Practical Application of Biblical Stewardship

(Originally published as an article within ECCU’s former e-publication, Ministry Banking Today.)

Last month, we looked at four key elements of stewardship as described by Mark G. Holbrook, president and CEO of ECCU. Here we present a panel discussion with several California ministry leaders on effective stewardship of their ministries’ resources.

MBT: Mark, you’ve spoken of stewarding people as opposed to resources. What are the challenges of stewarding a diverse team?

Mark G. Holbrook: The first challenge is realizing that shared faith does not always guarantee great relationships. God created us as unique individuals, and our differences can emerge when we are in the trenches. So we seek to create an environment with healthy, open communication that encourages conflict resolution.

MBT: How do you handle people on your team who are not on the same page as you?

Matthew Cork (lead pastor of Yorba Linda Friends Church): If my mentality is “Kingdom” and not “Friends Church kingdom,” then I can steward those people to be all they can be, in spite of our differences.

Joe Parker (regional giving and training director at Mission Increase Foundation): In previous consultations with churches, I first conducted interviews to get a pulse for how leaders felt about their current projects and campaigns. It often helps to have an outside person ask the hard questions to see if a church is united on a decision.

MBT: What are some challenges of working with lay leaders in ministry?

Matthew: Using people in their best capacity and learning to partner gifts to get a job done the best way possible.

Mark: Churches often settle for less spiritual maturity in order to get technical competence. Don’t compromise, even if it means waiting for the right person.

Joe: One of my goals in capital campaigns is to get staff out of the way. Let staff do what they do well, and let lay people do what they do best.

MBT: What counsel can you give to ministry leaders entering a building project?

Jim Clark (business administrator at First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton): Do your homework before you start spending money. Figure out early on what you want and consult wise counsel for how to get from point A to point B.

Matthew: Keep in mind the local economy. For us, raising money in Southern California was not good stewardship because costs continued to go up faster than we could bring money in. We set boundaries and determined what percentage of our income would go to building costs.

MBT: How do you determine your budget?

Jim: We look at reliable economic forecasts and data, then overlay the senior pastor’s vision to determine what we can realistically achieve in the coming year. Our other pastors have buy-in on their budgets, which are then approved by trustees and the board.

Joe: We compare the previous year’s actual budget to the projected budget. Anything over a 10 percent increase makes us ask questions.

Matthew: We rely on prayer and a sense of God’s Spirit offering unity among the decision makers. However you budget, there is a balance between stewardship and faith. We also review the budget halfway through the year and evaluate if changes need to be made.

To continue reading about applying biblical stewardship principles to your ministry, we recommend Randy Alcorn’s book, The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving.

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