uncommon. However, rather than owning the goal and strategically working toward it by following best professional practices, the leadership just “slung” out the number to the entire congregation at once. Their rallying cry: “We will build what you give.”

That phrase still makes me wince.

“We will build what you give”: That mentality represents the opposite of owning the goal. It does not communicate a God-inspired vision that must be accomplished to propel God’s work forward. It is not giver-centric. It pitches the vision that should be owned by the pastor and the team back to the average giver who is not equipped or called to chart the overall course. As a result, that church raised 1X annual income, a terrible failure for their congregation.

How do we start calculating a reasonably aggressive goal?

  1. We begin with data analysis and comparisons to other churches.
  2. We analyze giving trends in the church’s zip code and surrounding area.
  3. We invite lay leaders in the church into the conversation and ask for feedback, helping them to own the creative process.

What eventually emerges is a hard and fast number. What we construct and apply is a pathway to get there. The real result, and the fun part, is watching God work in the lives of everyday people as they are invited into a special season of generosity.

That’s how vision gets done on the ground. May we execute faithfully.

Categories
Finance/Giving

3 Ways To Create A More Generous Culture In Your Church

When I became the pastor of my church 10 years ago, our financial numbers were depressing for two reasons. First, because we were spending 99% of everything that came in on ourself; we had NO margin! We weren’t wasting money on glamorous things, it was just normal day to day expenses that had gotten out of hand.

Second, because only a small percentage of people in the congregation were financially supporting the church. Our attendance was 150+  but the giving units were way lower.

Fast forward 10 years later and everything is different. Our church operates on 79% of our income, and our giving/member ratio is much higher. We’ve given away over $500,000 to plant churches, build orphanages, and help families in our local community. God has been good to us.

There are many great blogs with strategies and tactics to increase giving in your church- I’m going to leave that to the experts- (honestly I was too dumb to know how to do it the right way) instead let me give you 3 things that I had to change about my leadership to create a more generous culture in our church.

1. Stop apologizing

When I would preach a sermon about giving I would start with preface statements and apologies. I wanted to make sure no one was offended, or if someone was visiting the church, they knew we weren’t one of “those” churches that wanted their money.

Looking back, I did a major disservice to my congregation because I was apologizing for talking about something Jesus loved talking about. It was also a disservice because I was apologizing for talking about a topic that was most prevalent in the lives of the congregation.

After doing an anonymous survey of the congregation, they said the issue causing their life the most stress and pain was “money trouble/debt.” I had a captive audience desperate for solutions to their biggest problem in life, and I was apologizing for preaching on the topic.

I made a very intentional shift in my mindset to never apologize for speaking on the topic of money again. It’s too important. As a matter of fact, I now do the opposite at the beginning of every message about giving. I say something like, “I’m so glad you’re here today because I’m speaking on the topic of giving and money management. I can’t think of a topic more relevant to your everyday life. If you are a guest visiting today, I’m really excited you’re here because you’re going to hear me speak on a topic I’m passionate about, and you get the chance to hear the truth about money. The culture tells you a lot of things that don’t work, but God teaches us the truth. I think you’re going to like what you hear today.”

The change in language sets the tone for the message. I don’t tiptoe anymore. I passionately preach the truth of God’s word. His way works and my way hurts. Everyone needs to know.

2. Stop Debating

There are people gifted by God to excel at scholastic debate. I marvel at it, but it’s not my gift. I’m not implying I shouldn’t be able to give a sound reason for why I believe what I believe, but you can tell the difference between the people who want to debate for kicks and giggles and those who are genuinely seeking to understand God’s word. I made an important decision to stop debating the validity of tithing.

In my experience, the people who wanted to debate if tithing was biblical were lifelong church people looking for loopholes. You can disagree, and I understand the New Testament doesn’t say as much as I wish it did on the topic of tithing, but I decided Matthew 23:23 was good enough for me to feel confident, “You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.” I came to a conclusion: “if I’m right, I’ll be obedient and blessed, and if I’m wrong, I just missed out on more steak dinners and retirement investing.”

Stop focusing on the minority. Stop trying to convince people who don’t want to be convinced. For every person who wants to argue with you about tithing, there are ten more in your church who are looking for counsel and guidance to take the next step in their faith. Focus on them.

3. Have One on One Conversations

It’s tempting to use sermons to relay a message that would be more effective as a private conversation. Whether it’s people’s sin, church attendance, or giving, a sermon allows you to vaguely address the issue, without looking someone in the eye. Jesus was The Great Teacher, but He understood the power of a private conversation.

Once I made the decision to change the culture of giving at our church, I made a bold move. I’m not even sure I recommend this for everyone, but I knew it was something I needed to do. I asked our clerk to give me the names of every active leader/influencer in our church who I assumed tithed but didn’t. Not knowing people’s exact income she had to make a judgment call but decided if someone gave less than $2,000 they were most likely giving less than 10% of their income. After I received the list of 20+ names, I scheduled one on one meetings with each family.

To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I was still a young pastor, in my late 20’s, and most of the people I was meeting with were older than me. Before I tell you what I said, let me tell you why I said it.

I believe so passionately in the power of generosity; it keeps me awake at night. In my opinion, giving is as important a spiritual discipline as studying the Bible, prayer, and fasting. So if I found out one of my leader/influencers wasn’t reading their Bible, I wouldn’t hesitate to meet them for coffee and ask them why? I would do whatever it took to help them. The same is true for prayer. If one of my leaders wasn’t praying, and I found out, I wouldn’t hesitate to meet them, ask why, and help them find a solution. So why should it be different with giving? Yes, talking with people about money, sex, and politics is always uncomfortable but uncomfortable conversations are what sets apart great leaders from average ones.

With that conviction I met with each family on the list, and respectfully asked them why they weren’t tithing and, assuming they believed they should, I offered to help them take the next steps towards obedience to God.

I’m not going to lie. I assumed at least half of the people would be offended and leave the church, but I was wrong. One man left. The overwhelming majority thanked me for having the courage to meet with them and caring enough about them to bring it up.  The motive behind your words make all the difference, and thankfully the Holy Spirit helped convey my heart.

Changing any culture is never easy, but if you’re in it for the long haul, stay consistent, and truly believe in what you’re trying to accomplish it will happen. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen.

It’s worth mentioning that you can’t change the culture just by talking about it, you have to model it. I wrote more about that in this post, “3 Painful Reasons Your Church Isn’t More Generous” but “don’t get discouraged in doing good” as the Apostle Paul said, “at just the right time” the culture will change and eventually the thing you swore would never happen will be the new normal.

Categories
Finance/Giving

3 Painful Reasons Your Church Isn’t More Generous

There’s an old anecdote about a man who was trying to understand how big God is so he asked Him, “God how long is a million years to you?” God said, “A million years is like a second.” Then the man asked, “How much is a million dollars to you?” God said, “A million dollars is like a penny.” The man smiled and said, “God, could you spare a penny?” God smiled back and said, “Sure just wait a second.”

In all my years working with and being around pastors, I’ve never met anyone who said, “We have more money than we need right now.” You probably haven’t either. Interestingly though, statements about the lack of resources come from the mouths of leaders of all different church sizes. The need for more resources is not just a small church problem.

If your vision is bigger than your budget, you’re in good company. The Bible is filled with men and women called by God to accomplish something beyond their means. Moses didn’t have the speaking skills required to approach Pharaoh. Gideon didn’t have enough soldiers after God dwindled his army from 10,000 to 300, and the disciples didn’t have enough food to feed 5,000 people. If your vision doesn’t exceed your resources and ability, you’re not dreaming big enough.

I love the blunt honesty of the disciples in the story of the feeding of 5,000. When Jesus challenged them to feed the crowd, they didn’t know what else to say but “With What?” It was a valid question. There was no way they had enough food to meet the need.

Almost every pastor has felt under-resourced at some point or another. Maybe you feel under-resourced because you have nothing, or maybe you feel under-resourced because even though you have a lot, you don’t have what you feel you need to do what God has called you to do. That’s one reason comparison is so silly— resources are relative. You are only responsible for being faithful to what God has called you to do—It doesn’t matter what someone else has.

I’ll confess that I often struggle with facility envy. I pastor a church that was built in the 1970’s with an “A-frame” sanctuary, and a Sunday School square. We still have a functioning Sunday School bell if we wanted to use it. I’m grateful we’re debt free, God has been so good to our church, but our building doesn’t convey the personality of our church. I would be lying if I didn’t admit every time I visit a modern facility the “new building” smell sends me into a trance. Here’s what’s amusing though. I have a friend who pastor’s a church with a $6 million facility, and he’s jealous of my facility because he still owes a large portion of the mortgage. Resources are relative. For every person, you envy ahead of where you are there is someone behind you who feels the same way about you.

Every leader loves the rush of fresh, God-given, vision. However, when you lack the resources to accomplish what you feel God is inspiring you to do, you ask the same question the disciples asked, “With What?” You recognize a need but don’t feel you have the means to meet it. If you feel under resources in your current season, let me challenge you with 3 questions about your leadership.

1. Am I personally modeling extreme generosity?

Your church will never be more generous than you. Go back and read that statement again. You set the bar. You shouldn’t be the largest numerical giver in your church, but you should be the largest percentage giver in your church.

I talk to many pastors who are frustrated at the lack of generosity in their church, but when I ask if they tithe or how much they personally give, the conversation gets awkward, because they don’t. You better be buying what you’re selling, or people will see right through you. I don’t preach on giving because I want people to give more. I preach on giving because I have personally experienced the life-changing power of generosity and God’s blessing. I don’t want anything from them; I want something for them. There’s a difference, and it’s conveyed more than spoken.

2. Are my motives pure?

Only you know your motives, so only you can answer this question. Why do you want more resources? The answer may be that you want to reach more people with the gospel, but sometimes the noble answer masks selfish or self-promoting motives. There are countless inexpensive ways to share the gospel, a TV broadcast, new facility, or any other expensive option may not be right for right now. Be careful that you don’t desire good things for the wrong reasons because you’re comparing your church to someone who has a 10-20-year head start on you. Almost every great church and pastor I’ve met tells a similar story about how a season of desperation sparked innovation. Don’t allow a desire for more resources to rob you of the joys of your current season no matter how scarce they may be.

3. Have I been a good steward of my current resources?

One of the biggest myths in life and leadership is, “if I had more I would do more.” If you had more time, you would be more productive. If you had more staff, you would reach more people. If you had a better facility, your church would grow. The list goes on and on, and the “more myth” includes money as well. If you had more money, you would be more generous, right? Maybe, but not likely.

Jesus taught us that what we do with little is the best indicator of what we will do with more. Instead of looking at dollars and cents in your church budget, look at percentages and ask yourself, “does the way our church currently spends/allots money honor, God?” If the answer is no, or you’re not sure, stop making excuses and start making changes. There is no sure-fire formula for God’s blessing, but the Bible implies over and over again that blessing usually follows behavior. Do the things corporately you teach your people to do individually: budget, live below your means, put generosity first, and be content.

It is easy to be bitter towards people who don’t give, to be bitter towards God for not providing more resources. But before you allow your heart to become toxic ask yourself:

  • Am I modeling extreme generosity?
  • Are my motives pure?
  • Have I been a good steward of my current resources?

The answer to these questions might be yes, and for reasons unknown to me and you God still chooses to have you in a context with scarce resources. If so, be encouraged. God sent quail into the desert, a raven with meat to Elijah, and kept oil flowing for a widow. He multiplied two fish sandwiches into dinner for 5,000. God will always make sure you have the resources you need to do what he’s called you to do. Just because you don’t know how He is going to do it, doesn’t mean He doesn’t know how. Don’t allow limited resources to limit your vision; you serve a limitless God.

You may be interested in another blog I wrote called, “3 Ways To Create A More Generous Culture At Your Church.” I share 3 intentional things I did to help our church increase our giving and buy in to the vision. You can read it here.