Larry Osborne, co-author of Sticky Church, is very fond of saying, “If churches spent as much time and energy counting faces as they did dollars, they would not have a growth problem.” We at Church Community Builder couldn’t agree more.
And many church leaders say they agree with Larry’s statement as well — but unfortunately, they often make decisions that run contrary to that statement. For example:
- Churches don’t offer a variety of easy ways for people to give, because it takes too much money and effort to set them up.
- Churches will invest in systems and processes that count money, but not in those that will help them count faces.
- Churches place more emphasis on the financial reports than the involvement or engagement reports in their church management systems.
- Churches don’t care whether small group leaders track individual attendance and participation each week. Just knowing who signed up is enough.
These churches don’t seem to understand that they’re in the people business. In that business, good stewardship isn’t just about counting dollars. The parable of the talents reminds us that living according to Biblical principles is not about avoiding risk by simply preserving what we have today. Rather, the Bible calls us to invest what we’ve been given — both individually and as church communities — to advance God’s Kingdom far beyond what we’ve ever thought possible in our own power. That comes by making investments into the systems and processes that will create deeper levels of engagement and more disciples. This is the way to truly change lives and communities in our day.
In your church, you’ve got choices when it comes to how you use your resources:
- Do you invest in recruiting and growing great staff, or do you settle for the people you can get for as little pay as possible?
- Do you spend valuable time, energy, and resources to develop new things, or are you just recycling and refining what you already have?
- Do you create channels for feedback and measuring metrics so you know where and how to adjust your ministry efforts, or do you rely on the anecdotal evidence and ‘gut feelings’ of your leaders and volunteers?
Being a good steward is about far more than just making sure your balance sheet is in good shape; it’s about doing the most ministry and changing the most lives possible with the resources God has given you. If there’s any organization in the world that should be using its resources differently and effectively, it’s the church. We do that not only by lowering our expenses (which is good financial management), but also by using the resources we have to develop and grow disciples.
It’s always about people, not dollars. And growth is never a money problem; it’s always a people problem. When you’re focused effectively on reaching people and growing disciples, money often takes care of itself.
If you look at your bank statement, does it show that you believe changing lives and making disciples is the most important work you can do?