December 18, 2014

Top 20 Proverbs on Giving Without Regretting

well-doneChristmas is the one time of the year when giving is on the forefront of everyone’s mind and possibly heart. You can witness it in the retailer raking it in, the mom preparing for guests, or the Salvation Army volunteer ringing that bell. Every where you go it is the season of giving. Then soon all your money will be spent and it will become the season of regretting those credit card payments. Which means the back side of gift giving can feel very different than the front side.

Giving joyfully then regretting painfully is no fun. Giving should be 100% rewarding all the time. How can we discover this? Can we move to an incredible lifestyle of consistency, dependability, and the rewarding life of generosity? A place where the front side and back side of giving are equally meaningful. Giving is fun at Christmas, but can be painful at church. Why?

I love the book of Proverbs. Virtually every chapter in Proverbs contains amazing life wisdom about finances, resources, marketplace, and generosity. I took the time to put together a brief list of the Top 20 Proverbs on Giving Without Regretting. The key is to lean into all the promises, blessings, and rewards from God. Enjoy!

1. Your Life Success Is Held In God’s Hand. When you are giving you are not losing. Your life success is in His hands, not your hands. Your ability to achieve does not guarantee success; however, your willingness to surrender does.

He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, (Proverbs 2:7 NIV)

2. Your Life Treasures Are Multiplied When They Are Released. When you give to God you are really giving back to God. It was never yours to start with. When we live with an open hand God is able to release what He wants us to have.

Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9,10 NIV)

3. Your Life Will Not Want For More. What is it like to not want anything more than what you currently have? To not worry about today, tomorrow, or the next. God promises He’s got it, so be generous.

The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. (Proverbs 10:3 NIV)

4. Your Life Can Receive Undeserved Blessings. I like getting rewards, but I like undeserved, surprise rewards by grace even better. Load me up, Lord!

The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it. (Proverbs 10:22 NIV)

5. Your Life Can Make An Impact In Your City. Everyone wants to live a life that counts. Usually we think a life of significance is for the mature or successful. Maybe you dream about it happening one day for you. You probably think you need to get some problems solved or gain a new career. Wrong, live righteously today and your city will be blessed.

When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy. Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed. (Proverbs 11:10-11 NIV)

6. Your Life Will Be Prosperous To The Level You Are Generous. It is not about giving to get. However, you can’t stop God from wanting to bless you. So just give and let Him do his thing. It’ll be okay. Maybe even better than okay.

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25 NIV)

7. Your Life Career Will Be Rewarded. Wake up everyday, work hard, and ask God to bless your work. He wants you to be successful at what you do. Bloom where you are planted.

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense. (Proverbs 12:11 NIV)

8. Your Life Savings Will Expand Little By Little. Giving to others doesn’t mean not giving to yourself for future needs and opportunities. You might not see the reward of faithfulness today, but little by little it grows a great return.

Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow. (Proverbs 13:11 NIV)

9. Your Life Will Honor God When You Honor The Poor. Giving to the poor is wonderful, especially when it is the same as honoring God. Every imperfect, hurting, selfish person can honor God. That’s an amazing thought.

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. (Proverbs 14:31 NIV)

10. Your Life Will Be Protected If You Find Yourself Alone. Being alone and the fear of doing without is scary. God protects us when we need to be protected.

The Lord tears down the house of the proud, but he sets the widow’s boundary stones in place. (Proverbs 15:25 NIV)

11. Your Life Will Experience Favor When You Serve Your Leaders. Humility and service are also expressions of generosity. Rebellion, selfishness, disrespect, and entitlement are, well, the opposite. God blesses you when you respect authority figures in your life.

When a king’s face brightens, it means life; his favor is like a rain cloud in spring. (Proverbs 16:15 NIV)

12. Your Life Will Go Places When You Give. Jesus said that the last will be first and the first will be last. He also said that He came to serve and not to be served. Do likewise.

A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great. (Proverbs 18:16 NIV)

13. Your Life Can Give Without Sparing. Need and greed compete with giving. Givers have given long enough to know God gives without sparing so it is okay to do the same.

All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing. (Proverbs 21:26 NIV)

14. Your Life Will Become Free When You Stop Depending On Yourself. You can not make yourself rich. God creates, disperses, and takes away as He pleases. You will always be standing on the same level ground as everyone else no matter your home address.

Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all. (Proverbs 22:2 NIV)

15. Your Life Will Relax When You Realize God Made Money To Come And Go, So Let It Go. Money is simply paper or metal to be circulated among all God’s creation. It is never really yours to keep, so share it.

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. (Proverbs 23:4-5 NIV)

16. Your Life Hope Is Permanently Secure. Change happens and it can be very unnerving. Today change happens rapidly and repeatedly. Money won’t stop change from occurring nor can it provide you permanent peace or hope. God has your future secured and it is a hopeful one.

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 23:18 NIV)

17. Your Life Will Become Consistent When Your Priorities Are In Place. God gave you principles, laws, and truth for your benefit. He does the same for your financial life. Follow the truth and you will be blessed. I think you probably know what the alternative is. You reap what you sow.

Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house. (Proverbs 24:27 NIV)

18. Your Life Will Be Rewarded When You Give To Your Enemies. Giving can be fun, but it can also be hard. Then sometimes, it can be really hard. God has a gift for you when you do the really hard thing like live generously towards your enemies.

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21-22 NIV)

19. Your Life Will Become As Generous Is You Envision It To Be. Vision matters both at work, church, and home. No passion, no priorities, no plan, then no reward. Discover God’s unique vision for you and live it.

Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. (Proverbs 29:18 NIV)

20. Your Life Will Expand When You Focus On Today. Focus doesn’t limit, it expands. Give today all you’ve got at every moment. Be generous when you pray, think, drive, shop, talk, work, and live. You will find more ways to be generous than you imagined. God will care for tomorrow and all it’s worries.

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:8-9 NIV)

If you are a preacher, I dare you to turn this into a sermon series. If you do, let me know. I’d love to see it.

Want to walk through Proverbs with your team to discover how every chapter contains multiple jewels of wisdom about money? If you are struggling with confidence in being the lead financial disciple, or if you just want to sharpen the skills on your team, please check out my book, Leading a Generous Church.

November 25, 2014

Good to Great to Anointed

Good Great Annoited Blog PhotoHave you ever been a part of a good church? How about a great one? Still even better, have you been on a run when you experienced a unique anointing from God? I know when you begin to differentiate between good, great, and anointed you can get on sketchy ground when it comes to churches. Nevertheless, I have definitely experienced some leadership intangibles that are rather consistent, and I would like to pass them on to you.

Here is how I would describe good, great, and anointed for the sake of this blog. A good church is steady and consistent. A great church is in the midst of an exponential return. An anointed church is experiencing something supernatural that can only being explained by the divine interruption of God.

While I have no science to offer, I have intuitively noticed some leadership habits in churches that are enjoying a good ministry as a base, are on a great journey, and in a period of anointing. While I don’t think you can formulate a unique movement of God, I would like to encourage you with a few leadership patterns I have found repeatedly. I hope they spur you to chase the person of Christ and not the form of an above average institution.

1. A deep commitment on the staff to personal holiness and the priority of family.
2. A strong conviction and reliance on the authority of Scripture over life.
3. A personal calling to that specific location.
4. A daily reliance on God in prayer and a keen sense of listening to his leadings. (regular fasting is common)
5. A humility and flexibility to do whatever it takes even if that means dramatic change.
6. A willingness to fail.
7. A demonstrated passion for personal evangelism and life change.
8. A leaning towards bold faith decisions.
9. A powerfully clear and unique vision.
10. A surrender to pursue only the glory of God not the acclaim of others.

I want this to encourage you as a leader to follow God with all your heart. Exponential results may not be seen in dramatic numeric growth. We are called to be faithful to the one who called us. Surrender anew today to your God, staff, people, and city. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that these churches also exhibit average preaching, common music, dated ministries, and disorganized leadership. The special sauce isn’t always what you think.

“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.” 1 John 22:27

 

October 21, 2014

10 Ideas for Growing Generosity with Year-End Giving

year end givingAs we approach the final two months of the year, I’m frequently asked about year-end giving. Many churches will be feeling budget pressures with donations that have lagged behind expenses all year and need to catch up. Others will regularly engage in special offerings or major mission causes needing support. The bottom line request will be, how can I best capitalize on the opportunity and increase giving?

I’d like to expand the conversation a bit beyond just increased giving. Let’s dream about how you can begin to build a generous culture that has both increased short-term giving results along with creating a more permanent foundation for long lasting fruit.

Create a broader strategy that moves beyond a one-time offering to a full-blown vision casting and discipleship strategy. Here is a list and brief explanation of 10 ideas you can engage in to grow a long-term generous culture at your church, while increasing year-end giving.

1. Celebrate your vision.

Churches rarely take the time to celebrate and reflect on God’s goodness. Still, even fewer have a clearly articulated vision that can easily be seen connecting each weekend service, event, and program.

By November the pastor is probably speaking to a number of families who don’t know the vision clearly, have no depth of appreciation for the church story, and have yet to fully connect the purposes and dramatic impact the church has beyond their personal lives. Be a visionary, show them all God has done both in and through them. Throw a party and celebrate!

2. Express thankfulness.

Churches are often great at asking, but not so great at thanking. If you have completed a successful year of ministry impact it is because people have prayed, volunteered, attended, invited, served, and given generously. Be extremely thankful. Consistently thanking builds a better culture then just asking or sharing needs. Giving can be very private, but that doesn’t mean we need not express thanks to those who make such a difference.

3. Tell great stories.

You might consider highlighting a few ministries that received a specific or purposeful investment during the year. Be personal. Nothing is as powerful as the story of a life that was changed.

Also, take the time to tell a story about how wisely money is handled behind the scenes. People sometimes distrust how non-profits and churches handle money. Help people have confidence in your church’s high standard of accountability and practices. People remember stories better than figures.

4. Gather your leaders.

Leaders advance the vision further and faster than anyone else. You will never go wrong by strategically investing in your volunteers and leaders. Generosity studies show that those who attend church more often, give more frequently, and giver larger gifts.

If you do not have a high performing leadership pipeline you are under-achieving. Gather all your volunteers and leaders together. Show them the results of their faithfulness and give them a glimpse of the future.

5. Inspire visually.

Pick a theme to rally around that clearly communicates your vision for this season of generosity. Don’t just tell the story, but help people feel connected to it. Take a cue from non-profit organizations that often appeal with great stories, clearly articulated opportunities, and inspiring support materials. Instead of a numbers-only, budget document, create an annual report that tells the story with stunning clarity and appeals to future opportunities in inspiring ways. Someone once said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

6. Communicate repeatedly.

It isn’t enough to just say it once. If you limit your generosity opportunity to a pre-service announcement slide or a brief mention in the worship guide, you’ll receive the expected result. People rarely remember something they see or hear only once.

You need to align your communication vehicles to repeat, repeat, repeat. Each staff member should know how to share the church’s vision in email, printed pieces, and various leadership settings. The website, e-newsletter, blog, and social media are a must. An established theme and visual brand will also help people identify and remember the message better.

7. Ask specifically.

People give for many motivational reasons. Because people come at generosity from different vantage points, it’s important to be specific. If you do not ask, you do not receive. Be specific and clear. Speak the language of the giver and don’t forget the kids. Children love to be generous. Make sure they have an opportunity as well. This will encourage their parents.

8. Pray boldly.

Tipping non-profits is pretty easy these days. The opportunity to give is everywhere. However, the believer needs to be challenged beyond the tip and past the tithe to a life of extravagant generosity.

The generous life requires sensitivity, readiness, and availability. These three elements come in part from the discipline of prayer. Establish a season of prayer that calls people to be transformed from the inside out. Your ultimate goal is not a big offering at the end of the year, but long-term generous disciples.

9. Teach about the rewards.

Too often giving is seen as a hard habit to create or a discipline to be endured. What if giving is actually the path to a preferred life? We tend to believe generous people are trusting, faithful, positive, sensitive, encouraging, supportive, available, responsive, altruistic, and just really good people. Doesn’t this list provide a strong beginning to a great disposition?

There are so many rewards to giving. It’s helpful for those who receive, but even better for those who give. God promises to provide for and protect the generous. He even promises to multiply their results. Living a big life that is crazy rewarding is definitely possible, but only through the lifestyle of generosity.

10. Go digital.

How many people sitting in your worship service have a checkbook or cash in their wallet? If you don’t have a plan that supports digital giving, you are severely limiting the potential for giving. People give more when it is convenient. This means you need to go digital. Branch out into online, app, and text giving if you haven’t already. People need to know it’s easier to give now more than ever.

You may not be able to integrate all these ideas. However, every church can do some of them. Bring your staff together for a collaborative experience. Use this time to appreciate them, reward them, and allow them to dream. By engaging them in the process you’ll be growing a more stewardship savvy team. Chasing money is fun for no one, but chasing disciples together can be fun for all.

October 15, 2014

7 Campaign Season Practices for Multi-site Leaders

Bryan Rose

Bryan Rose

(This is a guest post by Bryan Rose, Auxano Navigator)

One of the most exciting times to be in church leadership is during the big-vision season of a campaign. It can also be one of the most challenging, especially in a multi-site context. The need for unity, alignment and agreement across ministries, across campuses and even across town calls for every staff member to go above and beyond the norm to ensure clarity of vision. This is especially true in the first-chair leadership role of the Senior Pastor and the second-first-chair position of Campus Pastors.

Here are seven campaign season practices for multi-site church leaders:

Senior Pastor, Multiply Yourself by setting clear expectations and equipping campus pastors to lead with the same passionate effectiveness as you would.
Campus Pastor, Humble Yourself by remembering the weight of the vision your Senior Pastor carries and follow his lead. This is not the season to foster campus autonomy.

Senior Pastor, Create Something for Everyone by crafting campaign initiatives that speak to each campus, even if only one carries the primary focus.
Campus Pastor, Celebrate Everything for Someone by sharing of big plans at other campuses, people give big to vision that is bigger.

Senior Pastor, Speak to the Campus by going the extra mile to speak campaign vision into the context or personality of each campus during this season.
Campus Pastor, Speak for the Church by going the extra mile to reiterate the campaign vision of how God is using the whole church to impact people’s eternity.

Senior Pastor, Sow Vision by diligently tilling and seeding the vision soil… continually drip vision remembering that people aren’t really hearing it, until you are tired of saying it.
Campus Pastor, Reap Stories by diligently watering and harvesting the stories of how the vision is coming to life at your campus. Grab a smartphone camera and play them back at the next staff meeting.

Senior Pastor, Map the Journey by charting the course from start to finish, and building confidence by revealing the plans up front.
Campus Pastor, Guide the Progress by measuring each step and making real-time adjustments to keep the campus on track and progressing.

Senior Pastor, Get Outside the Lines by dreaming bigger, communicating bolder and leading stronger than at any other time.
Campus Pastor, Stay Inside the Lines by avoiding the “next project will be ours” insinuations, remembering it is always better to under promise and over deliver.

Senior Pastor, Go There First by living the sacrificial vision you are laying before the people. They can sense when you are not all-in.
Campus Pastor, Go There First, too by living the sacrificial vision you are laying before the people. They can sense when you are not all-in.

October 15, 2014

Three Important Lessons for Leading in a Rapid Growth Environment

Mac Lake

Mac Lake

(This is a special guest entry by Mac Lake, Auxano Navigator)

This week I spoke with two different pastors who’ve recently built new worship facilities. Within a few short months their churches have doubled in attendance. While they’re thrilled with the growth, they’re now feeling the pain of needing more leaders.

The early church experienced the same type of growth pains. In Acts 6 Luke reports, “the number of disciples was increasing.” While this was a positive development it brought a new set of challenges to the church. In this passage we can find three important lessons for leading in a rapid growth environment.

Lesson #1 Growth always reveals our leadership deficiencies.

“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.” – Acts 6:1

The disciples had to be overjoyed with the rapid expansion of the Gospel but others weren’t so happy. The Hellenistic Jews were concerned because their widows were no longer being ministered to at the level they had been previously. There was a sense of caring community that was being lost because of the numerical growth.

Do you see what’s happening? As the growth of the church was going up, ministry quality was going down. And because ministry quality was going down, complaining was going up. It became obvious there were not enough people to do the work. Growth always reveals your leadership deficiencies. And if you don’t address these leadership deficiencies you may lose the growth you gained. When explosive growth takes place classrooms become understaffed, small groups become large groups, new prospects fall through the cracks and people start to feel disconnected. That’s why it’s essential you have a strategy for developing leaders. A clearly defined strategy ensures you have an intentional plan for identifying, recruiting and empowering an ever-expanding base of leaders.

Lesson #2 Growth will require you to make hard choices about what you will and will not do.

“So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.” Acts 6:2

The Hellenistic Jews wanted the Apostles to do something about the system for caring for their widows. It would’ve been very easy for the twelve to say, “Hey guys, let’s divide this up and each of us take a week, that way each of us only have to distribute food once every three months.” But instead they said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word.” The Apostles decided they would not BE the solution. Instead they wisely demonstrated disciplined focus by staying in the zone of their giftedness and calling.

Sometimes when we feel the pain of a leadership shortage we allow ourselves to BE the solution. That’s when growth is stunted. As your church grows one of the biggest temptations for you and your staff is to “do” more ministry rather than develop more leaders. So as you feel the pains of growth make the hard choice about what you will and will not do.

Lesson #3 Focusing on Leadership Development fuels continual growth.

“Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly.” Acts 6:3,6-7

The Apostles knew in order to sustain growth they had to act in a way that multiplied leaders. So they trained the Hellenistic Jews in a process of identifying and recruiting new leaders. This decision led to seven new men being deployed into leadership. But that wasn’t the biggest win. The biggest win was, “the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly.” The Gospel moved forward, people were coming to Christ and lives were being changed.

One of the most fundamental things you must do in a growing church is build a culture of leadership development. If you wait until the need is pressing then you are already behind. Talk, pray, prepare and lead as if God is going to bring growth. Doing so will cause you to work with your current leaders to begin producing new leaders for the future.

 

 

October 15, 2014

Moving from Temporary to Permanent Space

David Putman

David Putman

(This is a guest post by David Putman, Auxano Navigator)

I’ve had the opportunity to consult with a number of fast growing new churches that were stuck. Without exception at least one of the factors that attributed to their plateau related to space. Sooner or later most new churches have to grapple with the question, “How do we move from temporary space to a permanent space?” Here’s what I found, “The right permanent space resulted in rapid growth for churches that were already on a growth trajectory even if they were stuck.”

At the same time, moving from temporary to permanent space isn’t a simple solution, but requires time, planning, and many resources. With this in mind I’ve discovered that churches that solve the space challenge have leaders who are thinking about permanent space long before they need it. Here are some principles you need to consider.

Operate out of a Preparedness Paradigm

Just the other day I talked to an XP of a fast growing new church. He had contacted us about some vision clarity work and a potential capital campaign. When I asked him what their specific goals were for the campaign he replied, “We just want to be prepared. If an opportunity comes our way we want to be ready.”

We see this with Abram, “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.’” (Genesis 12:1-4 NIV)

Abram heard the voice of God and it appears that he simply gathered his family and animals and set out on a bold adventure that would change all of history. I often ask, “If God was to call us to do a new thing or to do something specific, how long would it take us to prepare to do it?”

We often blame missed opportunities on bad timing when in reality it’s poor planning. We need to get prepared before the opportunity comes our way.

Budget on 90% of Last Year’s Income

Pastor Chris Hodges of Church of the Highlands and board member for ARC (Association of Related Churches) encourages all churches to budget on 90% of last year’s income. You read this right! In other words if you take up $100,000 this year set your budget for $90,000 next year. If you take up $150,000 next year, then you will have $60,000 you can place in a fund for future opportunities. This is great wisdom for any church especially those considering moving from a temporary to permanent space.
Know Your Numbers

“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds” (Proverbs 27:23 NIV). Knowing the condition of your flock was an ancient way of knowing your numbers. It is important not to assume anything when preparing to move from temporary to permanent space. I’ve worked with a number of churches that have purchased a piece of land, designed a building, and then visited a bank only to discover that there is no way they can build the building they’ve spent ten’s of thousands of dollars designing. Start by building a good relationship with a potential lender. Here are some numbers your potential lender will want you to be aware of when it comes to determining your capacity. They are:

• Maximum Annual Debt: 30 to 35%
• Maximum Capitalization: 3 to 4 times your annual income
• Loan-to-Value Ratio: 75%
• Debt Service: 1 to 1.25 annual income
• Consistent History: 2-3 years

 

October 2, 2014

Getting Million Dollar Ready – Post 2

light image 1This is the conclusion to my previous post. If you missed it, please click here.

4. The larger your support base and size of your organization, the greater your opportunity for transforming gifts.

This is both a statement of quantity and quality. The larger the church, the more members you have to give. The larger visionary needs you present increase your chance at receiving key gifts. Donors do measure their gift size based on the size of the need. Smaller and medium size churches rarely have multi-million dollar needs. If your church does have a multi-million dollar need, a key donor desires to participate, but not personally write the project off.

Every church regardless of size and need has the capacity to increase the size of gifts. It is not uncommon for me to interact with a church where 50-60% of its annual gifts are less than $1,000. If you are personally giving $100 to $1,000 annually to a non-profit, you believe in its cause and are involved in its mission. When I see these numbers I am typically in a church that is not in an impoverished zone or struggling locally with massive unemployment. Their constituents have nice homes, cars, and jobs. They just have not been discipled towards financial freedom and the generous life. If you want to increase both your average gift size, number of donors, and volume of larger gifts, you need to create a comprehensive discipleship strategy for all members.

5. Increased investment in staff and long tenured staff.

The healthier the staff is the better. The staff needs to be committed to each other and the long-term vision of the church. Silos and competition are not your friends. When a staff is supported, trained, and continually refreshed it will have positive results. Your business plan should provide for bonuses, raises, and upward mobility within your organization. If a staff member has to leave to discover a more personally rewarding position, it will consistently hurt your organization.

While generosity strongly rests on the desk of the senior leader, a wise pastor will inspire, invest, train, and support his staff. Each staff member should be a powerful visionary in his/her own right. They should have significant relationships with key leaders, and be able to strongly support the over all generosity ministry of the church. Most staff live as if the pastor needs to preach more about money and the administrator needs to keep others from spending so much. This is a very narrow view of stewardship.

6. A healthy financial position produces a future.

The church is not a for profit business, however it needs to demonstrate the highest level of financial success. Churches that consistently spend less than they receive, have a growing amount of cash reserves, and are readily generous to causes beyond their own institutional gain are in a great position to expand their influence. While key donors are viewed as having an excessive amount of resources, they are highly evaluative where they invest. They are not interested in losing money any more than you are.

Be public about how you run the business of the church. Have policies, practices, and consistent results that are worth sharing. There are churches that actually run their business so well that they pay cash for major projects, are prepared to respond to emergencies, and never find themselves in a negative financial posture.

7. Create a dynamic experience for attenders and members.

The leadership culture and financial practices are critical, but we should not overlook how important the weekend experience is to the donor. The proof is in the pudding so to speak. The most powerful ministry for the local church is its weekend worship experience. It needs to be positive, truthful, and life giving from the minute people drive into the parking lot. We all know the difference between the environments of a fast food chain and fine dining experience. The intangibles of the environment matter in the quality of the meal, training level of staff, and willingness to linger are all real experiences.

Interestingly, Auxano put together a vision document some time ago about how to correctly measure the success of a financial campaign. I am so glad our thoughts years ago aligned with the results of the research. To receive a free download of “Measures of a Great Campaign” click here.

October 1, 2014

Getting Million Dollar Ready

light image 1Every pastor dreams of what it would be like to receive a financial gift that would transform the future of the church. For many large institutions, a legacy gift or transformative gift is considered to be $1,000,000 or more. A recent study conducted by Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates and Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, focused its attention not on motivations of the key donor, but the characteristics of the non-profit institutions that receive large gifts. (Here is a link to the report if you are interested.) I took the time to review the research and convert the learnings into the church world. I have been a part of many capital projects that have received million dollar gifts. It may not surprise you that I have seen them come from long time members with a deep relationship to the pastor, church, and community. However, I have also seen more than one come from non-members, new members, and non-resident members.

Most of the pastors I work with under-estimate the potential of people to be extra-ordinarily generous. When you are wired and able to give, you actually enjoy the opportunity when it is presented. You may be saying that a million dollar gift is not in your sights. However, I promise that there are people that you know that are waiting to be more generous than you ever imagined. Please take the time to review my thoughts and step out in faith to create a culture that is ready for a transforming gift.

Just in case you still do not think this content may be for you. I recently visited with a young pastor in a medium size church in a small town. A year after Auxano completed a capital campaign with his church with a strategic focus on key leaders, he reported this finding. At the end of this calendar year their number #1 giver would have previously not been on their top 25 donor list. Not only has this family become the lead donor, but they are now volunteering for key leadership positions in the church. Previously, he was a fan, now he is a serious player in the mission. How many people like this might exist in your church?

Here are the findings that I think you will find important.

1. A long tenured pastor increases the opportunity for a transformative gift.

Relationship, security, and integrity over time are everything to a key donor. The long-term pastor that is able to consistently articulate a powerfully clear vision that connects both the passions of the donor and the results of their donation is critical. Most churches do not have a vision that is clear enough, consistent enough, or large enough to engage a big thinker.

It may surprise you to learn that most high capacity leaders find it very difficult to connect in a significant way to the vision of the local church. They have big dreams and unique passions that are not easily channeled through common church leadership structures. They also have very specific passions. A key donor will give a tip when asked, but they will release a flood when engaged via their passion.

I firmly believe that every lead pastor needs to have a list of 10-50 high capacity leaders that he consistently engages in a mutually meaningful discipleship relationship. This ministry will result in learning that goes two ways, increasing both the confidence of the pastor and transforming leader.

2. A church that has a demonstrated track record for success.

Waste, failure, inconsistency, or lack of clarity hurts churches more than you may realize. I regularly sit in church finance and leadership meetings with lay people who are frustrated by financial mismanagement. It typically revolves around historic church loyalties that over fund ineffective ministries, regularly over spend, or do not have solid practices tying expenses to results. Nothing will chase away a transforming leader like failure, laziness, and incompetence.

3. A senior leader with a clear vision that is easily transferable and calls for actionable support.

A powerfully clear and engaging vision should be tightly aligned with ministry direction, programming priorities, and staff accountability. Remember that key leaders exist in the business world and are held to a high standard of productivity. They are also consistently solicited by significant non-profits for support. You have real competition and a standard by which you are measured.

Learn to be a strong organizational leader. Have a clear vision, align your priorities, spend wisely, and demonstrate results.

Please click here to be taken to the last findings.

August 18, 2014

Breaking Thru to High Capacity Leaders

mentorship-1The question of key donors always comes up wherever I speak, teach, or coach on stewardship. It typically revolves around a few topics like these: what should and shouldn’t a pastor know about donations and issues of favoritism. It is definitely a touchy subject and one we need to shine a powerful light on. I strongly believe that senior leaders need to bear the responsibility of discipleship of key leaders and donors. Here are some thoughts to help you get in the game if you are having trouble.

1. Think in terms of key leaders and influencers, not strictly donors.

You should also think beyond current practice to historical and potential influence. Resources come in all sizes and shapes. Not everyone knows how to use or release them. Broaden the conversation beyond money.

2. People who are high impact often times can live isolated either due to their busy travel schedules or need for privacy.

However, they do desire a few solid relationships with other strong leaders. Pastors uniquely fit this role and have more influence than they may realize. Proceed with confidence.

3. Every believer needs to be discipled, and every believer needs to be serving in line with his or her gift and passion.

Somehow we get this when it comes to hospitality, encouragement, or teaching, but struggle when it comes to generosity. Doesn’t every gift need support?

4. Build the relationship first and let it be of mutual benefit.

Pastors are high capacity leaders themselves who are often isolated and without a mentor. Be friends, listen, and care. Let it become second nature to you.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask.

High capacity leaders need to be asked in a clear and specific way. They are not interested in wasting their time or resources. They respond to high challenge and a successful plan. Don’t let their busy schedules or aloof persona be intimidating.

It may be scary or seem unspiritual to you, but press through. Just as the poor need to be served so do the well resourced. I promise they have less together than you might perceive.

August 5, 2014

10 Principles for Discipling Key Donors

Donor-Hero-2-2Recently I had several pastors step into the ranks of being committed to providing ongoing discipleship to key donors. It began during the planning phase of a capital campaign, which laid the foundation for a long-term fruitful ministry. Each pastor put in place a unique structure that reflected his personality, church culture, and relational network. Though each took a distinct approach the results were the same, exponential. Here is a list of common principles these pastors employed.

1. Be bold. Provide a high challenge at the beginning of the process. Explain the need, role, and expectation of a generosity ministry.

2. Be open. Don’t hide anything, and share even the hard stuff. High capacity leaders will see through it if you don’t. They will also be able to discern how to become a part of the solution.

3. Be a family. Involve both the husband and wife. They are typically accustomed to serving together in philanthropic ventures. They know their roles and can become a powerful team.

4. Be a visionary. The purpose is to go further faster toward the vision. Don’t make the conversation as small as a project or need. Hint, just because the dollar amount is large doesn’t mean the vision is clear.

5. Be a discipler. Every conversation is a discipleship conversation. High capacity leaders tend to be isolated or primarily investing in others. Rarely does a pastor talk their language or does someone speak into their lives. It is your calling to respond to their need. Make it about vision, their particular passion, and the spiritual journey involved.

6. Be a sojourner. Don’t have a short-term-fund-a-crisis or project mindset. Be committed to a long-term discipleship relationship.

7. Be personal. Ask for specific prayer requests, have them into your home, call, and write hand-written notes. Invest yourself into their lives.

8. Be a community. You do not hold all the relationships, and high capacity leaders need to feel a strong connection to the body as a whole. Let leaders engage new leaders in the process. Ask them to share about their journey publicly. It will both challenge and strengthen the church.

9. Be clear. Key leaders want to know the specific need. They desire perspective to process how to respond. If you do not provide this clarity, another non-profit will.

10. Be inspiring. Share personal stories of dramatic life change or behind the scenes success in ministry. Show the impact value of the gift and how the future holds promise.