As a five-year-old at Christmas I remember how excited I was to get my first bike. It was a yellow BMX Huffy, a mean machine for a kid in the late 70s. It is one of my fondest memories because I remember my dad teaching me to ride, although I admit I was more than apprehensive at first. After breakfast he took me out to the street in front of my grandparents’ house and he ran up and down the road holding my seat to steady me. We narrowly missed parked cars as I practiced getting my balance. I felt so grown up and confident in that moment with him alongside me, and by the end of the day I was doing it on my own.
Christmas is undoubtedly a wonderful season of creating fond memories like this one of mine, and of course it’s a season to remember the awesome gift of eternal life from our heavenly father in the birth of the baby Jesus. Still, while this time is meant to be full of joy, for many church leaders it can be full of concern and anxiety because as the end of the year approaches, your church may have fallen short of its annual financial goals and budget. Many churches find themselves facing the challenge of playing fiscal catch up, and pastors, elders, and other leaders play a crucial part in guiding their congregations through this year end journey.
So, what would it look like for you to face this challenge as a church head on? How do you trust God to cultivate generosity to meet the year end needs of your church? Here are a few thoughts and ideas in how to move forward while following God’s lead:
Be Completely Honest and Prayerful
With yourself, with God, and with your congregation. Honesty is the foundation of leadership because it builds trust, and this starts with us being honest with ourselves and prayerful in trusting God. Too often we ignore or avoid financial challenges, or we move quickly to solve the problem because we feel fear, failure, and even shame. It’s important to acknowledge our feelings and even perhaps our shortcomings to ourselves and to God. It’s also important to repent if we need be, and then through prayer, allow God to lead. Proverbs 11:1 reminds us, “The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him” (NIV).
Once we embrace our reality and are honest with God and openly share with the church, this allows for collective prayer, understanding, and shared responsibility. Embracing honesty and demonstrating prayerful submission in financial matters not only builds trust within the congregation but also reflects a commitment to biblical principles, reinforcing the foundation of a spiritually vibrant community.
Be Full of Worship
As you guide your flock through its financial journey, don’t just address budget concerns, cultivate a spirit of giving through worship. Scripture is rich with teachings on generosity and giving that is emphasized in passages like Philippians 4:18, when Paul states, “I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (NIV).
Help your congregation understand that giving is an act of worship and faithful obedience to God’s Word. God owns it all, and what we have is ours temporarily to manage. Our gifts to God acknowledge God’s sovereignty, his mercy to us, and his lovingkindness. Our response in giving is an act of worshipping God for His attributes and declaring His glory.
Be An Example
Asking for sacrificial giving requires a sacrificial giver, and we as leaders are not exempt. Consider openly sharing your own commitment to financial stewardship and generosity as well as personal stories that highlight not just how your giving habits align with God’s call but also be transparent about how they may fall short and how you are trusting God to change that. Essentially, do what you are calling others to do, give generously yourself. By vulnerably demonstrating your dedication to your church, you inspire trust and authenticity among your congregation. Personal anecdotes and illustrations can serve as powerful tools to explain the positive impact of generosity, but nothing compares to humbly giving alongside your community.
Express gratitude openly for the generosity demonstrated by the congregation throughout the year, and for its prayerful consideration to meet year end needs. When you express heartfelt gratitude when inviting congregants into generous giving it creates an atmosphere of appreciation and acknowledges the significance of each contribution. In 2 Corinthians 9:11 (NIV), the Apostle Paul underscores the connection between gratitude and generosity, stating, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” Gratitude is a powerful motivator and a thankful heart lead to deeper faith that encourages continued generosity and a sense of unity within the body of believers.
When church leaders shift the focus from budgets to biblical principles, you can inspire a lasting spirit of abundance within your flock. Remember to embrace finances with honesty and prayer, connect giving to Godly worship, be an example of joyful generosity, and foster a culture of gratitude. As we approach the close of the year, my prayer is that you might not just meet budgetary needs but disciple your congregation by sowing seeds of generosity that will bear fruit for the Kingdom of God.
Aaron Schweizer served more than 20 years as a ministry leader in finance and operations as a full time missionary with Cru, and then with multiple churches in southern California. After receiving his MBA from Cal State University, Fullerton in 2020 he made a career transition to commercial banking, but remains committed to using his knowledge in finance and leadership for building God’s Kingdom. In particular, Aaron now serves in a part-time capacity as the business manager of Home for Refugees USA, a Christian nonprofit organization he and his wife Minda founded in 2017 to mobilize churches to effectively resettle refugees in their communities.
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