I’ve had the privilege of founding two non-profit organizations, one for-profit company, and spent time as an employee of several multi-million dollar organizations. I also run the finances for my family. As I ebbed and flowed through these different financial environments I began to recognize patterns about how money grows and is invested, or on the flip side, how it quickly becomes wasted via expenses. While each of these environments may have shared the common goal of year-end profitability, the mindset, perspective, and specific objectives varied greatly.
Here are four key gleanings about financial health that apply specifically to the local church and Senior Pastors in particular:
1. Senior Pastors need the PRIORITY that is often modeled by the President of a Non-Profit Organization
The NPO leader has two very clear objectives every day: keep the vision clear and develop resources. No one can develop large amounts of resources for an NPO like the senior leader. The truth is that most employees would never have it cross their minds to help with this effort. They are too busy executing their department tasks. Whenever I find a Senior Pastor that is both the lead giver and the lead developer of gifts, I find a church that is experiencing financial breakthrough.
2. Senior Pastors Need the FOCUS of a For-Profit Company Founder
The founder and owner of a for-profit company wakes up each week with two objectives in mind: keep the vision laser-focused and produce more revenue than expenses. As the owner of a company, you measure success by happy clients and positive cash flow. Every single expense is seen as either an investment that the owner is willing to take, perhaps even in exchange for a temporary pay reduction, or it is seen as wasted money. I know the success of the church is not measured by dollars, but discipleship. However, I also know it is sin to mismanage God’s resources. Being a wise steward, which is the call of God, involves both discipling, generosity, and being tenaciously obedient with the resources. Senior leaders, do you know the eternal value of each dollar your organization raises and expends? Whenever I see a church with this kind of laser-focused perspective, I find a church that is experiencing financial breakthrough.
3. Senior Pastors need the PASSION that comes from being the provider in the home
This is where the message can get serious. Most men wake up driven to succeed financially, provide well for their families, and enjoy the fruit of their labors. Great men care greatly for the provision and protection of their families. As a matter of fact, it is intuitively ingrained in the DNA of men. Unfortunately, it is common for me to find Senior Pastors who feel this way about their church, but do not connect the dots with the personal involvement in the financial management and leadership of the church. Many pastors have a general knowledge of financial matters, but not a passion for the financial success of the organization they lead. We would never allow our families to live in financial weakness without working towards a concrete solution. For example, most families would not raise their annual family budget 5-10 percent and ask their family for vision and prayers for growth. Yet, the average church practices this kind of principle every year.
4. Senior Pastors need the generosity CONFIDENCE that comes from Scripture
God’s Word is very practical, specific, inspiring, and replete with financial wisdom. I find that breakthrough financial churches are led by a Senior Pastor who has a high view and deep knowledge regarding the Bible’s principles of stewardship and generosity. Even if they lack the highest level of accounting and financial business practices, knowing and trusting Scripture allows them to experience overflow. This is why I put together a simple guide to help pastors gain confidence, a practical tool to lead their staff, and pathways to develop the spiritual discipline of generosity in the disciples you lead. Leading a generous church is totally possible and it has nothing to do with church size, location, income earning, or style. It has everything to do with priority, focus, passion, and confidence.
For additional reading, here are a couple of real life case studies:
- Harvest Church, Billings, MT
- Main Street Church, Toledo, OH