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.
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.
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.