Jeff Manion is a risk taker. He became pastor of Ada Bible Church near Grand Rapids, Michigan, when it had 25 people, and during his first seven years, he had to overcome three stalled building programs so the congregation could move into its first decent building. Now, he's been with the church for 30 years, and it has grown significantly both in numbers and in the risks it's been willing to take. On the topic of money, he's pushed himself from an apologetic and timid preacher to someone who looks forward to covering such themes as earning, saving, borrowing, and giving generously.
It may surprise you, then, to learn that Manion's new book is about contentment. How can a man whose ministry has been characterized by vision and progress champion contentment? Marshall Shelley and Paul Pastor sat down with Manion to discuss the difference between institutional and personal satisfaction, what it takes to build a church culture of generosity, and why "contentment" isn't the same thing as "lack of ambition."
Your latest book explores contentment. What does contentment look like in ministry, specifically with money?
It means that people live simply, live on less than they can afford to live on. This provides financial margin to give money away. It means that all of us in our church spend less than we make so our resources are available to the kingdom of God. It means people are content with less so they can give more.
By contentment in ministry, I don't mean lack of vision, lack of discipline, or lack of initiative. I don't mean I'm content with a bad situation remaining bad. I don't mean laziness or complacency. The apostle Paul said, "I have learned to be ...