Christian Stewardship Network http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com The Christian Stewardship Network is a Christ-centered, non-profit organization made up of local church practitioners who champion biblical stewardship. Thu, 29 Mar 2018 23:56:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Square-CSN-Logo-150x150.jpg Christian Stewardship Network http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com 32 32 Talking about your money is both emotional and personal. The Christian Stewardship Podcast will inspire you to pursue the truths about living in financial freedom and sharing these plain truths with those that you are leading. Learn more at http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/ Christian Stewardship Network clean Christian Stewardship Network christianstewardshipnetwork1@gmail.com christianstewardshipnetwork1@gmail.com (Christian Stewardship Network) A podcast for stewardship champions Christian Stewardship Network http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/Christian_Stewardship_Network_Podcast_Cover.jpg http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com Biblical Stewardship: Connecting Across Cultures http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/biblical-stewardship/biblical-stewardship-connecting-across-cultures/ Wed, 29 Nov 2017 16:42:37 +0000 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/?p=4083 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/biblical-stewardship/biblical-stewardship-connecting-across-cultures/#respond http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/biblical-stewardship/biblical-stewardship-connecting-across-cultures/feed/ 0 <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/biblical-stewardship/biblical-stewardship-connecting-across-cultures/">Biblical Stewardship: Connecting Across Cultures</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com">Christian Stewardship Network</a>.</p>

George Thompson

In this month’s episode of the CSN Podcast, called Biblical Stewardship: Connecting Across Cultures, our Host George B. Thompson welcomes special guest, Paola Easton. Paola is the Finance Director and Stewardship Pastor at Birmingham City Church (BCC) in the United Kingdom.
George and Paola discuss the three biggest areas of financial concern that people are facing right now. Serving in churches in California and in the United Kingdom, they find common ground on the topic of Biblical Stewardship and how to minister to people inside and outside of the church. During this conversation, you will hear how similar our cultures are across the nations when it comes to God and money.

If you have questions or to provide feedback on this podcast, please contact us at info@christianstewardshipnetwork.com. We would love to hear from you!

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Biblical Stewardship: Connecting In Every Culture

Pastor Paola Easton

Paola Easton is the Finance Director and Stewardship Pastor at Birmingham City Church (BCC) in the United Kingdom and has been an active member there since 1998.
She joined the staff team in 2008 in response to a need and as a step into deeper ministry. Since 2013, Paola has been developing the Stewardship Ministry within BCC; this is something she is profoundly passionate about and eager to teach. Her desire is to see people transformed in their daily lives through implementing Godly principles and perspectives to the way that they manage not only their finances, but also their abilities, from God as they step into greater service for Him.
Paola is married to Danny, an Elder within BCC, and they have two children – Jake and Alessia. Paola enjoys traveling and cooking, and both her tiramisu and banana and nutella muffins have an ever increasing fan club.

 

 

Can’t listen right now or rather read a transcript of this episode of the CSN Podcast?

The following transcript* has been edited for space and clarity.

George: Welcome to the Christian Stewardship Network. We are here to empower pastors and leaders in the local church to be the best they can be for their congregations and to be kingdom builders in the community. You can learn more about CSN by going to the christianstewardshipnetwork.com.

My name is George B. Thomson, your host for the CSN Podcast. I serve as the Pastor of Stewardship and Finance at Faithful Central Bible Church in Los Angeles, California. It is my honor to host today’s conversation. Praise the Lord!

I am excited today! We are going to be interviewing Paola Easton from Birmingham City Church (BCC), where she is the Pastor of Stewardship and the Director of Finance. Good day, Paola as we talk about biblical stewardship.

Paola: Hi George, thanks for having me today.

George: Thank you, so glad you are here. There’s so much information that I want to go over with you, so, I want to get right into it. First of all, how did you start off in ministry?

Paola: It’s quite a long story actually, so; I’ve tried to condense it for you.

I grew up in a Christian home and have been fortunate to have good mentoring by my parents in the area of finance. I often thought that that was what everybody experienced with their parents or guidants. I grew up in church. I had very strong convictions on biblical principles and didn’t always appreciate just how deep those principles were in me.

So often, I would have conversations with people who just did not understand church people, who would often ridicule my stance on biblical financial principles. This was quite a difficult thing for me, and so I would often not talk about these things.

About six years ago, God really challenged me during a prayer time. I had talked about being more generous; I considered myself to be a very generous person. I’d heard very inspirational stories about people who lived on small portions of their income and gave away large portions. I said to myself, “I want to be that sort of person.”

So, God challenged me in a prayer time and said, “You know, you’ve said this about yourself that this is a goal. But I’m saying to you today; this is not a goal. And the reason it’s not a goal is because you’re not doing anything about it. You’re saying you want to be a generous person, but you’re not being generous.”

I was fully aware that generosity starts beyond the tithe and yet I had somehow convinced myself that being an obedient, faithful tither that I was now generous.

God challenged me in that area and then told me, “I want you to double what you give as your benchmark and baseline for generosity.”

This was quite a shock for me because I was comfortable in the position that I was in. I would often talk and encourage people to begin stepping out and trusting God and tithing, knowing that they were fearful, that they were nervous about it.

And God said, “I want you to feel that again because you run on auto-pilot. You’re not scared, you trust me, you have faith in me. But I want you to start trusting me again at a deeper level.”

So, this whole process took about 18 months, from God telling me to me having the faith and the trust in Him actually to step out and do that. But what happened, as a result, was I believed that God began to open some serious doors for me.

About nine months after I was obedient to what God has asked me to do, we were invited as a church to participate in a learning community that was run by our leadership network. The whole theme of this learning community was how to cultivate generosity within your church. We attended the first meeting, not really knowing what to expect, and we were introduced to people from Gateway Church. The whole concept of stewardship was laid out before us.

And I’m sitting there thinking, all of these years I’ve had this within me. I didn’t know it had a title. I didn’t know it was a ministry and you’re telling me that there are pastors out there doing this full-time, who are seeing great results, impacting their churches and communities and now this is being presented to me. And I felt…well, I went away from that event with a clear call on the meaning of my life.

I felt like now God was saying, “You’ve kept it quiet for so long, now I’m giving you the platform to be able to speak this for me. Will you do this for me?”

And that’s really in a nutshell how this has all come about. By total surprise on my part, how through an act of obedience, God has opened doors and how quickly things have started to fall into place and happen for us.

George: Wow, that’s amazing. I didn’t know all that. At the beginning, you said that your parents taught you a lot of stewardship and things about finance and different things.

Paola: Yeah.

George: What are some of the things that they taught you about generosity and managing your own personal tithes?

Paola: Yeah, more on the side of managing finances really. Because my parents didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up and I was acutely aware of that. In fact, there was a period where on one of the days I’d come home from school and my dad had turned around and said, “I’ve now invested in this ice-cream truck to sell ice-cream.” And I’m thinking, great, I’m six years old, and my dad sells ice-cream. “I get free ice-cream!”

But the reality of the situation was that interest rates on mortgages were at 15% plus and he had been reduced to a three-day week at work; he had to put food on the table, he had to pay the bills. And what they did back then was they didn’t go and get money from a loan, they worked harder. They financed their needs that way. So, I didn’t know that at the time, obviously, but now I do.

My parents were very open about the difficulties that they had, the fact that you can’t just have everything that school kids have. I learned very early on that I needed to be careful and that it wasn’t that they were withholding things from me because they didn’t love me or anything of that nature, but it was because they simply didn’t have the funds to do that. And so there was a lot of the management side things, not so much on the generosity side. But looking after being careful with what we had at that time.

George: It appears they taught entrepreneurship and then also just to work harder and to save up to be able to do certain things, which is good.

Paola: Exactly, yeah.

George: You said that you also began work with the leadership network. Is that how you learned about the Christian Stewardship Network?

Paola: Yes, yes, because of our connections with getting to know some of the people like Gunnar Johnson, who was serving at Gateway church at the time. It was Gunnar who actually invited me to come along to the CSN Forum in Dallas, which I was able to attend last year.

That was my first encounter with CSN as a group and what they stood for and what they were trying to do, which was just so exciting because it’s unheard of as a ministry in the U.K. really.

George: Also, that’s actually true in the United States actually too, is that a lot of times with CSN as a Christian Stewardship Network and when we come, and we meet, I actually thought…I didn’t know any other pastors of stewardship. Then, I met Pastor Robert Morris; he set for me to meet Gunnar Johnson.

I started coming to meetings, and then I found out there’s a group of people who are not only in the areas of stewardship, but making it a whole life issue.

You know, your time, how well you measure time, your talent, and your treasure (to be very generous.) How was all of that spoke about translated into how you teach at the church? How did you get the position at your church?

Paola: One thing that I’ve picked up on in my time with getting to know the CSN group and also being part of the learning community was how often there are difficulties with the senior leaders of churches not getting on board with the stewardship ministry or not seeing it as important.

When we embarked on this learning community, my senior minister, Pastor Mark Ryan, was equally taken with it. There was no need to convince him that this was something that needed to happen.

He could, also, clearly see what God had been doing in me over the years that he’d known me. And for him, it was easy fitting two pieces of the puzzle together. It was a little bit harder for me because I started to doubt whether I was the right person for the role.

Do I really want the title of a pastor? Am I good enough to do this? I’m not sure I am.

But then I began to realize, all the years of preparation, all the things that God has been speaking to me, that I’ve been doing against the odds. I’ve still stuck to it.

God has been faithful; God has opened doors.

Why would this not be right for me to do that? So, it was sort of at the end of our two-year learning community process that we decided to make it official and announce it to the church that I would now take on this role, at the same time as still doing my finance director role.

George: Right, so you were already a member of the church, and you were already on staff. The, you switched over to also doing stewardship in that area.

There are some burning questions I had (I had these before we started our conversation) so, I have to ask them.

If I went to your church, and I just walked in, sat down, and started asking people, “What’s your biggest financial concern?” Then, I started polling the next person, “What’s your biggest financial concern?” What would they say?

Paola: I think there are a lot of concerns about just the general cost of living at the moment. How do we make ends meet?

A lot of people are in debt, and I think they see debt as a solution to their issues.

And what we have been trying to do over the last three or four years is in presenting the message of stewardship and managing things differently, in a godly way. That debt doesn’t have to be what often is termed as a necessary part of our lives. You can operate without debt but they just need to be shown how. And have never had that option presented to them before.

George: Right. The cost of living is rising with inflation.

When you go to a movie, or buy food or do everyday things, prices are rising, and we’re not seeing people’s salary increase at the same rate. Things are becoming more expensive. (And just so you know, these same issues are the exact same ones in the United States.)

So that’s why I want to make sure we talk about them because we understand the biblical way of approaching them. One of the principles is just learning to be content with what you have. You know, a lot of times people are trying to get more and more and more. With the rising cost of living in the U.K, I’m sure it’s getting more expensive.

The area of contentment is one that people really struggle in. Are there certain classes or how do you teach that to people?

Paola: Well, when we came away from the learning community, I begun to just soak and saturate myself in whatever books I could find, whatever messages I could listen to, to get more and more of the language to use to present this to other people, to be able to qualify the things that I felt deeply convicted by.

So we started to drip feed that into the congregation, whether that was just through an announcement part way through a service, we do offering talks every week. So the offering is never just…you know, we don’t just pass that along and ignore it and try and forget that is happening. We make a point of teaching in that. It’s not always myself. So we try as well to make sure that people see this is not just Paola’s issue, this is not just what she’s passionate about. But the whole church is really behind this in terms of the leadership, we all believe this. So we’ll share that out.

George: On a previous episode of the CSN Podcast, Chris Willard said,

  1. You want to teach it,
  2. You want to preach it.
  3. Then, you want to have a testimony about it (celebrate it.)

It’s good that we’re sharing this. It’s similar in the sense that we’re talking about what the issues are. So, that’s humanizing it for the people that are feeling alienated, saying, “I’m the only one that has this financial issue.”

But, you know, everyone has the same issues. Thinking about debt, many times people think that whenever someone gives them a loan, they’re handing them a rope. But they’re actually handing them a shovel, and they’re getting deeper in a hole.

So, one of the things is just showing them just to stop, just stop.

And then not only are we going to pray for you, but we’re also going to work for you and then we’re going to show you how to get out.

But you have to teach people to get out on their own; it’s not going to take 15 minutes in doing it. It didn’t take you 15 minutes to get in; we’re going actually to have to get out. You show people the method.

Just as in using and leveraging that offering time and communicating with the people, so it goes both ways.

You’re not saying just figure it out, but hey, we have resources available to help you. And then it’s great because, at the Christian Stewardship Network, we have a lot of resources to help in that area but also that you’re reaching out and doing it.

  1. So, the first area of financial concern you said was that the cost of living is continuing to rise.

  2. Then, there’s debt.

  3. What’s another big area of financial concern?

(By the way, we can talk about debt for a long time because we also taught a class where we went out in the community. We asked people what class they wanted. One of them was how to get out of student loan debt. We had people come to that class, and they were wrapped around the room. As we were getting started to pray, people raised their hands and had questions. We were like, “Hey, can we present a little bit of the material first?” You’re in a different area, so I don’t know if it’s the same. I want to find out what your third biggest area of financial concern is, but just to let you know, here there is student loan debt. I don’t know if that is an issue (in the U.K.?)

Paola: It is, it’s a very big issue, too. It’s not something that I’m getting many questions about currently, but we have got sort of a thriving student ministry developing now.

One of my plans is to take some of the courses into their group, take it to them. Because they’re not likely to come to me, so I’m going to go to them.

And really just to put some foundations in for them, so that they can start to think about things differently. Because they’ve grown not knowing anything different, but I’ve grown up knowing things a lot different.

Just 20 years ago, things were so different. Whereas now debt is the normal. Twenty years ago it wasn’t.

And so I’m very conscious that they don’t know anything differently about it, they’ve not been modeled anything differently. Then, why do we expect them to know what to do unless we show them?

George: Then again, do the numbers shock you? Like when you sit in a class and someone says, “I have $100,000 in debt.” They just say it, like it’s not a big deal. Or some people go to law school, and they hear it’s $200,000, and they’re just like…I’m just like that’s a high number.

Paola: I think people are a little bit more reserved in the U.K. in sharing that type of information. So, they may honestly say yes, I have debt but to give you the figure, what I’m finding is that they actually don’t know the figure is more of the reality.

They don’t like talking about money and that’s been one of the things that we found difficult in getting the ministry off the ground is getting people to attend a class. Because they feel a degree of shame or there is a stigma attached to that because if I attend your class, then I’m admitting to everybody that I have a problem.

That made me reconsider the way that we advertise the classes. We started to talk to people more in lines of this is a discipleship class, it’s just another element of what we do, it’s a Bible study.

I didn’t want to jump straight in with just a practical budgeting class because I didn’t want to get people out of a messy situation but then not teach them how to stay out of it.

So, I tended to go with more the foundations first saying let’s lay that principle that God gives us, let’s tackle some of those mental pressures that we have, the external culture that is always fighting against us, trying to get us to do things in a certain way.

Well, how does that marry up with what God wants us to do? And so, are we overspending because we’re not content? Are we overspending because we’re simply out of control and that we don’t see the consequences of what we’re doing?

So, I started to tackle those issues first.

Then, once they begin to realize God’s heart, once they began to see, “Oh, there’s another way of doing it,” then I started to give them the practical ways of how to deal with whatever situation they were in at that time and so marry the two together that way.

George: That’s good because it’s one of the things that’s important (from what you’re saying), is to have the biblical content. When they understand what God’s plan and purpose is for their life, they’re much more able to receive the practical portions.

Because that’s one of the things, we’ve always struggled with in doing this.

Many times, we tend to break people up into different groups:

  • There are people that are struggling and sinking, that means they can’t pay their bills.
  • Then, there are steady people, meaning they pay their bills.
  • Then, there are solid people, and they’re doing pretty good.
  • And in the last group, there are surplus people, those with extra money, highest level service and able to give.

One of the things I see (that you, also, talked a little bit about) is we want to teach all the classes, to everybody in the church. Because then, it’s not that someone is coming to the class because they’re in debt or trouble or going into the hospital.

Everybody needs to have a consultant or a coach. Continuing to do that, but do it biblically.

This is what separates us from the other people that are doing that. So, that’s a very good point that you brought up.

Paola: Yeah, it just makes it a very safe environment.

People are very skeptical about classes of this nature, especially in the U.K. And I find it’s helpful to break down that, in some ways we’ve had almost to undo certain things.

We haven’t even started at zero, we’ve had to go backward and undo things in people’s minds and attitudes so that we can then start at zero and build from there. And it’s just been a very safe and trusting way to do that.

George: That’s great. What’s another financial concern that someone in your church has asked about?

Paola: I think one of the other ones that comes out is sort of the other end of the scale about the future and pensions, savings, retirement. What sort of investments do I need to have?

Sometimes, there’s an indication there that people are scared of their future. An indication that they’re not really trusting that God’s got them and that God is their provider. That they are looking to an insurance policy or a pension or an investment, stocks, and shares and that type of thing is, you know, that’s where my security is.

And so I’m saying, you know, it’s not wrong to plan for the future, it’s not wrong to have a retirement investment plan or savings. But are you doing it for the right reason?

Yes, God wants us to plan, but he doesn’t want you to have your reliance totally on that rather than on him. There has to be that balance.

George: That’s why it’s the Biblical stewardship principles that you must be teaching.

I’d love to get a lot more information on this beyond this podcast. But, for us to understand that point because that’s where it’s them understanding God’s plan and purpose for them other than just being content.

Secretly people don’t wanna share, where they should be saying, “I want to share.” We had those same issues here in Los Angeles and across the United States in 2008.

Then, the economy got bad; everybody was like, “Hey, look I’m in trouble.” They just started setting up the life preservers.

They were saying, “Hey, I just need help.” So actually, when you get into difficult economies, people just want help. So, it’s great that you use that particular method.

I have one more question about your church. You know, every church has a slogan, or there’s something that their church has a mission in their area.

So I just want to know what the mission was of your church and then how you bring stewardship into the mission of the church and what the senior pastor also believes.

Paola: Well, for Birmingham City Church, our mission statement really is “transformed lives transforming lives.”

There’s an emphasis on we have to be transformed in whatever area that is, continually through our growth as Christians, so that we can then impart something to somebody else and transform and be a part of the transformation of somebody else’s life.

In terms of stewardship, I was really taken with how I picked up from the Forum that I attended in Dallas last year, that the connection between the amount of growing spiritually and the fruit that we bear is directly related to our attitudes towards finance and how we handle them. And if we have that wrong, it is going to hinder our spiritual growth.

And so, in terms of looking within our congregation of believers, I’ve really tried to get that point across.

Look, this is really important that you understand God’s heart because He wants you to grow, He wants you to be more like Him, he wants you to be generous like Him. He wants you to be loving and caring and reach out to your fellow neighbors and community and be a part of their life transformation. But you have to allow God to transform you too. And money is such a big part of that. If I can help you to understand that and release more of God’s blessing through you to affect somebody else, then we can start this snowball effect.

And then on the other side of things, in terms of non-Christians in our community, one of our biggest expressions is through our food bank. We have people who really are on the poverty line.

Maybe, their benefits have been stopped. They’ve lost jobs quite suddenly. They have no means of buying food for themselves or their family. So, they will come along to the food bank, and we will sit with them while food is being prepared for them, offer to pray with them. They know that we are the church. We don’t ram that down their throats, but we offer it to them if they want that.

One of the things that I wanted to do was to see how I can teach to impact non-Christians, how can I get non-Christians to come into a church venue maybe?

We have an organization in the U.K. called Christians Against Poverty. And they work primarily through churches. So they are very evangelistic in their approach, and their heart is to win the lost and secondly, to help them get out of debt. They are well-known and respected in the U.K. You do not have to be a Christian to get help from them. And so I started to look at, what would it be like to have maybe a partnership with this organization?

They had courses that they’ve put together that work really well, so I tried that. And it’s currently something that I’m looking to put on so that people at the food bank can come to our church venue and go through a practical financial course showing them how just to make the most of what they have.

But, we’ve got them through the doors, and they are thinking, you know, the church is just a steeple and a cross on the top of the roof and wooden pews and people singing hymns and have no idea what a city church in their context is like.

And so to be able to get them through the doors and actually say, “Hey, why don’t you come along and see what we’re about. But let us help you with this financial situation and teach you how to make things work better for you.”

That’s a tool that we’re currently exploring at the moment. We haven’t done that side of things yet, but I’m hopeful that that’s going to bear a lot of fruit for us.

George: Yeah, I focus on that, too.

Over the last few years, our church growth has been about 30% of the people that come to one of our financial classes.

They know nothing about our church since they’re not members. It’s the way we reach out to them. We’re out here not only trying to save lost souls but, also, helping the people then they begin to tell their friends.

Then, they all find out that, hey, this isn’t the church they went to 20 years ago or 30 years ago. (Because sometimes people have been hurt in the church in the past and they say that I’m not coming back.)

Then, they come back and say, “Hey, they’re here, they’re helping us, and they’re doing this for the community and in different areas.” It’s just a great way to reach out to people and also to assist them.

So again, I’d encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing in those areas, and that will help you grow. And about Christians Against Poverty, that is a great way to get involved and to continue to work together.

Also, there are a lot of resources that CSN can help with in those areas. I think that is a really good opportunity. I’d like you to tell us if somebody is in the Birmingham area or the U.K. and they wanted to learn more about you or be able to utilize some of the resources, how do they get in contact with you or how do they get more information about what you’re doing?

Paola: The website for our church is bcc.life, short and sweet.

We have details of all of our ministries on there. And you could contact me through there, but we’re also looking at putting on our website an online version of our courses. (That’s sort of in its pilot stage too.) So even if you can’t come to our venue, you can access a stewardship course online. We’re looking to develop that with maybe videos and testimonies, too.

There is a little piece on there about what we believe concerning giving and generosity and God’s heart and why we think stewardship is important, so that message is there. But we’re still very much in the infancy stage of the ministry, but we’re just looking at different models, different churches and saying I think that will work for us, let’s give that a go. Adapting it, trying it, not being scared to say, you know, that wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be, let’s try something else. So we’re just trying to see the right fit for different areas of the ministry at the moment.

George: Thank you so much, Paola. That is excellent in which you’re already doing in your church. And I look forward to our networking and doing even more in these areas and helping and growing people.

Also, if you’d like more information regarding the Christian Stewardship Network, you can go to our website at christianstewardshipnetwork.com. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

Paola: You’re welcome, thanks for having me.

George: We want to thank you, Paola, for being on our call today and we want to thank you just for all of the information and everything, that will be very valuable for our listeners.

Paola: Thank you so much, George, for inviting me. It’s been a great, great experience, thank you.

George: God bless you. I

want to thank you, listener’s, for joining us on today’s show.

Whether it’s your first podcast or you’ve listened to several, thank you, for going on the journey with us. It is our goal to equip you and empower you with the tools to be a blessing to the kingdom.

For more information about the podcast or other great resources, visit us at christianstewardshipnetwork.com.

And if this was a blessing to you, please consider making a donation to CSN, subscribe, and share us with others. Let’s do kingdom building together.

Look forward to you joining us on the next show.

*Transcript edits were made for grammatical corrections and clarification purposes. To use a portion of this transcript for publication, you must send a request in writing to info@christianstewardshipnetwork.com

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Contagious Generosity http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/contagious-generosity/ Wed, 02 Aug 2017 20:57:53 +0000 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/?p=3894 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/contagious-generosity/#respond http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/contagious-generosity/feed/ 0 <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/contagious-generosity/">Contagious Generosity</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com">Christian Stewardship Network</a>.</p>

George Thompson

In August’s episode of the CSN Podcast, our Host George B. Thompson welcomes special guest, Chris Willard. As Keynote Speaker for our CSN Forum Dallas in February, Chris presented a message titled, “Accelerating Generosity In Your Church.” In this conversation, you’ll hear George and Chris talk through biblical stewardship strategies and practical approaches to help people take their next steps in discipleship in the areas of stewardship and generosity. We hope you find this discussion helpful as you a build healthy stewardship ministry and develop new ways to connect with people in your church. If you have questions or to provide feedback on this podcast, please contact us at info@christianstewardshipnetwork.com. We would love to hear from you!

 

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Contagious Generosity: Creating A Church Culture of Stewardship and Generosity

Chris Willard

Chris Willard is a connector, consultant and communicator and is the co-author of Contagious Generosity, Creating a Culture of Giving in Church.  He has more than 30 years of ministry leadership experience and served as the executive pastor of Discovery Church in Orlando. During his tenure there, Discovery launched three multi-site venues and experienced a season of unprecedented growth.  Chris also is a member of the team of elders at Discovery. Currently, Chris serves as director of generosity initiatives for Leadership Network and as a senior generosity strategist for Generis. He has consulted with the leaders of many of the largest and most effective churches in America and Europe, helping them to accelerate growth, spiritual health and a culture of generosity, stewardship and giving. Chris and his wife Susan live in Orlando and are the parents of three young adult children.

Want to read more about this month’s episode? Here’s our transcript*:

George: Welcome to the Christian Stewardship Network. We are here to empower pastors and leaders in the local church to be the best they can be for their congregations and to be kingdom builders in the community. You can learn more about CSN by going to christianstewardshipnetwork.com. My name is George B. Thompson, your host for the Christian Stewardship Network. I serve as pastor of stewardship and finance at Faithful Central Bible Church in Los Angeles, California. It is my honor to host today’s conversation. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) We are honored to have Chris Willard with us here today. Chris is the Co-Author of “Contagious Generosity.” Welcome, Chris.

Chris: Thanks, George. It’s really good to be with you.

George: I want to ask you a question. What made you write the book “Contagious Generosity”?

Chris: That’s a great question. It started with someone inviting me to speak at a conference, a pastors’ conference. I was asked to speak on some of the things that I have been learning in working with so many churches on this topic of how do you accelerate generosity and stewardship, how do you create a culture of giving. So, I put together an outline and delivered that breakout session. Someone in the room said, “You know, that’d be a good book.” I thought, “Well, it wasn’t even really that good of a breakout session, but; maybe it could be one day.” Then, I got smart and invited my dear friend and colleague Jim Sheppard, who is the CEO of Generis, to help co-write the book with me. That’s when it turned into something that we think can be helpful to pastors. Essentially, the book “Contagious Generosity” just answers the questions: What does it take to create a culture of generosity, stewardship and giving in the church? Jim and I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of churches over the years, and we’ve learned an awful lot from them. We share this in the book.

George: I want to talk about how to make a church have contagious generosity. When I listened to your session at the Christian Stewardship Network Forum, one of the things I realized is that you have a very extensive background. You’ve worked inside of churches for over 25 years, you’re an executive pastor, have been in Orlando for quite some time, and you’re also setting up satellite churches. So, my question to you is, “How does a church get contagious about being generous? How do you start a generous church?”

Chris: Well, I would say that it starts with the church figuring out what they believe the Bible says about generosity, stewardship, and giving. Meaning a church has to identify what they want to teach, what they want to preach, and what they are going to communicate about what they think the Bible says. And I’ll tell you George, one of the fundamental questions that a church is going to need to answer is, “Are we going to teach generosity and stewardship in giving because we wanna raise money? Or are we going to teach it because we believe that stewardship is part of discipleship? That giving is part of growing, and this issue is fundamental to spiritual formation? Because that answer will dramatically change the way, a church tackles this issue. If they’re trying to raise money, they’ll do the fundraising strategies. If they’re trying to grow people, they’ll do discipleship in this area of stewardship. So I would say that’s the place they start.

George: My hands are raised right now because I’m so excited about what you just said. I think there’s been a big change in the decision are we doing fundraising or are we growing disciples? So, how do you differentiate the two and do you think fundraising works without doing discipleship?

Chris: Yeah, you know what? Fundraising works actually. If all you want to do is raise money, then you can just borrow the tactics that are used out there in the world, apply them in the church, and you’ll raise the money. But I don’t think you’ll do it in a way that helps people’s hearts be expanded and assist them to grow spiritually. So, yeah, it works. I’m not going to tell you it doesn’t work because it does, but it’s so much better for us that we use a more spiritually-minded approach to this and think about helping people take whatever their next step is in discipleship in the area of generosity and giving. That’s the approach from the churches that we like, respect, and have worked with over the years. We have seen that approach works best.

George: It appears when you work with churches that you have a very specific strategy as to how it works and how you do it. What are some of the biblical-based strategies that help grow people in areas of discipleship? How does that work when you collaborate with a church, or when you start a church, and you want them to have a culture of generosity?

Chris: Andy Stanley framed this up nicely some years ago. He said if you want to inspire generosity and stewardship in the church, I’m paraphrasing now, but essentially he told me you have to do four things. You have to preach it, you have to teach it, you have to celebrate it, and you have to model it. So, preaching is what we do on the weekend, what we do in our printed stuff, on the web, in a video. Teaching is what we do in small groups. If life change happens in circles not rows, then we have to teach generosity and stewardship in small groups. You preach it; you teach it, you celebrate it—you say thank you, you tell stories, you inspire people—and then finally, you model it. A church has to spend and share money well. The church should use the resources God entrusted to them well if they want to expect that others will be generous with the church. So that would be one way of thinking about a strategy for creating a culture of generosity.

Another way that churches do this is they think about the different audiences in the church. The various kinds of people in the church and they ask, “What are we uniquely doing to encourage and inspire and teach these different audiences?” So, George, I know you’re familiar with our friends down at Gateway Church in Dallas, their model is that they have different strategies for different kinds of individuals. So, they talk to people who are struggling financially; they talk to those who are stable, maybe they’re not. They’re one paycheck away from being in trouble, but they’re not in trouble, yet. They talk to those who are solid financially, maybe they’ve got some margin, and then finally, they have strategies for those who have a surplus. So their model, if you will, is more looking at the different kinds of people in the church. There’s a lot of ways to go at it, but you just have to take a comprehensive approach and tackle this thing strategically. Hope, George, is not a strategy. Wishing that to have a strategy.

George: How you teach, it’s almost like layering it. You want to teach it; then you have small groups. But, one of the biggest things, I think that is hidden that people don’t do as much, is celebrating. Like in testimonies. When we started using testimonies at our church, it was just great to see people celebrating because what people were saying was, “Oh my goodness, that’s Shirley. If Shirley can do it, I can do it.” We’re sharing testimonies in different ways, also. Just let me know if you agree with this, where you have people get up and share their story live. When you do a video, it’s really nice. And now with an iPhone or another device, you can just shoot a video now very easily. Even shooting video at events and things that you’re doing. Then, being able to edit them. That’s been very helpful.

Chris: Yeah. The power of story is incredible. When you can have someone in your congregation say something like, “Listen, we were afraid to give. We didn’t have enough money. We were struggling every month. Then, we sensed the Lord wanted us to step out in faith and so, we started to go for it, and the Lord met us there. And it’s been a great journey, and we really have seen the Lord.” You know, those stories are inspiring to others, and you’re right, George, it causes that person who’s in the fifth row to think, “Well, that’s kind of like me. I’m like that. So maybe, Lord, maybe I could step out and maybe you’d meet me too.” So I do think that you…the way Jim and I phrased it in the book, you accelerate what you celebrate. You get more of what you make a big deal out of. So, we need to celebrate people taking steps of faith in this area of generosity and giving.

George: Right. Then your fourth area, I just wanted also to highlight because I think that you hit them, but I believe that these are huge points. The fourth is modeling. I just want to talk about the importance of modeling because in the Bible, follow me as I follow Christ is that we need to model as good behavior. So, what are some ways that you can look at and show to people opportunities for them to be able to model behaviors of stewardship and generosity?

Chris: Well, one of the very first things I would say is that the pastor needs to recognize that generous pastors lead generous churches. I have never encountered a church, which I would say is truly a generous church, which did not have generous leadership, people who were truly generous leading. Now, I have encountered generous pastors, generous church leaders whose churches were not yet generous, but; that’s normally because they weren’t teaching. preaching, modeling, and celebrating. So, here’s what I would say, first thing is a pastor needs to realize that they have to be on this journey personally of growing in their generosity and telling that story to others. Then, I would say in this area of modeling, you know, how a church spends the money that it already has is a powerful message to the congregation. I worked with a church, a large multi-site Church, and I asked one of the leading donors, a young woman, in the church a question. I said, “what prevents you from giving more than you do in your church right now?” Her answer stunned me. She said, “I feel like if I give more money here at our church, they’ll just buy more flat-screen TVs and technology.” So, you see, what she was observing was, “Man, they spend a lot of money on technology around here.” Now, I knew the church leadership had a good reason for why they were spending money on technology, but they had not communicated that to her in a way that made sense. It looked to her like bad stewardship, and it was actually causing her not to be enthusiastic about giving.

George: This goes back to number three, which is celebrating. Maybe saying like, “We use these screens to interact with the younger generation. Those aren’t just flat-screen TVs; those are ministry tools.” Like she didn’t see it that way. It goes back to how they’re celebrating or how the messaging is going out in those areas. That’s great.

Chris: I, also, think that you’ve got a church in this whole area of modeling has to be really careful in thinking about how dollars leave the four walls of our church? Meaning, is our church also being generous in the kingdom? Because if everything is about building our church, building our ministry, making our stuff better, that also can be kind of demotivating to givers who are thinking about where they could give.

George: That’s why you always talk about the kingdom. But, you, also, speak of the city, your city. Like in Inglewood, California, one of the things we do is to always talk about the city, not necessarily our church. You know, we read about this happening in the Bible, in Judea, Samaria and the other areas. Speaking messages in this way would also be helpful.

Chris: Absolutely. You just got to let people know what it is that you’re doing and let them know that the dollars that they’re giving in your church are actually being freed up and sent out to do some good in the community and that motivates them to give more.

George: As I was listening to you, I heard you talk a lot about accelerating generosity in a church. I used to play sports and played collegiately and on the US team while in high school. One of the things we always had is a DNA of a team. You know, like you guys are either winning and you always have a culture. Everybody has a culture. I’ve noticed the churches have the same thing. So, how does somebody accelerate generosity in the DNA in their church? What are some things they could do to get their church to be more generous?

Chris: Well, again, I would say it’s about having that comprehensive strategy. That is preaching and teaching and modeling and celebrating. That is going to help to bubble up and create movement in the culture.

George: Got you.

Chris: I would also say that one of the things that we need to do is what Jim and I in the book called “The Ministry of Asking.” If you want to accelerate generosity in your church, you have to invite people to give, and you have to challenge them to step out in faith. It’s been said that people don’t give to need, they give to the vision, which is kind-of silly frankly. Well, if there’s a hurricane or a tornado, people love to give to need. They, also, love to give to vision, but the other thing they like to give to is expectation. So you have to invite people to give, you have to expect that people who are going to share, you know, you have to normalize that around here, we’re a generous church. God gave first, so we give, too. You’ve got to expect that from people, and I think that can really impact the church.

George: Right. You talked about casting the vision. That’s very important. But, another area you spoke about during the Forum was that the church needs to build trust. Create a culture where everyone trusts and understands why they’re giving, and then we cast the vision. Also, I would like to talk to you about relationships. As far as the relationships that people have within the church, such as the leaders of the members of the church in different areas, what is a way, having the DNA of very good churches, what role do these relationships play?

Chris: Well, it’s huge, right? Because it’s all about people and it’s all about connecting with them. Pastors love to get givers to give to their vision. I’ll tell you what the wise pastor (especially, when he’s working with a high capacity giver, somebody that God has blessed with wealth), is not just asking that giver to give to the church’s vision. He’s trying to figure out, “what is the vision that God has given you?” What do you think God wants you, as a giver, as an individual, to do with the resources that he’s entrusted to you? Because, as your pastor, I want to help you make those dreams come true. That takes relationship, that takes conversations, that just doesn’t happen on its’ own. It’s not just standing in front of a group and saying here’s the plan, help me pay for it. It’s about really working with people and getting in their life. This illustrates the broader principle that in the church, with regard to generosity and stewardship in giving, we have to talk to different kinds of givers differently. You got to have a different kind of conversation with the person that God has blessed with wealth in your church, for example, then you will have with the individual who attends your church but doesn’t give it all.

George: Right. And Chris I don’t mean to interrupt you, but what you’re saying is so critical to…if you remember everyone, we’re always taught as pastors of stewardship to divide the people up, you know, and we have the categories. Members are struggling and sinking, steady, solid means they’re doing pretty good, surplus, service. But this is the problem; we always tend to tilt toward the people that are struggling and sinking because they scream the loudest. We’re focusing on that struggling, sinking, and steady, and then some of the solid. Because one of the mistakes that a lot of ministries make, that we even made in the very beginning was, if you just focus in on that area then people think, “I only come to stewardship if I have a problem as opposed to the other areas.” Then the people that are the top givers, we just send them a letter, and that’s it. Once a year and in doing that. I guess my question is, “how are the churches supposed to engage with people who are doing well financially and just some strategies to be able to do that”

Chris: I think you’re exactly right, George, you could argue that the most overlooked group of people in a church are the people that God has blessed with wealth. And that sounds funny, but it’s really true because most churches have specific ministries for people who are struggling financially. They have budget counseling, they have benevolence programs. What strategy does the typical church have to encourage and disciple and equip the person that God has blessed with wealth to really see what it is that God wants them to do with those dollars? So, I would say one of the most important things you can do in that area is to recognize that it’s valuable to put the people that God has blessed financially in your congregation, bring them in a relationship with one another so that they can encourage and inspire and help one another. It’s very difficult. As you said, the reason why people that have money are blessed with wealth don’t go to any stewardship meetings is because they can’t share what’s really going on. The lady next to them, the lady sitting next to them is thinking about canceling her cable because she can’t pay her rent and the person that God has blessed with wealth is trying to decide if he should sell his plane. You know, and he can’t have that conversation with her, but he can have it with another person in the congregation who also understands those issues.

George: Right. And we started that a few years ago. Having the people meet and one thing we found out is that, actually, the people that are up in the surplus and the service level, they have a lot of issues and concerns. too. One of their problems is time. I mean like they want to spend more time. They run a business, it’s doing extremely well, but they’re working six days a week, 12 hours a day. By meeting, they can talk to another person, and then while they’re talking they find out, “Hey, I see how you manage your kids.” They start to do things differently or hire another person or just learn differently about things that will help them and just have a Bible study where they can find that also in God’s Word. So I’ve seen that a lot.

Chris: Yeah, and I would say too, the lead pastor is very instrumental in this because in many churches the lead pastor is leading a complicated enterprise. He’s the guy doing hiring and firing and budgeting and risk management and forecasting. All of those are the similar kinds of things that the business owners or the business leaders in your church are doing. So that lead pastor needs to realize he has something to offer that group of people, not to mention what he has to offer from a pastor point of view in terms of his expertise with regard to understanding the Scriptures and being able to really help people navigate some of those personal issues as well.

George: Great. You know when you were an executive pastor, how did you teach stewardship to the church? That’s my first part of the question. The second one is regarding multi-site. How’d you get that all broken apart to where you could go out to a site and get the same thing that you are getting at the main campus? So, the first question is how did you teach stewardship and how did you get it out to the people on a consistent basis based on the four things you said earlier?

Chris: Yeah. Well, we use that strategy. We preached and taught and celebrated and modeled. One of the things that we made an effort to do well was the moments during the service when you receive the offering. We worked at, and continue to work at this to this day in our church; we worked at making sure that we were highly leveraging those few moments. I mean it’s really crazy to think of how often in churches that offering time is just kind of “blah blah blah.” Now is the time of the service when we’re going to give back to the Lord a portion of the blah blah blah. It sounds the same this week as it did last week and it’s probably going to sound the same next week. We need to do a better job than that. So, one of the most important strategies that a church can do is make sure that they’re highly leveraging those few moments during the service.

George: Right. And leveraging means, so I’m translating, just as someone that’s listening that’s a volunteer, someone may be a stewardship pastor that just started or working with the churches. When we say leveraging, so I’m just translating then you let me know if that’s what you’re saying is that. That time to make sure during that time period that you have something new, something different, but then you’re also engaging people on different levels. Meaning that you’re you’re sharing a scripture with them, but then also you may be telling a story one time, or you may be celebrating a person. Or doing it in different ways, but actually, have a game plan and have it set up, so you’re able to do that.

Chris: Exactly, George. Because most mean I think many of us would have to admit that when we’re leading in this church service, we think about what we’re going to say for the offering time as our feet are moving to the microphone and that’s not good enough.

George: Oh, no.

Chris: We got to really plan that thing out and know what you’re doing. Now, with regard to multi-site, I think one of the most important issues we need to address is we need to realize the campus pastor, the lead person on that campus, has to carry this message of generosity and stewardship and giving. Because for many people, that’s the person who is viewed as that’s my pastor. I mean that’s the guy I’ll call in the middle of the night if there’s a problem, that’s the guy who’s praying for me and knows my story. As church leaders, when we identify and select campus pastors for these roles, we’re not just looking for someone who’s a good organizer or somebody who’s a good shepherd. We need a leader who is committed to this generosity and stewardship message, too. We know that generous leaders lead generous churches. The campus pastor’s influence is going to be significant.

George: That’s great. Good. Hey, could you just tell me a little bit about Generis, your role and what they will be doing in the future?

Chris: Yeah, sure. So, Generis is a company that’s committed to helping churches accelerate generosity and stewardship and giving and create cultures in the church that support those things. We work with churches around the country. Many of the churches we’re working with want to do some sort of giving campaign or capital campaign or accelerated giving initiative. And so, we’ll help them put together a strategy that really makes that special for the church and doesn’t just raise money, but as we were saying earlier, really does help grow people spiritually and helps to change the culture of the church. And so, that’s the work that we do at Generis, and I’ve had a ball working with some just amazing churches around the country over the past several years. And then of course, as you know, George, I also serve as the director of Generosity Initiatives for Leadership Network. And in that context, I helped put together cohorts groups of churches that really want to tackle this generosity stewardship issue, and together we tackle those things, and it’s been a great experience as well.

George: Yeah, I get so excited when I listen to you speak because I want people to be generous because we just love giving, and then we receive so much, but I just love giving. And it is not just about giving. It’s in just being content, too. I want to thank you for taking the time today to just come by and let us talk to you a little bit about generosity. And, also, your book “Contagious Generosity,” it’s on Amazon. It’s an excellent book, and I’d like to call you back someday and check-in with a couple of areas that we have about having a culture of generosity and helping people, not only throughout the United States but the world in the area generosity.

Chris: It’s been my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

George: Good. It’s been a pleasure. To our audience, once again, you can go online for more information about Chris Willard’s book, “Contagious Generosity”. Also, you can find everything we’re doing at the Christian Stewardship Network by going to christianstewardshipnetwork.com. Visit us online to receive a free e-book through our ministry partner, Generis. We want to give you practical help to grow and do Kingdom business. Thank you so much and good talking to you, Chris.

Chris: Take care.

George: I want to thank you for joining us on today’s episode. Whether this is your first podcast or you’ve experienced several with us, thank you for going on the journey with us today. It is our goal to equip you and empower you with the tools to be a blessing to the kingdom. For more information about podcasts or other great resources, visit us at christianstewardshipnetwork.com. And if this was a blessing to you, please subscribe to us on iTunes or Google Play and share us with others. Let’s do Kingdom building together. Look forward to you joining us for the next episode of the CSN Podcast.

*Transcript edits were made for grammatical corrections and clarification purposes. To use a portion of this transcript for publication, you must send a request in writing to info@christianstewardshipnetwork.com

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CSN Podcast Host Announcement: A New Season http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/csn-podcast-host-announcement-new-season/ Tue, 16 May 2017 12:01:51 +0000 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/?p=3609 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/csn-podcast-host-announcement-new-season/#respond http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/csn-podcast-host-announcement-new-season/feed/ 0 <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/csn-podcast-host-announcement-new-season/">CSN Podcast Host Announcement: A New Season</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com">Christian Stewardship Network</a>.</p>

future of stewardshipA CSN Podcast Host Announcement

In May’s episode of the CSN Podcast, our host, Derek Sisterhen, announces his new role in ministry at Hope Community Church and passes the baton (or microphone I should say) to our NEW CSN Podcast host, George B. Thompson.  George is the Pastor of Stewardship at Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, California. He has been a member of CSN for many years.

CSN Podcast Host: A New Season

George B. Thompson is a devoted father of twin boys and a daughter, a husband, and a Pastor of Stewardship at Faithful Central Bible Church. He is, also, a nationally recognized financial expert and motivational speaker. George has written several books, including Millionaires In Training: The Wealth Builder, Set-4-Life: The Diary of a Champion, and he coauthored The Total Package: The Keys to Acquiring Wealth and Walking in Divine Health. His most recent books are part of a series called Ready, Set, Grow, where he has taken over 20 years of teaching and living out these life stewardship principles and turned them into easily digestible lessons for anybody to consume.  You can follow George at facebook.com/george.thompson.

Subscribe to the CSN Podcast on iTunes or Google​

Follow the Christian Stewardship Network on Twitter at @CStewardshipNetwork or on facebook.com/ChristianStewardshipNetwork.

Want to read more about this month’s episode? Here is an excerpt from the transcript:

Derek: My name is Derek Sisterhen, your host for today’s conversation. I also serve as the Director of Finance and Stewardship at Hope Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. On today’s podcast, I’m joined by George Thompson, Pastor of Stewardship at Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, California. George is becoming a bit of a regular around here. George, how are you doing today?

George: I’m doing awesome.

Derek: Thanks for joining. So, today, we’re talking a little bit about me. Isn’t that fun? Start off the podcast with “Yeah, we’re gonna talk about me today”? How about that, everybody? We’re talking about me. We’re talking a little bit about a transition that I am making within my church, here at Hope Community Church. I’m shifting away from my full-time focus on just the financial and stewardship aspects of ministry at Hope. I’ll be bringing some attention to the broader church stewardship, as in the leadership of the church stewarding its resources well and being an example to the congregation, one that the congregation can count on and look to as a model of how biblical stewardship should look.

Today, I’ll share a little bit about my journey. Then, George may have some questions for me. Ultimately, George is going to be taking over the responsibility of hosting The CSN Podcast. So, this conversation is the passing of the torch or the baton. That’s what’s happening here.

God has had me on a pretty interesting journey prior to and then since I’ve started working at Hope. Before I ever started working in the church world, I worked in banking. I worked in risk management. I worked in project management. From there, I transitioned into a small business that did financial consulting. Out of that, I ended up doing speaking and teaching. I wrote a book. I became a radio show and podcast host. (An old radio show and an old podcast—before I hosted the CSN Podcast). All of this had come before I worked in the church world.

I started to wonder; this is a wide variety of things. I feel like I’ve been at the buffet of things to do. Some of these things I never would’ve imagined that I’d do. I never would’ve imagined that someone would’ve put me on the radio. And then it happened. And then I never would’ve imagined that I would’ve written a book. And then it happened. And I never would’ve imagined that I would’ve walked away from a career in banking.

So, I started to wonder what the point of all these different experiences is? Next, I wound up at Hope Community Church. I began serving as the stewardship ministry director formalizing a ministry that had been run by a band of brothers and sisters that were sort of fledgling, kind of under the radar. We were not very organized. Then, in the fall of 2010, I started to provide some leadership, galvanized that, and we’ve been able to minister to a lot of needs of our congregation and our community as a result.

Over the course of the last few years, though, I’d taken on responsibility as overseeing our finance and accounting area while also managing the stewardship ministry. In the last two years, Hope has come through an extensive capital campaign season where we built a brand new campus that is also a community center. It has been an incredible project. One that challenged us and stretched us in many ways. At the end of this past year, I was asked to join our executive team to continue oversight of our finance and accounting teams, human resources, facilities, and information technology. So as a result, I’m shifting away from the role that I’ve occupied for the past six years, which has direct ties to the stewardship ministry. I’ll continue to teach in the ministry, but I won’t be as directly linked to it.

And so here I am handing over the reins to George. That’s been the catalyst. That’s why you’re here, man.

George: First of all, thank you for just giving us a little bit of a background. I did not know you worked in banking. You worked in banking before you got here and also financial consulting. What happened during that process to where you got to be on staff, working at Hope from there? There had to be a little something going on. Like, where you were meeting with people and finding out it’s just not all about the numbers? Or what did happened? How did you get from working in banking to working at Hope?

Derek: The short story is that I was convinced that I was going to make the corporate climb in banking. Right when I left college, I was like, “That’s what I’m gonna go do. I’m gonna be a lifer. I’m gonna climb the ladder.” I was very fortunate. In the course of a short period, I started working in a role where I was interacting with some people that were several steps above me in the food chain. The more I got to know about them and what they were doing, the more I was like “This is not the life for me.”

George: And earnings for the company and building up the company and not building up people. Go ahead.

Derek: That’s right, yeah. I was like “I feel like I have a glimpse into the future here, and it does not look like a future that I want.” God was really starting to move in my heart to have more compassion for people around personal finance. So, I left there and joined one other guy who had started this firm working with families and small businesses on improving how they handle their money. The more I got to know the people that became my clients, the more I realized I was dealing with emotional issues and relational issues and spiritual issues, not numbers on a page. I wish it were that simple. But, there were people behind those numbers. The more I got to serve them, the more I realized this is all about the heart and how people view themselves in relationship to God.

I got more involved in serving at Hope. Then, one day. I asked the question, “Doesn’t the church need to get some sort of group together, some person that can lead or spearhead charge on this particular area of discipleship?” And, of course, God’s timing is always perfect. Little did I know that, at that exact same time, the senior leadership of our church had just come back from a conference where they had heard from people at Gateway about how critical it is to have a stewardship ministry. So, I heard through the grapevine that they were thinking of starting one. I told them, “This is gonna sound crazy, but I might be your guy.” I’ve never done anything like that in my life, put myself out there, but that’s how I got to Hope.

George: You said, “I’ve never done anything like that” in your life. But, other people actually come into this type of ministry, and we hear quite often that they worked in corporate America, then ministry began out of their heart for people. Or they make a statement, similar to what you just said, “You know, I saw how people were out there, but I didn’t know how I could just deal their finances,” because you have to deal with them as a whole person—their time, their talent, and their treasures. So, did that have a big role in how you implemented classes or how you taught when you were at Hope?

Derek: Absolutely. Part of my experience in banking that really helped a lot is was the experiences were I worked in the collections area. I did some special projects in collections.

George: You were all the way in. You were all the way in.

Derek: I was all the way…I was down there.

George: You were collecting money and talking to people and with the higher-ups. You did see it.

Derek: I saw it all, yeah.

George: You just had to come down the altar after that.

Derek: That’s right. Oh man. Yeah, so there I was figuring out the ins and outs of, you know when people get into a financially stressed position, how does that actually work on the bank’s side?  A lot of times, in our classes, we’ll talk to people who…maybe they got a bill that’s gone past due, or they’ve got an account that’s in collections. They’ll start to get stressed and wonder, “What do I do? What do I do?” Well, I’ve been able to train our entire stewardship team, our financial coaching team, to say, “Here’s what actually happens. Here’s the legal stuff. Here’s the timeline the bank’s gonna run on. And if they’re telling you this, they really mean that.” And, you know, we’ve been able to bolster the equipping of our team based off of all that experience that I didn’t think would ever play into it. I mean, it turned out that God had a plan with all that experience for me.

George: Right. And what I want the listeners to understand is that in your process in going through; God prepares you from the day you were born until the time that you’re doing that. So you said, “I don’t have any experience,” but, actually, you had your whole life experiences. God puts you in a position so that you’re able to learn how something works so that you’re able to help others.

I have one more question I want to ask you. What are you doing new and going to do in your new position? A lot of times, as a pastor at stewardship, I feel like we’re picking a lock. I feel like if someone is…they’re chained and they’re spinning around in a circle, and it’s just getting tighter and tighter and tighter. And then they come to us at different times. Unfortunately, some people come when they’re so tight. They cannot move. And we’re the ones who are picking the lock. And then there’s just that chain around them. So we can loosen that chain and so that they can walk and be free.

And I wanted to thank you for all the people that you’ve helped, not only in North Carolina, but just all over the country, and as this podcast has gone all over the world and been helping and touching people, just the impact that you have in doing that. And I’m glad that you were able to be able to do that for so long. And then so how did you start doing the podcast?

Derek: Well, it turned out that…I guess I said something to someone about how I had done a radio show and podcast in some of my prior…

George: That’s famous last words, “I said something to somebody.”

Derek: Yeah. And it sounded like sweet music to their ears, and they said, “Well, we should do a podcast.” Well, CSN, Christian Stewardship Network, years ago used to do, effectively, a large conference call with people, because back at the time, you know, we knew of maybe 30, 40, 50 stewardship leaders around the country. So you could just do a call and have people sign on and listen to something, and that would be it. But as time has gone on and as churches have really embraced launching stewardship ministries within their overall ministry, you know, activity, it’s like these stewardship leaders are all over the place. And it may not be someone that actually is on the church staff, but it could be someone serving as a volunteer leader.

So, we made the decision a couple a years ago with CSN, because at the time, I was also serving on the board, “Hey, we’ve got an opportunity to reach way more people if we put this in a nice podcast version where we’ve got 20 to 25 minutes with someone who’s an expert or who has maybe a great story of success or even a great story of failure and lessons learned that they could share and get that out to stewardship leaders across the country.” So, fortunately, I was drawing a little bit from some prior experience of doing a radio show and doing a different podcast. But it really, I think, has been a great resource to leverage through the Christian Stewardship Network.

George: Wow! That is great. And that has just been a blessing. Those are big shoes to fill. But, hey, can you talk about how your transition has started, and then just kind of how the different things we can expect from you in the future?

Derek: Yeah. There are a lot of expectations of me in the future. Sure, I’ll tell you about some of them. So, as I mentioned at the top of the show, Hope has just concluded a two-year capital campaign. We called it, “Unleashed, the Power of a Changed Life.” We focused for two years on not only funding all of our normal ministry areas and operations as well as our outreach to the local and international partners that we have but also expanding some of our international outreach and expanding our local ministry efforts by building a permanent location for one of our other campuses.

But we made a big decision, and that was not just to build a church building, but to build a community center that the church meets in. We really wanted that project to be a blessing, to be an asset to the community that it’s a part of. We built it in Apex, North Carolina, which is an incredibly family-rich area. There are so many families with kids there. We thought, “You’ve got an opportunity right out of the gate to impact two generations, to impact the parents and to impact their children.” We set about that project a little over two years ago and just opened that facility right before Christmas 2016.

And, now, on the other side of that, my role is shifting to where we’re trying to say, “What does it look like for Hope Community Church in the future?” We’re a multi-site church. We reach a lot of people. But what does it look like to really be a partner with churches across the Triangle area, which is Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill? What does it look like to bolster the faith community here, to be a resource, not just for the people that come through our doors, but to be a resource to other churches? And so, as we start to look forward into the future, one of the things that have come to bear is the need to add some new leadership at our executive level. So, I and a couple of other folks were invited to come in and take on some of the challenges and opportunities that await us to make sure that we are executing as best we can on our mission of loving people where they are and encouraging them to grow in their relationship with Jesus so that we continue to be that blessing to the community.

George: Wow. It is great just to hear about and watch all of that progress, and not only just in watching you, but just watching what God is doing just in your whole area and at your church as well. The vision that your senior pastor has in doing everything for the community, because, see, that’s kingdom-building. I’m gonna also give you all the website at gethope.net. I was just looking at all your different locations and how you are spreading the gospel. Just how you guys have planned this and how it’s going, that’s great.

Hey, just two other questions for you. And I just wanna let you know; you have two minutes for each.

Derek: Thank you.

George: In your time doing the podcast and being the host, what has been your vision for that? Or how did you see this starting and changing as the process went?

Derek: That’s a good question. You know, I think, like any good ideas, sometimes you just don’t know until you get out there. And so, with the podcast, I think what we saw it as or what I saw it as was we’ve gotta have an opportunity to continue the discussion out of the CSN Forum. You know, the CSN Forum happens once a year. You have this chance to come and just get bathed in experience from other stewardship leaders. You get bathed in wisdom. You get to share some of your wins, some of your failures. And you come out of there, and you feel like, “Oh, man, I have been totally rejuvenated.”

And then a month goes by, and you’re back at your church, and you got deadlines to meet, and you got classes that you’re trying to fill, and you got stuff you gotta do. And all of a sudden, the Forum is, you know, that was back then, back in Texas. And I think that the podcast really started off as a great way to continue the conversation. A lot of the people that had been a part of the podcast as guests, they’ve been people that have attended the Forum. And so, hey, we’ll take a subject matter from the Forum, and we’ll say, “Let’s unpack that for 20 or 25 more minutes on a podcast.” It just gives us a chance to continue that connection between stewardship leaders throughout the year.

As far as a vision for the future, I would say that what we would want…what I would hope would happen is that this resource grows as a go-to point of contact for stewardship leaders, whether they’re just getting started or whether they’ve been at it for a long time. And they can pop this on, and they can say, “I’m gonna get something of value that I can use.” Whatever the time may be, they may listen to a podcast three years from now. They may listen to this three years from now, and they may just say, “Hey, that was encouraging.” So I think that’s what the vision is, how can this be a meaningful resource to the people that are on the ground doing stewardship ministry?

George: Right. And one of the things that I think is very important, and that’s one of the reasons why, but getting involved was just listening and finding out how to keep things going. You used a great illustration at the very beginning. I’ve gone to the conference for ten years. And every time that I go, I always say, “This is great information. This is great information. This is great information.” And then how you would during the year be able to keep cheering us higher and higher by saying, “Good, now, we can break this out,” and break things into practical applications that we can have in our lives and do.

My last question for you is quite simple. It is what are some good nuggets or different things that you have learned over the years or over the time of doing stewardship ministry that you would like someone to know that is just getting started in stewardship ministry?

Derek: I guess a couple of things. One is, just like we would say in a class that we’re gonna teach that God owns all of our stuff, it’s all God’s money, it’s all God’s stuff, this is also God’s ministry. This is not our ministry. We are stewards of the stewardship ministry. If we ever take an attitude of ownership or if we think too highly of ourselves that we’re the driver behind this thing, that’s where you start to get way off track. That’s one of the things that I’ve learned is that it’s gotta be God’s ministry. And I just get the privilege of partnering with him in doing it in my local church.

The next thing that I would say is that in the stewardship world, in the stewardship ministry world, it’s easy to have that one person that’s the champion. They’re on staff, or maybe they’re a key volunteer that’s the champion. You cannot do this alone. You cannot do this alone. As soon as you think that you can do it alone, you have just put a cap on the ministry, and you will not be able to reach or serve the people that God wants to bring your way. So, by all means, you must engage other people who have a passion for this and get them alongside you. You will multiply your energy. And it will be a beautiful, beautiful thing for the kingdom.

And then the third thing that I would say is that this is a…and you have shared this before, George. Stewardship is not a department. It’s a way that we do things. It is an element of our culture. And so for a stewardship leader, you have the opportunity to engage ministries all across the church in something that must infuse its way into every aspect of a Christ follower, a disciple’s life. This is a part of who we are if we say that we’re Christians is we are stewards. So it should show up. And you have the ability to engage other ministries. It should show up in those.

So those are the three things I would say. It’s God’s ministry, don’t do this alone, and see yourself as a resource to all of the other ministries in your church.

George: Good. Hey, I just wanted to give you a standing ovation for your work with CSN, as the CSN Podcast Host and everything that you have done. It has been an honor. You have blessed so many people. And I, along with all of the other people that are involved with stewardship and ministers, pastors, everyone, just wanna say thank you so much for all that you’ve done and your commitment to excellence and thank you.

Derek: Well, thank you, George. I appreciate you taking the time to do this little kind of reverse interview with me. Thank you for being a part of the podcast. I thank you, also, for taking on the baton of this CSN podcast, because, as we just talked about, there is so much potential for making this resource available, so thank you.

George: My pleasure.

Derek: All right. Well, I am just so grateful to all of our listeners who’ve tuned in and who’ve allowed me to serve as a host in this capacity. I may not be around as much, but I’ll still be around, so don’t forget that. For all the great content that CSN produces, the podcast, and now, of course, with George at the helm, and info on the next CSN forum, and so much more, you can visit christianstewardshipnetwork.com. Until next time, whenever that time may be, here’s to leading and serving well for God’s glory and your joy. Thank you so much for being with us.

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How One Church Used A 21-Day Financial Fast To Grow In Contentment, Joy, & Peace http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/21-day-financial-fast-grow-contentment/ Thu, 30 Mar 2017 16:09:17 +0000 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/?p=3503 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/21-day-financial-fast-grow-contentment/#respond http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/21-day-financial-fast-grow-contentment/feed/ 0 <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/21-day-financial-fast-grow-contentment/">How One Church Used A 21-Day Financial Fast To Grow In Contentment, Joy, & Peace</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com">Christian Stewardship Network</a>.</p>

A Churchwide Financial Fast

How One Church Used A 21-Day Financial Fast To Grow In Contentment, Joy, & Peace

future of stewardshipA Churchwide Financial Fast

In this month’s episode of the CSN Podcast, our host, Derek Sisterhen, interviews George Thompson, Pastor of Stewardship and Finance at Faithful Central Bible Church in a discussion about, “How One Church Used A 21-Day Financial Fast To Grow Contentment, Joy & Peace.”

A Churchwide Financial Fast: How One Church Used A 21-Day Financial Fast To Grow Contentment, Joy & Peace

George Thompson is the Pastor of Stewardship and Finance at Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, California, as well as a devoted husband and father of two twin boys and a daughter. George has written several books including Millionaires In Training: The Wealth Builder, Set-4-Life: The Diary of a Champion, and coauthored The Total Package: The Keys to Acquiring Wealth and Walking in Divine Health. His most recent books are part of a series called Ready, Set, Grow where he has taken over 20 years of teaching and living out these life stewardship principles and turned them into easily digestible lessons for anybody to consume.

What to read more about this month’s episode? Here is an excerpt from the transcript of this episode’s conversation. 

Derek: Today we are going to talk about the 21 Day Financial Fast that you have led at Faithful Central. For our listeners, they can check out some of the details on the financial fast by going to FaithfulCentral.com/FinancialFast. So, George, as ministry leaders interested in seeing our people grow in their relationship with Jesus, we recognize how important spiritual disciplines are, reading Scripture, prayer. Usually, when we think about fasting, we think of not eating or taking the time to seek God through prayer. But you launched a financial fast. So, I want to hear what exactly is a financial fast and what started you down this road at Faithful Central?

George: That is a great question, Derek. First of all, about two years ago, Bishop Ulmer had come to me and said, “Hey, we want to do a fast a little bit different this year.” Because we had been fasting and doing the Daniel Fast for, I’ve been to the church 11 years, the entire time. We’ve always done the Daniel Fast. That was no meat, no sweets, and no alcohol. We found out that, hey, a lot of people don’t drink anyway or sometimes some people were…some people also wanted to just…they didn’t eat meat anyway, or they’re a vegetarian…or I don’t know, in California people try to eat healthy I guess. So they found out that they weren’t really doing all the elements of it. So one of the things he wanted to do, he said, “We want to do something in the area of finance and do a Financial Fast.” And he asked me to kind of make one up.

I’ve written about five in the area of finances. Bishop Ulmer has written two in the area of finance. So, between the both of us, I sat down and wrote down 21 principles that would just be good for someone to do with their finances. And then we would just walk through every day being a very special day in teaching them a financial principle and then go through it. Secondly, as you said, but you know, usually we’re used to using Scriptures or learning is a part of the financial fast. So that’s why we had built the financial fast. So, there are just different elements that I like to go over with you of the fast. But one of them is using the Bible. Meaning that we use SOAP which is, you know, that’s a way of studying the Bible by this method—the S stands for Scripture, the O stands for observation, the A stands for application, and the P stands for prayer.

So we used that during that period, but we also focused on…some of these Scriptures that we’re focusing on are…are financial Scriptures or also just teaching people about possession. Because as you know, most of the Scriptures in the Bible deal with about how people deal with what they have. And that’s stewardship.

Derek: This is great. I’m fascinated already because I didn’t realize that you had written so many books. So for all of our listeners, you have to go check out what George has put together in your little library, I suppose. So you’ve got these 21 principles, and we’re turning people towards scripture. We’re, also, I’m sure as we’re gonna talk a little bit more, you’re bringing in some practical application with this. Tell me, just ground level, if I’m someone who says, “Yes, I raised my hand. I’m signing up for the 21-Day Financial Fast, how does it work?”

George: That’s a great question. Because that’s what people have. That’s the first question Bishop Ulmer asked me. First of all, we have a text number because, you know, I want to be able to encourage millennials. I want to be able to encourage if you’re 8 to 108. So we have a text message that comes out every day, and that has a Scripture, you know like it has a scripture for every day what the scripture is and also what we’re studying for that day. So there’s always a scripture and while we’re actually online, I’m gonna look up, you know, our scripture that was actually for today in going through it.

So it was Proverbs 22:7. It talked about indebted slavery and then making somebody else rich by the sweat of your own brow. So then what we do is we teach every day to get out of the demons of debt. You already know debt is spelled D-E-B-T. So that’s doing everything but tithing. So we want to make sure that everybody knows that they don’t want to be not only caught up in that but just learning the techniques of that. But now your first question was…is though is that how does someone get started? So it’s either by email, they go to our website, they actually download the papers. And what we do is we just give you information about every day what you would do.

And so first of all, the basic elements are this is that we start moving from using…to just having a journal where they write down what they’re spending money on and that they kind of know that. And then also, a big principle is that we stop using credit cards. We even stop using debit cards. Then we go strictly to cash. So we start having people doing that. And then, by the way, we live in Los Angeles, so this is anywhere. We also understand that in 21 days you have to use a debit card or a credit card because I was doing the financial fast, and I took my kids to the dentist. And then when I pulled out of the parking lot, there was no attendant…there was no way of getting out of the parking lot without using a debit card. I understand that there are a couple of instances we have to do that if you travel. So just the first one is that we move to cash. You have a journal; you write things down. And then also, you only buy what you need, not what you want.

Three categories, as you know, from teaching. First one is, there’s a need, a want, and a wish. We only buy what we need. We find out when you go to use cash; you only buy what you need. You don’t buy all that extra stuff. As you know, as you know, what it says in Philippians is that “My God shall supply all of my needs.” It doesn’t say greeds. It doesn’t say wishes. It says needs, and it says all of mine. Then people do that, and then we start going through a transformation of renewing people’s minds by understanding, by putting the focus on God and not on material possessions.

So there are different days. Like one day we learned to be content. Just put the fork down, like you’re just learning that. And actually, the word fast, F-A-S-T, is what we put up on Sunday, and I go through this when we discuss the offering. And then before I do an announcement that fast, the F, the F stands for focus. And we have a goal we have to focus on what we’re doing. And the A stands to take action. I’m going to take action on what you’re doing. And the S is for sacrifice. That was the problem. That’s what the real focus is of a fast is that people have to sacrifice. And then the T is for trust. You’ve gotta trust God. Because you don’t know how you’re gonna do it, but that’s how you’re gonna do it. You know, after you sacrifice, you’re believing God, He’s gonna deliver what you and I are trusting God for. Amen.

Derek: Amen. I hear ya. That’s fantastic. You know, it’s funny. You made a comment in there that reminded me of something that a participant in one of our classes said here one time. She and her husband had just finished our financial coaching program, and she was saying, “We started to learn that just because we can afford it doesn’t mean we should have it.”

And that is, I think, that sounds like something that if everybody in kind of middle income America could get their arms…really, any income level but particularly people who have some disposable income but they think they’ve always gotta spend right up to what they’ve got.

Just because you can afford it doesn’t mean you should have it because even the items, even the things themselves if we can separate from just accumulating and acquiring and consuming. We start to see the world in a new way.

George: And that’s one, being content. I’ll pick which side, first, I want the women to be mad at me first. The women will be mad at me but a lot of times but I will say, we keep buying stuff that we don’t actually need. Women going out there and buying this and buying that and doing this and just like, hey, do we need another pair of … That’s why I ask, do we need another pair of shoes, ladies? And they say they need to go to the closets and they’re full of them. Now, now that I’ve made them mad, now on to the men.

Do we have to get the 2017 version of everything? First of all, you got a television, right? Then, you got the high def. Now, you gotta get … Then you go in Costco, and oh no, you gotta get the one that’s curved. You know what I mean? Like, the TV you have is fine. You know, the 50 inch is fine. You don’t have to get the 55 and then now what is it? The 65 and the 70 and the different areas. So that’s the different areas. Just learn to be content and thank God for what you already have. If you actually want to be successful in life, you should be focusing on what you do have, not what you don’t have. And be content.

Derek: That’ll preach. You’ve got Josh, behind the scenes at the sound board, nodding his head. So what’s really interesting about this story about how this financial fast came to life is that you had this incredible partnership out of the gate with your senior pastor. I think for anybody that’s listening to the CSN podcast, if you’re a stewardship leader in a local church, you know your senior pastor, your lead pastor, they are busy, busy people. And it can be difficult sometimes just to even get a little bit of the face time to even talk about a new ministry effort, a new project, a new initiative. But you know that if you can get the senior pastor, the senior leader at your church behind it, that effort is likely to draw the congregation up behind it. So you already had the benefit of this, this tightly woven I guess, kind of, alignment with your senior pastor. What do you, what do you say to somebody who’s like, “Hey, I’m a stewardship leader. I want to go, and I want to get my ministry effort moving here. How do I go and engage my senior pastor, my senior leadership, to get buy-in to launch this thing?”

George: I’m going to answer your question very quickly. But I would like to actually one day do an entire podcast on this topic. Because the secret, not secret but how you do this is you develop a culture of stewardship at your church. Trying to get an idea to somebody once every few years or preaching, preaching on finance once a year, that’s…I don’t know if that’s completely successful. So what you want to do is, is that you want to have a plan. As you know, it says in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives, plans of giving us a hope and a future. There has to be a plan for your church. Whatever church you go to, there has to be a whole financial, a whole stewardship plan for that church. And your senior pastor needs to be onboard from the beginning. Like, in other words, what is his vision or what is her vision for the church as a whole. And then, these are just things that can just execute that or that we can do to get those going.

But to answer directly, it is finding out the pastor’s heart and then plugging in the things that already exist, that already exist. Like in other words, like if your church is already doing a fast then just also discuss with the pastor there’s another way of doing it, doing a financial fast as well and in helping in those areas. That’s the easiest and quickest method. Plug into things that already exist and then just adding some stewardship components to it and then getting everyone involved.

Derek: So I appreciate that your answer is so succinct because I agree with you. You could devote a whole show; you could probably devote a series of episodes of podcasts just to this subject.

George: But that’s the whole reason why if someone ever is running a stewardship and they’re leading stewardship at their church, one of the reasons they say it’s not going very well or it’s failing, the reason why is they’re trying to do it by themselves. Like, I tell them, stewardship is not a department. What stewardship is, it’s a culture. What we do here is a culture. You can’t just have a Bible reading department or a prayer department, you know? No, no, no. This is a church that prays. This is a church that does stewardship. You look at certain churches that do stewardship very well; the senior pastor could halfway be the pastor of stewardship.

Because it has to be part of it, where everyone has bought into it in senior management. So that’s the job of the person that’s leading in stewardship is to get everybody onboard. It’s too heavy of a load to pull by yourself, and you’re only going to meet with a certain number of people that way.

Derek: So I think one of the things that I think is a little bit dangerous, even for some of the stewardship leaders that are out there in local churches, is to use the fact that maybe they haven’t gotten the buy-in from their senior pastor as an excuse for why things aren’t going the way they want them to go.

And I’ve seen in some cases where if you have this idea, something you wanted to put out there in front of the entire church, like a financial fast, you may have to win over your senior pastor with some smaller victories. And they may need to hear that, yeah, you’re making some progress in some other areas where people are really starting to actually buzz about what’s going on in your ministry. And now, okay, I see, hey, there’s something we could go to the…do the broadcast with here. To think though that you could come right out of the gate with something huge like this is probably a little bit naive.

George: Yeah. That would very aggressive. I mean, obviously, you know, I’ve been at the church for so many years and doing it that way. But initially, it was taking over the regular fast and then saying let me just add some components to it. In other words, like if people were just to make it very practical, if somebody says that “Hey, we’re no meat, no sweets, no alcohol, hey, let’s instead of…since I don’t already drink, or I don’t already eat meat, let’s just stop doing reality television.” Let’s stop hanging around or doing things that are meaning us no good. Why don’t we just take up…let’s not add anything to our credit cards?

Let’s look at an area…we had somewhere where we were doing service this year. So whatever we do…and I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m giving out all the secrets today. But whenever the Church has any campaign and they’ll through it out there…they said, “This year, we’re gonna serve with gladness.” And we give everyone a bag of…what area, how we’re going to serve this year. So now I said, “Great.” I took over…I said, “I’m going to look at this as a stewardship thing.” Because you remember, with stewardship, we have stewardship over three areas of our lives. Time. Every day there’s 86,400 seconds in a day. So we have to learn how to manage that. Second is talent. And the third is treasure. So when they’re serving, we’re going to help do…we’re going to help them do that. Because wait, because we’re really nice people. We’re great. But then also they’ll be stewardship elements of that next year. You see, you have to plant. And then, later on, we want to reap the harvest. So that’s how we’re gonna walk through this.

Derek: This is great stuff. Because I think, again, for a lot of the listeners to the podcast, they’re going to say, “Well, yeah, that’s great for George that he’s able to go and do a full blown 21 Day Financial Fast. But look at all this…he had it on easy street.” When the reality is, is you were taking all these nice little incremental steps, building that base that then allowed you to launch this thing forward. So here’s what I want to ask you now. I want to know how it went. You know, what has happened in and through this financial fast and what are you seeing happen there at Faithful Central?

George: Oh, good. That’s good, another really good question. So I’m going to tell you what happened last year when we did it and then also we’re doing it right now.

So first of all, last year we had so many people that came..and you know, one of the biggest things we want to do is get people out of credit cards and get people out of debt. So, so many people…we have so many testimonies of people that came, and they got out of debt and in the different areas. But also, where our…and then another…I just want to give you the two…another area is a lot of people, home ownership. Our church is in Inglewood, California. So people didn’t…we always said we were Los Angeles but then now that you are seeing where the Rams, where they’re building the stadiums, they’re doing a lot of developments in Inglewood and our church used to own the Forum, they were doing a lot of things for people with home ownership because now they have their finances in order, they’re able to do it.

Also again, we’re in Los Angeles, California. So the average home value in Los Angeles is $432,000. So it’s a little bit higher than it is around the country. So to quality to do certain things, people are in position. But I want to tell you one of the biggest things we got out of this. A lot of families became closer together. There’s a lot of people who had either children living at home with them, above age 18. And just them getting a plan together for their whole family, that was one. Also, marriages. Couples sitting down and there were, there were men that came to me at church, and they were like I’m doing the financial fast. Now, my wife, we’re sitting down, we’re doing this, we’re doing this, we have a plan. And then they made their husband sign the commitment card. Did I tell you about the commitment card?

The commitment card, as you know, in Psalms 24:1, “The Earth is the LORD’s and the fullness therein.” So we have people fill out a commitment card that they’re committed to the promise and declare to have stewardship over their finances and [inaudible 00:18:48]. And then they sign a quitclaim deed at the bottom overall, did I say some? I didn’t say some. I didn’t say most. All of their assets, everything they have, assets and debts, over to God.

And then they would manage it as if God were sitting there and they were just having a meeting with God every week of how they were managing their assets. Because remember, that’s what a steward is, just a manager of what God’s blessed you with. So when people had to sit down and then…for people in the financial arena, when they had a balance sheet.

That’s the first time some people had ever sat together (been married 10, 20, years.) It’s the first time they sat down together and actually went over their finances and what they were doing with God in setting their goals and actually achieving them. So that with married couples and then also my latest book, I call it “Financial Intimacy,” where we can learn how to manage finances together as a couple. And then the families working together and in doing it.

Derek: Man. I just love this stuff. I feel like I should go sign one of your quitclaim deeds right now.

George: It’s not too late. Because this year, this year, we’re on fire too. We had to go in and actually…I’ll be teaching actually congregation-wide over this week. So I have to adults and also to the general church.

Derek: That’s awesome. That’s so cool. I just…I love how…you know, on the one hand, we could say, “Oh, a quitclaim deed, that’s kind of a cute little add on.” But you’ve led the people to the place where they understand, yes, this is not my stuff. This is God’s stuff. It is simply for me to manage. And I think just that, that exercise of saying…even if it may be something that’s kind of cute and fun to fill that out, there’s really a gravity to it, there’s a weight to it. Yeah, this means something, and I understand who the true owner is. I just, I just love it.

George: It’s the accountability. Like your car, you drive a certain way. But if you had someone else’s car, you’d typically treat that car better. They have to start doing that. You have to start doing that. If you rent a car, you walk around the car and look at it. And you make sure you park it somewhere where you can just bring it back and not have no problems. We want to understand that we’re managing what God has blessed us with. So that’s why we want to just take that extra level of accountability.

Derek: That’s it, man. The 21 Day Financial Fast. George, thank you for joining me on the podcast today and sharing with me about this.

George: My pleasure. Any time.

Derek: So for all the listeners out there, I think he’s made a pretty good case for checking it out. If you go over to faithfulCentral.com/financialfast, you can get the scoop; you can get the details. And who knows? Maybe you sign up yourself. I’ll probably be heading over there once we finish this recording. For great content, the podcast, info on the next CSN Forum and more, visit ChristianStewardshipNetwork.com. Until next time here’s to leading and serving well, for God’s glory and your joy. Thanks so much for being with us.

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The Future of Stewardship Ministry: How to Cross the Generational Divide [Podcast] http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/stewardship-ministry/the-future-of-stewardship-chris-brown/ Tue, 07 Feb 2017 16:45:23 +0000 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/?p=3412 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/stewardship-ministry/the-future-of-stewardship-chris-brown/#respond http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/stewardship-ministry/the-future-of-stewardship-chris-brown/feed/ 0 <p>The Future of Stewardship Ministry In this month’s episode of the CSN Podcast, our host, Derek Sisterhen, interviews Chris Brown in a discussion about Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z on, “How to organize your stewardship ministry to reach across the generational divide in your church.” Chris Brown is a nationally syndicated radio talk […]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/stewardship-ministry/the-future-of-stewardship-chris-brown/">The Future of Stewardship Ministry: How to Cross the Generational Divide [Podcast]</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com">Christian Stewardship Network</a>.</p> future of stewardshipThe Future of Stewardship Ministry

In this month’s episode of the CSN Podcast, our host, Derek Sisterhen, interviews Chris Brown in a discussion about Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z on, “How to organize your stewardship ministry to reach across the generational divide in your church.”

The Future of Stewardship Ministry

Chris Brown is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, pastor and dynamic speaker carrying the message of stewardship and intentional living nationwide as a Ramsey Personality. Available on radio stations across the country, Chris Brown’s True Stewardship provides biblical solutions and sound advice for questions on life and money. Prior to joining Ramsey Solutions in 2014, Chris spent seven years leading many to Christ while growing churches in North Carolina and Florida. Chris and his wife, Holly, live in Franklin, Tennessee, with their three children. You can follow Chris online at Stewardship.com, on Twitter and Instagram at @ChrisBrownOnAir, or at facebook.com/ChrisBrownOnAir.

What to read more about this month’s episode? Here is an excerpt from the transcript of this episode’s conversation. 

Derek: So it seems, to me at least, almost a daily occurrence that I come across something talking about how millennials are taking over the world. The baby boomers don’t know what to do with them. Gen-Xers don’t know what to do with them. We’ve just got this generational kind of tension if you will. All of these generations, these people, are present in our churches, and our stewardship leaders are trying to figure out, “How do we minister to them?” So my first question to you is, how do you see stewardship leaders in the local church effectively reach across those generational divides in the days ahead?

Chris: Yeah. Great question, and definitely a felt need. I think first and foremost; the millennials want to feel involve. They want to feel valued. So when you’re trying to bridge that gap between generations, you’ve got to look to your staffing. How many millennials do you have on your staff? How bought in are they to the stewardship movement? The only way you’re going to get buy-in when it comes to the stewardship movement is to get them involved so they can actually feel the pain. They can touch the pain, and they can be real to them. They can see the results.

So first of all, I would just say staffing. If you look around and you’ve got 14 people on staff and all of them are over 50, you’re not going to connect well with millennials. Another one is your stage, and it might not just be the auditorium. It might be everywhere there’s influence. Do you have any millennials that have influence? Are they onstage in some capacity? Maybe they’re making an announcement, or maybe they’re doing worship, or maybe they’re even speaking occasionally.

But get them involved. Millennials are going to connect with you more if they see millennials onstage. It starts even on Sunday morning and Saturday nights, and then it goes from there, so in the ministries and everything else after that. I think also, we’ve got to research. What are they excited about? They’re excited about life change. They’re excited about being involved in movements. They love like serving Saturdays and community outreach. So we’ve got to do the research on what they’re actually looking for.

Another thing is programming. If your programming is directed towards the 55-year-old or 45-year-old, you’re not going to reach them. So there’s got to be some programming. We’ve got to kind of move with the times and make sure that we’re connecting, not alienating other generations, but we’ve got to find some common ground where we can connect to all generations through our programming. That’s counting the weekend services and also counting secondary environments as well.

Then, recently, there was a post. I think there was a Washington Post article that talked about what millennials are looking for in the church. They’re not looking for flashy lights and all that stuff. The primary thing they’re looking for is warmth. They’re looking for warmth. It’s a little bit more than friendliness. It’s this tone of the environments that you create. Create warmth. Even though there is a generational gap, all people are attracted to warmth.

Derek: Sure.

Chris: So you’ve got to create that with your programming.

Derek: I think those are really great observations. I know here, in North Carolina, when we are engaging that particular age segment, the millennial group… So they tend to get a bad rap, and we think of them as, “Well, maybe they’re kind of lazy or entitled,” and those kinds of things. But I think you’re making a great point. There’s a sense of wanting to belong.

Chris: Yes.

Derek: Wanting to be a part of something that’s bigger than themselves. When we can create that atmosphere in our churches, absolutely, you start to draw them in.

Chris: Yeah. Derek, I’m going just to add, I would say that they appear to be very entitled. But I would just say, they just haven’t mastered the art of covering up their entitlement. I actually think that 40-year-olds and 50-year-olds, we have an overall problem. Our human nature is that we deserve. I just think millennials have not grown up enough to polish it and make it look sophisticated. They’re coming out being blunt about it. So they get the bad rap, but all of us have an entitlement that we’ve got to beat over the head on a daily basis.

Derek: I appreciate you making that point. I think you’re right on. They’re just being more transparent. They’re just real about it.

Chris: Yes.

Derek: From a practical standpoint, as particularly on the financial side, the stewardship side, I’d be interested in getting your perspective on this. But I would envision that over the course of the next, say, five, ten years, we see a shift in maybe stewardship programming and course offerings, and resource offerings towards really helping people work through systematically eliminating student loan debt. Because we know that the millennial generation has had this front row seat to the Great Recession. But then, on the other side, this is also the one, this generation is saddled with the most student loan debt coming out.

We’ve seen in some of our programmings at Hope; these folks totally get it. “Yeah. I need to have a budget. I want to be able to give money and contribute to what God is doing. I need to have savings. But I’ve also got $60,000, $80,000, $100,000 worth of student loan debt. Now what?” So it’s like, I don’t have to convince them that living on a budget and controlling their spending is smart. They want to get a real action plan together to eliminate that big monkey on their back. What do you see in that regard?

Chris: Yeah. I think the latest stat I saw, the average student is graduating with $37,000 in student loans. You think about their average salary coming is probably around $30,000 to $35,000. So it’s a year’s worth of debt. That’s a hard thing to tackle. For me, as far as whether you’re a millennial or whether you’re 50, regardless, if you’ve got that much debt, it comes back to Proverb 6:5. It just does. You’ve got to free yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter. There’s no other way around it. I don’t like debt consolidation. I don’t like debt management. I don’t like debt kits. I like debt elimination.

What that means is you’ve got to be a minimalist for 18, 24, 36 months, and you cream it. You just absolutely send $1,000 payments and $1,500 payments, and you live on nothing. That’s the only way to do this. Otherwise, you pay your debt for seven years or 15 years. You know this. You can fall into debt, but you can’t fall out. So you’ve absolutely got just to slap it in the face. You’ve got to get mad at it. I think that generation actually does pretty good from the standpoint of minimalists. Somehow, it’s a little bit trendy. I know it [isn’t here, national]. It’s kind of like, “What’s the littlest amount I can live on and kind of be a mooch for a while?” Which is another whole sermon.

Derek: Right.

Chris: But I think they take pride in that, that, “Hey, yeah. I can get some Old Navy jeans and wear them ten times out of 14 days,” and figure it out. But that’s the only way out of this. Whether you’re 50 or whether you’re 20, it’s the same deal.

Derek: Yeah. I mean, this is the generation that kind of birthed the whole tiny house thing. Right?

Chris: Yeah. That’s true. That’s true. They’ve got some good ideas.

Derek: They do. They live on less. I like it.

Chris: Yep.

Derek: Well, let me kind of make a transition here to talking about tools that we use. So we know that we’ve got this generational gap to bridge. But let’s talk a little bit about technology and how that’s going to help us in the days ahead. I know here, again at Hope, we made a decision a couple of years ago to record one of these live classes that we did. We just called it “Financial Foundations,” and we thought, “Well…” We saw attendance decline in the live version of the class. So we recorded it. We threw the videos out there online. People can watch them in their pajamas.

As a result, we were able to start connecting with a whole new group of people that either might not choose to show up to one of our classes, or they may not even be able to based on their schedule. All of our listeners are aware of FPU and just the incredible paradigm shift, I think, that occurred in stewardship ministry with that resource alone being available. How is technology influencing the further development of new tools and new resources at Ramsey Solutions?

Chris: Well, I think it’s a huge deal, and it’s a huge conversation, and it’s very, very important. When you’re thinking about this next generation, they’ve got a shorter attention span. So a 45-minute lesson, we’ve got to condense that. Instead of having nine 45-minute lessons, maybe we have… [We don’t want to cut out some of the material because it’s all very good material.] So maybe it’s like 15 15-minute sessions. They’re not called “classes.” They’re called “hangouts.” You sign up via text, not via email. Do you see the shift there?

It’s still the same content, but we’re going about it a different way, trying to make sure that we speak their language. I think whatever the recording and the capture, it’s got to be the latest HD quality. Subconsciously, they’re going to be equating that to what they’ve got in their living room and what they see in Walmart, and what they see in Target and Best Buy. They’re going to see the best stuff out there. So on the weekends, we’ve got to have the best screens.

So we’ve got to make sure that we work our budgets in a way where we’ve got money to put into those creative solutions because that is the mouthpiece of the vision. That’s the mouthpiece of, “Jesus uses the church.” We want to make sure that message is just as compelling as a Coca-Cola commercial on the weekend. So it’s got to be just as compelling. I also think, convenience matters. Convenience is huge to this generation.

So those kiosks that are in the lobby, the website to give has only got to be like one or two clicks. It can’t be seven clicks, and then you’re scrolling and clicking, and scrolling. You’re putting in everything, all your information, including like your blood type and where you were born. It really is just two or three things. It’s got to be quick. When you send out a letter, the letter can’t be three pages long and a bunch of text. It’s got to be just a couple paragraphs. “Hey, thank you so much.”

Those are the kind of moves that we’ve got to start making if we haven’t already, and I think we’ve got to be aware of skepticism. They live in a generation where they’ve seen several pastors fall over the last 20 or 30 years, which have been a little bit more public. They’ve fallen for hundreds of years.

Derek: Sure.

Chris: But now, it’s more public. Because of social media, because of media in general, there’s a little bit of skepticism. So you’ve got to go about it in a different way, where it’s, I would say, just a little bit less threatening, and you’ve got to be aware of the stigmas that are out there as well. You can’t provide a class and just say, “Hey, we’re providing a class.” No. You’ve got to see if you can get everyone to kind of rally around it and go together. Because if you go to a class and you’re just one of five people, well there’s a stigma that you’re a broke person. “Oh, that’s the broke person class.”

Derek: Right.

Chris: We’ve got to think through all these things when you’re thinking about the next generation.
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The Future of Stewardship Ministry In this month’s episode of the CSN Podcast, our host, Derek Sisterhen, interviews Chris Brown in a discussion about Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z on, “How to organize your stewardship ministry to reach across... The Future of Stewardship Ministry In this month’s episode of the CSN Podcast, our host, Derek Sisterhen, interviews Chris Brown in a discussion about Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z on, “How to organize your stewardship ministry to reach across the generational divide in your church.” Chris Brown is a nationally syndicated radio talk […] Christian Stewardship Network clean 21:58
International Stewardship: Ministry In The United Kingdom http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/international-stewardship-ministry-united-kingdom/ Mon, 19 Sep 2016 20:11:54 +0000 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/?p=3037 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/international-stewardship-ministry-united-kingdom/#respond http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/international-stewardship-ministry-united-kingdom/feed/ 0 <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/international-stewardship-ministry-united-kingdom/">International Stewardship: Ministry In The United Kingdom</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com">Christian Stewardship Network</a>.</p>

Jeff Lestz and James Mowle from Hillsong Church London join Derek in a discussion about stewardship ministry in the church in the UK.

International Stewardship: Ministry In The United Kingdom

 

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Ministry to High Capacity Givers, Part 2 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/ministry-to-high-capacity-givers-part-2/ Fri, 01 Jul 2016 08:17:45 +0000 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/?p=2980 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/ministry-to-high-capacity-givers-part-2/#respond http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/ministry-to-high-capacity-givers-part-2/feed/ 0 <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/ministry-to-high-capacity-givers-part-2/">Ministry to High Capacity Givers, Part 2</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com">Christian Stewardship Network</a>.</p>

Part 2 of an interview with Ron Blue and Chris Goulard covers what happens when high capacity givers begin to surrender their finances back to God and what’s possible for the kingdom.

Ministry to High Capacity Givers (Part 2)

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Ministry to High Capacity Givers, Part 1 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/ministry-to-high-capacity-givers-part-1/ Wed, 01 Jun 2016 08:15:41 +0000 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/?p=2975 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/ministry-to-high-capacity-givers-part-1/#respond http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/ministry-to-high-capacity-givers-part-1/feed/ 0 <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/ministry-to-high-capacity-givers-part-1/">Ministry to High Capacity Givers, Part 1</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com">Christian Stewardship Network</a>.</p>

Part 1 of an interview with Ron Blue and Chris Goulard discussing what makes ministry to those with significant financial resources unique, and how stewardship leaders can engage the heart without an agenda for money.

Ministry to High Capacity Givers (Part 1)

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Women in Stewardship Ministry http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/women-in-stewardship-ministry/ Sun, 01 May 2016 08:24:50 +0000 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/?p=2983 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/women-in-stewardship-ministry/#respond http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/women-in-stewardship-ministry/feed/ 0 <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/women-in-stewardship-ministry/">Women in Stewardship Ministry</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com">Christian Stewardship Network</a>.</p>

Host Derek Sisterhen welcomes Trish Crossley to discuss her experience as a woman in stewardship ministry leadership, and the critical importance of engaging and serving the needs of woman through stewardship ministry, as well as inviting them to join the team.

Women In Stewardship Ministry

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Volunteers: Are Guidelines Needed For Financial Professionals Serving In Ministry? http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/volunteers-are-guidelines-needed-for-financial-professionals-serving-in-ministry/ Fri, 01 Apr 2016 08:15:20 +0000 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/?p=2924 http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/volunteers-are-guidelines-needed-for-financial-professionals-serving-in-ministry/#respond http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/volunteers-are-guidelines-needed-for-financial-professionals-serving-in-ministry/feed/ 0 <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com/podcast/volunteers-are-guidelines-needed-for-financial-professionals-serving-in-ministry/">Volunteers: Are Guidelines Needed For Financial Professionals Serving In Ministry?</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://christianstewardshipnetwork.com">Christian Stewardship Network</a>.</p>

In this month’s episode, our CSN Podcast Host, Derek Sisterhen, interviews Stewardship Pastors, Leo Sabo and Chris Goulard, in a discussion about the best way to lead financial professionals serving in stewardship ministry while protecting the church, the individual being served and the volunteer.

Volunteers: Are Guidelines Needed For Financial Professionals Serving In Ministry?

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