Why Your Church Should Never Have Enough Money

Much time is spent in church talking about money problems.  Usually it is about not having enough money.  This is usually caused by a lack of vision, a decrease in attendance, or no clear emphasis on stewardship (Jesus talked more about money and possessions than heaven and hell combined) to name a few.

yay-783478Those are all things that can be remedied.  I believe though that beyond these things the church should never have enough money for another reason.  If you have enough money as a church to fund your vision then your vision is too small.  I believe that vision should always outpace financing.

I once heard that every pastor should keep in his or her desk a rough architectural sketch of future building expansion in case a large donor comes and offers a large gift and asks “where can it best be used?”  Of course, vision is not primarily about buildings but what about keeping a plan and vision for an after-school tutoring program, or a vision to provide housing for unwed teen mothers or a vision to plant 250 churches in 30 years?

In the end, if you have funded your vision it is time to ask God for a newer and more bold and ambitious vision for God’s glory.  When we do this we make a statement of faith and claim the promise that God is indeed able to far more than we can even ask or imagine.

So, I hope your church never has enough money!  Not because of a lack of vision, or attendance issues or because leadership refuses to talk about giving.  I hope you never have enough money because God has given you a vision so large that without God’s help it cannot be accomplished.

Church Announcements 101

It is funny how making announcements becomes a contentious issue in the church.  Some people wonder whether there should even be announcements.  Others can’t stand when the announcements go on for 10 minutes.  Still others find the placement of the announcements within the worship service is disruptive.

announcementsWhen it comes to whether or not there should be announcements in the church, then answer is it depends.  It depends on the style of worship you use, the size of your church, and what other means of communication you use to let people know what is happening at the church.

I have been to many small churches where the announcements are folksy, from announcing next Saturday’s Ice Cream Social to announcing the BBQ and Gospel Sing at the Ruritans in a few weekends.  There is nothing wrong with this and the guest is not turned off when they come to church and hear these announcements.  In many of these places church is still an important part of the community.

For a large church with many things going in it might be impractical to rely on announcements from the pulpit to communicate church and community happenings.  If a church is new and never had announcements, why start now?  Again, it is important to find an alternative way to communicate.

Church announcements, despite what some people think, are not the holy grail of communication nirvana.  I have heard many a church member say “If we can just get the pastor to announce it on Sunday!”  This is lazy and chances are persons are not listening especially well anyways during the announcements.  Send an email to your group and stop putting all your eggs in one basket relying on the pulpit announcement!

If you do have to make announcements in church, limit them to a warm welcome from the pastor and two major announcements that apply to the whole church. Don’t make announcements that pertain to the ten women in the United Methodist Women or the six couples in the Sunday night small group.  Ensure they are church-wide announcements.  Believe me, you will not make friends if this has not been the practice of the church.  But for the sake of the guest and flow of worship you must institute such a rule and be consistent.

Call me a control freak but I always think the Pastor should make the announcements.  I never wanted someone wandering down a rabbit hole when they made an announcement, giving a sermon, or not talking loud enough for people to hear.  It is also one of those things, once you let one person do it you open the floodgates.

Lastly, don’t ever say, no matter how small your church, “see Mary Jane who is collecting orders for pie if you want to order a pie.”  Not everyone knows who Mary Jane is- don’t assume they do.  Always have some type of written announcement with contact info.

What are some of the worst announcement practices you have seen?  What are some of the best?

Leaders Must Smoke What They Are Selling

Growing up in the “projects” of my hometown 50 miles outside of Boston I was exposed to my fair share of drug lingo.

yay-8663094The stuff I was exposed to is all legal now in some places and probably wouldn’t be a big deal now but back then it was still on the hush, hush.  I would sometimes hear those who operated in this world say that those selling “Needed to smoke what they were selling.”

By smoking what they were selling the seller of the illicit drug would be proving that the drug was of the finest quality.  If they wouldn’t smoke what they were selling they would lack credibility for themselves and their product and this would be a problem.

And while I am sure that it never in a million years crossed John Maxwell’s mind when he wrote the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership I think he would agree that leaders need to symbolically “smoke what they are selling” as this affects their credibility.

This is especially true when it comes to leadership in the church.  While no one expects pastors to be perfect, there is an expectation they would practice what they preach.  I know the sermons I have preached in my life were every bit meant for me as for those in the congregation.  Likewise, I felt if I asked the congregation to do something, I should be willing to do it myself.  The danger in the church when we don’t “smoke what we are selling” is it not only affects our credibility as leaders but we run the risk of disparaging the message of the Gospel as the messenger.

There will be times when we fail to live up to this standard.  I know I have on quite a few occasions.  This said, it is always wise to examine ourselves to ensure we are “smoking what we are selling.”

Are there other ways church leaders can ensure they are “smoking what they are selling?”