I don’t like money.
I don’t like thinking about it, talking about it, teaching on it or worrying about it.
And I really don’t like asking for it. (No, this isn’t me asking for it.)
I don’t like what it does to people – both when we have it and when we don’t. I don’t like how having too little or having too much of it changes churches, ministries and people. And I don’t like the amount of time and energy that gets sapped from doing ministry to deal with fundraising, budgets and cost control.
But do you know what I really hate about money? When I don’t have enough of it.
How’s that for one of life’s crazy little ironies? Money may be the only thing in my life that I both dislike intensely, but I want more of.
No wonder Jesus warned us we can’t serve both God and Mammon (the god of money). If money all by itself can make you crazy, trying to serve God and money at the same time will turn you inside-out.
Why Talk About Money?
Not having enough money is a huge problem in life and in ministry. Yet it’s just the way things are for the Small Church – and for the Small Church pastor.
But helping those who are in even greater need than we are is one of the primary callings of the church.
It’s one of the few things every Small Church has in common.
How do we do more ministry with so little money?
I haven’t intentionally avoided writing about it. I just feel woefully inadequate to present myself as some kind of expert on the subject.
But in more than thirty years in ministry, I’ve been forced to learn about it – especially in the last half decade or so.
So, despite my misgivings – or maybe because of them – I plan to write several posts on the subject of Money & the Church in the next few weeks. Then we’ll come back to this series on a regular basis.
There are three reasons I’m starting this series.
1. Money Touches Everything
Literally everything. We can’t function in society without earning, managing and spending money.
It touches our ability to eat, sleep, raise a family, stay healthy, lead a church, bless others, you name it. How we earn, spend, save and give it is a barometer of our character. There are few aspects of our lives that impact us as universally as money.
Like it or not, we can’t ignore it, because…
2. Ignoring or Mismanaging Money Will Undermine Everything Else We Do
While having money is no guarantee of ministry success or church health – and can sometimes undermine it – poor money management will undermine every other effort we put into ministry.
Bad stewardship is like a massive hole in our bucket. And not just in our money bucket, but our ministry bucket, our relationship bucket, everything.
3. Small Churches Have Unique Financial Needs and Challenges
There’s a lot of help if you’re working on your personal and family finances. There’s a lot of help for big church finances, too – namely, you can hire people who manage money well.
But where’s the help for the unique financial situations of Small Churches? For the pastor who has no one else to keep track of the books? For the impoverished church trying to minister to other impoverished people? Who’s teaching us how to do that?
The answer – no one is.
For the most part, it’s trial-and-error. Mostly error.
What’s worse, when we do figure something out, it tends to stay with us and our church. We learn lessons the hard way, but those lessons live and die with us, without being passed on to anyone else who could use them. I think it’s time for that to stop.
So, starting now, I want NewSmallChurch.com and our New Small Church Facebook page to be a clearinghouse. Use the comment section to share ideas that worked for you. Warn us about ideas that didn’t work. Let’s create a place to share real struggles, ask hard questions and generate great ideas.
My Promises to You
I’m not a financial guy. That’s not false modesty, it’s a true confession.
But I promise a handful of things as we go along.
- I promise to share what I’ve learned in the most helpful way I know how
- I promise to be honest about my failures as well as my successes
- I promise to listen and learn, then pass along what I learn
- I promise to put biblical principles ahead of business methods
- I promise not to pretend I know something when I don’t
What’s Coming Up
Some of the working titles for upcoming Money & the Small Church posts are:
- Creating an atmosphere of generosity
- How to teach on giving without being (or seeming) greedy
- How to do great ministry with little or no money
- Barter – Everything old is new again
- Creating and following a reasonable budget
- Using a budget without being trapped by it
- Don’t spend more than you bring in
- The invisible expenses most Small Churches don’t see until it’s too late
- Looking ahead – The likely future of church finances
- …and more
I also want to hear from you on this. Are there issues regarding Money & the Small Church that you’d like to know more about? Do you have resources you can recommend?
I’m not an expert. But together, with God’s help, we may discover that we know a lot more about this than we thought.
So what do you think? Can we do this together?
We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
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