Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Biblical Principles of Financial Stewardship

1 Chronicles 28-29 provides us with some amazing principles of financial stewardship. I love this passage and used it as my guide in leading my former church in four capital campaigns. "Raising money" can often be seen as a necessary negative of ministry; however, I have come to see financial needs as a wonderful opportunity for a church to experience God in tangible ways. This can be accomplished by following these biblical principles:

1. Humility ("my son, Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced" - 29:1. Humble dependence on God is the first and most important principle. Experience is not what God is after, but rather a heart that is totally dependent upon Him. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble, and we certainly need His grace when it comes to a capital campaign. Are you walking in humility?

2. Vision ("I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark" - 28:2). Vision is affected by the past, rooted in the present, with a picture of the future. King David had this vision for the Temple. God put this vision in his heart. Though he was not the one to actually see it fulfilled, God still used David in the process. What is your vision? Put it on paper and share it with others.

3. Purity ("The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man, but for the Lord God" - 29:1). David's vision was pure in that he wanted something for God's glory. It is very easy for a building project or capital campaign to be for the glory of the pastor. We must have no part in such endeavors. Instead, we must pursue a vision that is truly for the Lord's glory! Is your vision for God's glory?

4. Sacrifice ("With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God" - 29:2). David personally invested in this project. He did not call others to do anything that he was not personally willing to do. Each time our church did a capital campaign, I had to personally sacrifice. During one campaign the Lord directed Dede and me to give three months salary for three years to the campaign. Therefore, I signed over every paycheck for the months of October, November, and December (for three years) to our campaign. To this day, there is no explanation but God for how we made it during those three years. I love this definition of sacrifice: "Giving up something you value for something you value more!" Pastor, ask God what He would have you commit to the campaign, and then wait expectantly for His provision and power.

5. Leadership ("then the leaders ... gave toward the work" - 29:6-7). Because of David's example, the leaders gave sacrificially. If you are in leadership, ask God what he would have you do. Your example is crucial to the overall success of the campaign. Lead by example, and as you experience God in your sacrificial giving, be willing to share your story with others. Testimonies are so powerful in a campaign.

6. Participation ("The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders ... And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you" - 29:9, 17). What a great progression we see here: David gave, leaders gave, and now the people follow suite. This is the way it usually works. The congregation will follow the example of their leaders. Notice also the joyful and willing participation. This is because of our next principle:

7. Lordship ("we have given only what comes from Your hand" - 29:14). The essence of stewardship is lordship. When we truly believe that all we have is God's, then we are willing to offer it freely to the Lord. We are merely managers (i.e. stewards) of what God owns. It is not mine. If God says, "Give back to me ___", then we must give back to Him what He says. Pray and obey is a great theme to have in a capital campaign. If everyone prays and obeys what God's says, then whatever God wants to provide will be there! Is Jesus lord of your life? Of your money?

8. Eternal Perspective ("We are aliens and strangers in Your sight ... our days on earth are like a shadow" - 29:15). A huge piece of stewardship for me is having an eternal perspective. What is really going to last? I want to invest my time, money, and possessions in that which will last forever. Giving to kingdom ministry is an eternal investment, and will yield eternal fruit and rewards.

What a privilege to give toward a capital campaign that is for the glory of God and rooted in biblical principles! I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.