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Donald Gerig became president of Fort Wayne (Indiana) Bible College in 1986 after years of parish ministry, most recently as pastor of Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois. From familiarity with parish and institutional finances and academic research in personal finance for pastors, he recommends:
How You Can Manage Your Money (Augsburg)
by John Warren Johnson
If I were to buy only one book on personal finances, this would be the one. Page for page, Johnson gives some of the best practical advice to be found on managing money. He deals in a down-to-earth way with housing, food and clothing, and insurance and investments. A helpful glossary of basic financial terms is included.
Your Money Matters (Bethany)
by Malcolm MacGregor and Stanley C. Baldwin
This book's strength lies in the background principles it illuminates. MacGregor includes informative sections such as "settling the ownership question" that set up a solid context for handling one's money.
Although some readers (including this one) will have trouble with MacGregor's views regarding family structure that slip into the discussion, most of his help is without controversy. He concludes with advice concerning estate planning that all should consider.
Your Finances in Changing Times (Moody)
by Larry Burkett
While Burkett includes some practical suggestions in the book, they would not make up its strength. Rather, its forte is his treatment of principles that affect the way we think about money.
Burkett shares some definite ideas about our economy, credit, and other matters that will troublesome, but he includes useful observations about our need to think differently from the world when we manage our personal finances.
New Models for Financing the Local Church (Morehouse)
by Raymond B. Knudsen
This is one of the few books that deals exclusively with finances in the local church. Knudsen covers a host of issues from budget preparation to wills and bequests. He includes several thought-provoking ideas (like giving by automatic bank withdrawals) that could profitably be explored by progressive churches.
I consider this book not necessarily the solution to specific problems with
church finances, but a spark for some creative thinking about them.
Your Church Has a Fantastic Future (Regal)
by Robert Schuller
This book touches finances in a chapter called "Fund Raising Can Be Fun." He states, "No church has a money problem, only an idea problem." And the rest of the book presents a case for planning big and making program pay for itself.
In his characteristic way, Schuller pleads the case for dreaming, setting goals, and remaining positive. Like him or not, Schuller is a promoter, and he offers some great principles that any church can follow as it develops its own approach to stewardship.
Management for Your Church (Abingdon)
by Alvin J. Lindgren and Norman Shawchuck
Getting the Church on Target (Moody)
by Lloyd Perry
Although neither of these books is devoted exclusively to finances, both offer insightful chapters covering church budgeting, account control, and fund raising. If the books share a common fault, it is what I consider an overemphasis on broad congregational participation in the budget process.
Following the Lindgren/Shawchuck plan, for instance, would occupy an inordinate amount of congregational energy for finances alone. But that aside, these titles remain valuable resources.
Let's Be Realistic about Your Church Budget (Judson)
by Douglas W. Johnson
Parish Planning (Abingdon)
by Lyie E. Schaller
The strength of both these books is that they place financial planning in the context of overall church planning, making the budget actually a planning document for the church. Probably neither book will be the full answer for your church, but both raise the right questions.
Copyright © 1987 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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