Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Valentine's Gift of Stewardship Teaching

Here's a great Valentine's Day gift idea for the couples in your church: present them with a sermon series on financial stewardship. I'm not kidding. You can renew their passion for each other by teaching them God's principles of financial contentment, wise money management, getting out of debt, generous giving, and true prosperity. So, what's so romantic about getting your finances in order?

It is widely recognized that couples fight more about money-how much to spend, how much to save, how much to borrow, and how much is enough-than about any other topic. Check out these stats. According to the National Survey of Marital Strengths, 80 percent of happy couples agreed with the statement, "Making financial decisions is not difficult." Only 32 percent of unhappy couples agreed. Agreement with the statement, "We agree on how to spend money," for happy couples was 89 percent. But only 41 percent of unhappy couples agreed.

Obviously, conflict over money is a powerful romance killer. Happy couples share similar philosophies of how to manage and spend money. Unhappy couples do not. Clearly, we can renew marital happiness by creating unity on this touchy topic. But how?

The best way I know to get couples on the same financial page is to teach them the financial stewardship principles in God's word. My wife Marisa and I have had our share of conflict over the last 20 years-because she's not yet fully sanctified ;-)-but we've almost never fought over money. That's because we each entered marriage committed to living out biblical standards of financial stewardship. In the fifteen years I pastored in Denver, Colorado, I saw many couples find new marital peace and happiness as a direct result of my annual stewardship series. When couples learned that they are stewards, not owners, of God's money and possessions, when they learned their responsibilities to give, and when they learned to live without worry, while trusting in God's promises to provide, they quit fighting over money. And their marriages were transformed.

Never preached a stewardship series before? Here are some ideas from my book Pastor Driven Stewardship: 10 Steps to Lead Your Church to Biblical Giving:

1. Don't preach a sermon on giving; preach a series of sermons on giving. In my fifteen years as a senior pastor, I learned that a stand-alone sermon on financial stewardship, even if preached twice a year, had little impact on people's giving. But the first year I preached a four-week series on the biblical principles of stewardship, my weekly giving increased 32 percent. Which being translated means we had an extra $20,304 to invest in ministry that year. We used the increased offerings to hire a badly needed, part-time staff member.

2. Preach your stewardship series effectively. A four-week stewardship series, preached once a year, if delivered effectively, can increase your weekly giving by 10–60 percent.

3. Make sure your series is biblical. Spiritual power to change the giving habits of your congregation resides in God's word, not in great illustrations. Therefore, in every series be sure to open the Bible and expound the following biblical truths, in this order:

* Preach that we are not owners, but stewards of God's money and possessions.

* Teach biblical principles of wise money management.

* Next, preach about the biblical principles of giving. If you are new to this, start with 1 Corinthians 16 and 2 Corinthians 8 and 9.

* Always end your series by proclaiming the rewards God promises to faithful givers. See Scriptures such as Matthew 6:19–21, 25–33; Luke 6:38; Acts 20:35; Philippians 4:19; and 2 Corinthians 9:6–11.

This Valentine's season, instead of preaching from the Song of Solomon, try teaching stewardship principles from 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. It's certainly not your normal Valentine's banquet topic. But in the long run it might just prove to be more romantic.

Copyright 2007 Rod Rogers

Monday, February 19, 2007

5 Qualities to Look for in a Stewardship Consultant

With only 4 percent of American church members tithing, many churches badly need a boost in offerings. Unfortunately, most of us pastors have no training in stewardship development and have no idea how to lead people to generous, biblical giving.

The Bible tells us what to do in this situation: Hire a stewardship consultant. Okay, that's not exactly what it says, but the message is there. In Proverbs, the wisest man who ever lived tells us that 'Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed' (Proverbs 15:22). And when the apostle Paul wanted to make sure the Corinthians gave generously to the famine-relief collection, he sent men to Corinth to encourage the people.

  • 'So we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work [the collection] as well.' (2 Corinthians 8:6).

  • 'So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead to you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, so that the same would be ready as a bountiful gift and not affected by covetousness' (2 Corinthians 9:5).

Titus and his unnamed companions were the first church stewardship consultants. Just as we hire church staff members with specialized skills in music or youth ministry, so we should not hesitate to engage the temporary services of a minister with stewardship expertise.

All right, you're ready to take the plunge and look for help. How do you know how to find the right consultant? Having hired consultants while pastoring, and now serving as a stewardship consultant, I've concluded that there are five indispensable qualities you want in your stewardship consultant.

1. Biblical.

Above all other qualities, you want someone who builds their stewardship ministry on the word of God. In the Christian world, fundraising isn't primarily about raising money; it's about discipling people.

A good stewardship consultant deepens your people's spiritual walk by building the entire consultation on biblical principles--in both the methods used and the content delivered. God's people respond with great generosity when a pastor or consultant faithfully teaches what the Bible says about money and giving.

2. Pastoral experience.

I'm always amazed at the number of men and women who have never pastored a church, yet glibly dispense advice about how to do it right. You want someone who understands just how important it is that your people be approached tastefully and respectfully about money. Only someone who has been there can really understand the level of discomfort we pastors feel about talking about money, or the Byzantine complexity of internal church politics.

When the church I pastored interviewed stewardship consultants I wanted someone I could talk with pastor to pastor. We ended up hiring someone who had extensive pastoral experience. He had a wonderful ministry to me and our people. And we are good friends to this day.

3. Proven track record.

You want a stewardship consultant who can give you case studies with specific churches, pastors, phone numbers, email addresses, and dollar amounts raised. When the church I pastored was searching for a capital fundraising consultant, one of the biggest and most expensive companies was vague about how much money we could expect to receive. We found that unsettling.

We chose to work with Stewart McChesney of Titus Stewardship Ministries, because Stewart had a track record of raising 2.7 times a church's annual giving in three-year commitments. He charged two-thirds as much as the bigger company and he had years of experience. Under Stewart's wise guidance our people pledged over three times our annual giving in three-year commitments.

When looking for help with increasing weekly offerings, search for a consultant who has consistently helped churches increase giving by at least 30 percent.

4. Great references.

I just fired an Internet marketing coach because a friend alerted me to the fact that none of the references listed on her website checked out. (I had hired her through a larger organization who I-wrongly-trusted.) When I called her she told me her former clients didn't want to be bothered with phone calls. She wasn't at all moved when I pointed out that if a reference can't be contacted, it is worthless.

Insist that any stewardship consultant you are interviewing give you many excellent, contactable references. If she is evasive or makes excuses, you are in danger. Flee!

5. Personable.

You want a consultant who is warm, friendly, and easy to communicate with. Believe me, I have met more than one socially abrasive church consultant! Likeability is an especially important quality in a stewardship consultant because you've hired him to help you navigate the emotionally charged waters of asking for money. If your consultant isn't a warm people person, he may cause unnecessary conflict.

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I believe it is God's will that every church reach its full giving potential. The secret is bold, biblical, pastoral leadership. And often that leadership is most effective when guided by the wise, biblical counsel of a godly stewardship consultant.

The Valentine's Gift of Stewardship Teaching

Here's a great Valentine's Day gift idea for the couples in your church: present them with a sermon series on financial stewardship. I'm not kidding. You can renew their passion for each other by teaching them God's principles of financial contentment, wise money management, getting out of debt, generous giving, and true prosperity. So, what's so romantic about getting your finances in order?

It is widely recognized that couples fight more about money—how much to spend, how much to save, how much to borrow, and how much is enough—than about any other topic. Check out these stats. According to the National Survey of Marital Strengths, 80 percent of happy couples agreed with the statement, "Making financial decisions is not difficult." Only 32 percent of unhappy couples agreed. Agreement with the statement, "We agree on how to spend money," for happy couples was 89 percent. But only 41 percent of unhappy couples agreed.

Obviously, conflict over money is a powerful romance killer. Happy couples share similar philosophies of how to manage and spend money. Unhappy couples do not. Clearly, we can renew marital happiness by creating unity on this touchy topic. But how?

The best way I know to get couples on the same financial page is to teach them the financial stewardship principles in God's word. My wife Marisa and I have had our share of conflict over the last 20 years—because she's not yet fully sanctified ;-)—but we've almost never fought over money. That's because we each entered marriage committed to living out biblical standards of financial stewardship. In the fifteen years I pastored in Denver, Colorado, I saw many couples find new marital peace and happiness as a direct result of my annual stewardship series. When couples learned that they are stewards, not owners, of God's money and possessions, when they learned their responsibilities to give, and when they learned to live without worry, while trusting in God's promises to provide, they quit fighting over money. And their marriages were transformed.

This Valentine's season, instead of preaching from the Song of Solomon, try teaching stewardship principles from 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. It's certainly not your normal Valentine's banquet topic. But in the long run it might just prove to be more romantic.

Friday, September 08, 2006

You Can't Out Give God!

For years I've been in a contest with God to see who can give more: me or God. No matter how much I've given, He has always given me back more financial blessing than I've given to Him.

This is one contest I LOVE losing!

www.dynamicgiving.com

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

True Financial Prosperity

Many of God's people struggle financially because they have a worldly view of financial prosperity which is summarized by the bumper sticker that says, "The one who dies with the most toys wins". Understanding the true nature of financial prosperity will bring great spiritual and financial blessing. I encourage you to practice and preach the following principles.

According to the Bible, you are financially prosperous when three things are true of you:

1. You never worry about money.

"Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things" (Matthew 6:31, 32; all Scripture quotations are from the NASB original edition).

Financial prosperity, according to Jesus, means that you never lie awake worrying about how to pay the bills, you aren't distracted by money worries during the day, and you don't fight with your spouse over money. This freedom from worry is available to every child of God who trusts His heavenly Father to provide all his needs.


2. You always have all the money you need.

"And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything…" (2 Corinthians 9:8a).

God says you are financially prosperous when you always pay all your bills on time and all your needs are always met. And God promises to keep you in this happy condition—-if you are a generous giver.

3. You always have extra money to give to God's work.

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed" (2 Corinthians 9:8b).

Financial prosperity includes always having an excess amount of money to give away to the work of God.

Scripture clearly teaches that God wants to bless His people with financial prosperity. That doesn't mean we'll all drive a Lexus or take a Caribbean cruise every year. But if we live and give according to biblical principles, we will never have to worry about money, we will always have all the money we need, and we will always have extra money to give away.

That's true financial prosperity.

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Rod Rogers, D.Min., is a stewardship consultant, speaker, and author. If you're ready to jump-start your church's giving, hire staff, and eliminate debt, check out his ten-step Dynamic Giving System™. It has helped over 900 churches worldwide biblically increase their giving 10% - 300% in five weeks. Get a FREE twelve-page eSermon when you sign up for his FREE monthly e-zine. http://www.profitautomation.com/app/contact.asp?id=64228

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Biblical Prosperity--God's Will for You?


Welcome to my new blog: Dynamic Giving!

I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts about biblical prosperity and how our giving affects our financial status. I'm also eager to read your thoughts.

Here is one of my fundamental convictions:

It is biblical to pray for--and, therefore, to desire--prosperity in every aspect of life, including finances.

The apostle John makes this clear in 3 John 2 when he writes,

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.
"In all respects" is universal and covers every part of life, including money. Although He never promises to make us rich, the Bible teaches that God wants to bless you financially.

More about what that means next time...