Without question the area where pastors feel least prepared to lead their churches is stewardship in general and church finances in particular. This is true regardless of the size of the church. Whether it is a congregation of fifteen people or fifteen thousand people, few leaders feel more than just adequate to lead in the financial aspects of their ministry.
The problem, however is that most churches expect and depend on their pastor not only to raise the finances but ensure that those finances are managed in a God-honoring way after they are collected. And if pastors don’t know how or can’t do it, then it won’t get done, at least not well.
Here’s the question: how many courses did you take in seminary on church finances? And for those of you who majored in pastoral ministries and leadership, how many of you took even a single course on church finances?
I know what you’re thinking: As a pastor, all I want to do is to teach and preach the Bible! I’m not good at arm-twisting and making people feel uncomfortable over money. And I don’t want to add to the perception of those who think the church is only after their money. That’s not who I am or what I want to do.
This is where some pastors who come from the business world may have an advantage over the seminary graduate. Those who lead in the corporate world are expected to have a good knowledge of finances in order to run their company, or their particular brand of a large company, with integrity and competence. There are aspects of church finances, however, that are foreign even to those who have advanced degrees in business and finance.
The Importance of Church Finances
Why is the topic of church finances so important? The church’s mission in this world, according to the Savior, is to make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15). As a part of discipleship, it is imperative that pastors hold their congregations accountable for their stewardship of God’s resources in the same way that they would hold them accountable for any of the other biblical admonitions on discipleship.
One writer states that there are more than twenty-three hundred verses in the Bible that address the topic of money. It’s been noted that in Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus warns us against storing up temporal treasure on earth. Instead, he commands that we seek to store up treasure in heaven. Then in verse 21, he explains why: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
How can we know where our hearts are? By looking for our treasure. And one key to discovering our treasure is what we do with our money. Sometimes people fool us. If we listen to them and watch what they do when they’re around us at church, they appear to have it all together. They seem to be spiritual giants. However, one of the true tests of where they are spiritually is to examine their checkbooks.
Congregational giving is about much more than simply giving money to the church. It’s a faith issue. It addresses matters of the heart. And a person cannot become a mature believer if his or her financial house is not in order. A leader’s responsibility is to set a good example by protecting and managing properly the resources entrusted to him.
Excerpt from Money Matters in Church: A Practical Guide for Leaders by Aubrey Malphurs and Steve Stroope
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