Many people have a love/hate relationship with 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 article 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. Love/hate.
No wonder Jesus warned us we can’t serve both God and Mammon, the god of money (Matthew 6:24). 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 – especially in a small church.
But helping those who are in even greater need than we are is one of the primary callings of the church. Which makes this one of the challenges every small church has in common: how do we do more ministry with so little money?
Because of my intense dislike of money, I have written very little about it, but it’s one of the subjects I am asked about most often.
So, despite my misgivings – or maybe because of them – today is the first of several blog posts on the subject of Money And The Small Church. Click here to read more posts in the series.
There are three reasons I’m writing this series:
1. Money Touches Everything
Truly 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 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 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?
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 local congregation. We learn lessons the hard way, but those lessons live and die with us, seldom being passed along to anyone else who could use them. I think it’s time to change that.
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
Other Articles In This Series
Some of the working titles for upcoming Money & the Small Church posts are as follows. (Click on posts wth a link):
- 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
- Creating and following a reasonable small church 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
With God’s help, we may discover that we know a lot more about this than we realize.
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