Back in 2014, the church I was serving at had to cut one of our short-term mission budgets to the Natives we had been committed for many years. The budget cut was rather sudden so the majority of high school and college students who comprised the bulk of the group were not quite ready with the doubling of the mission registration cost. I was getting rather worried and began to wonder if people will be able to afford to join the team and serve as we had done before.
It was during the early spring of 2014 when a friend of mine just called me out of the blue. I hadn’t spoken to him for about 5 years and the day he happened to call me was the day after I found out about the short-term mission budget changes.
Just when I began to complain to God about the injustices of this sudden change, my friend called and asked me if I had any financial need. He began to tell me that he felt prompted by God to call me and give to any need I may have. I was speechless and so humbled as I was reminded by God that he knew our situation and heard my cry.
I began to share with my friend about our sudden turn of budget constraint that was placed on the team I was leading. After I shared, he simply asked me how much we needed. Just like that? I said that the price was doubled from $400 to $800, and this affected roughly about 15 people, so the total we needed was $6000. My friend wrote a check out for $6300 that very day and mailed it out right away. I got the check a few days later and submitted it to the church and we were able to provide a scholarship to those who needed the funds.
That year, we took a team of 20 people as we did annually, and we were able to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Natives we had been ministering for close to a decade. All because God had prompted a family’s heart, and this family was positioned to give generously and was heeding God’s leading in the way they can bless the church of Christ.
What was especially amazing for me from this experience was that my friend was a high school teacher. How does a person with a teacher’s salary manage to save up so much money and give so generously? And I began to think more seriously about what we needed to do to disciple our people to be positioned to give generously when prompted by God.
In order for God’s people to be positioned to give generously, a few things must have happened in their lives.
Whose is it? My friend and his wife embraced the reality that everything belonged to God and that they were temporary stewards (managers) of God’s finances.
How much do you need? They also knew what they needed to provide for their family. Because they knew what was given for their family’s need, they also knew what was given to them to give away generously.
Prioritize givingregularly. He and his wife spent less than they earned and intentionally saved for giving. I believe this is a mark of God’s people who give consistently and generously.
Seek the Master’s wishes. People who want to follow the wishes of their Master seek the Master’s input. They prayed and listened. They sought and waited to see where God might want them to give.
Obey the Master. After praying, they obeyed by responding to how they believe God had prompted them to give.
I remember sharing this amazing news to my congregation a few Sundays after the donation. A member came to me afterward. She shared how encouraged and challenged she was to see such generous and sacrificial giving.
I told her that she too can do what my friend did if she also began to live out her life as God’s steward by 1) recognizing that everything belongs to God, 2) spending less than what she earned by living with a budget, and 3) prioritizing giving.
We all want to. We have the desire to give generously to God and God’s purposes, but it is not enough to have great intentions. If we want to give generously and sacrificially to God, we have to position ourselves by managing God’s treasures wisely. That takes work and discipline like anything of value.
Dream here with me.
What could your local church do if the people of God in your church were managing finances God’s way by spending less than they earned, didn’t have any debt, and tithing and giving above and beyond with generosity? Imagine the kind of ministry you can do for your community and the world with the unique call God has placed in your local church’s heart?
I’m reminded of the parable of the talents from Matthew 25 which teaches us about the principle of stewardship. We are reminded that 1) the Master owns it all, 2) the Master gave temporary management of his treasures, 3) the Master will come to judge how we have managed.
Church, how are you discipling God’s people in this important area of managing our treasures? We do such a good job of discipling our people in time and talents, why not treasures? After all, Jesus talks quite a lot about it in the Scriptures.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Jang serves as an Associate Pastor at Church Gathered and Scattered in North Haledon, New Jersey. He is also Certified Financial Coach & Church Stewardship Ministry Consultant at www.jangfinancial.com
In today’s episode of the Generosity Labs podcast, we interview Joseph Sangl who is on a quest to help pastors get over their fear about talking about money. He is the founder of I Was Broke Now I’m Not.
Key points in the discussion:
How does a pastor bring up the taboo subject of money with his preaching?
What are some take-aways to add into a pastor’s sermon about giving and generosity?
How powerful and important is an offering prep?
4 Resources About Financial Management
You can listen, subscribe or watch my interview with Joseph below.
Reach out to Joseph Sangl on iwasbrokenowimnot.com
CHECK OUT WWW.GENEROSITYLABS.ORG for more episodes, blog articles and more resources about giving and generosity.
KENNY: Good day everybody. This is Kenny Jahng coming at you again and today, in the hot seat, we’ve got a good friend Joe Sangl. Thank you so much for being with us, Joe, today.
JOE: Fired up. Thanks so much brother.
KENNY: It is great to be with you especially because the conversation that we’ve been having with a lot of churches in the past recently center around the taboo topic of money. Giving and money. And I know that you are in that space. You’re talking about that everyday, actually. So, why don’t you share with our audience a little about who you are, what you do and how you help churches in particular.
JOE: My name is Joseph Sangl. And I founded an organization called I Was Broke, Now, I Am Not. and I’d like to say people, if you’re saying now, he is broke? You’re failing grammar class and it’s not fun being broke. And I got unbroke and I did it by following God’s Word and applying His principles. And as I went through the process, I have an Engineering degree from Purdue University, got my MBA, and I was still broke. And I was wondering, “Was it that difficult?” And I realized, I was thinking too hard that it’s really the reading of God’s Word and the application of it. I started finding all the scripture about money. And I’ve found out that God’s Word is not silent on it. But, my pastor had been silent on it. Therefore, I was educated by all those great marketers from Madison Avenue and I spend it all. I have the spiritual gift to making money disappear and I got deliverance. And I am on a one-man quest to help pastors get over their fear in talking about money because all their people, they make money decisions all day long.
KENNY: So, let’s get into that because I think it’s still even today in 2017, a little bit of a taboo topic for these pastors and church leaders that we’re talking to, they’re afraid to bring it up. They feel like they’re begging for money. They feel like it’s out of place. It’s not an etiquette. In fact, I’ve had lunch with a pastor this week who said, he literally doesn’t have any data on how much money people give in his church. They put up a security wall, so that he literally doesn’t know. So, what is the first step? If people here listening today want to embrace a culture of generosity, how do they bring up money and tithing and giving if they’ve never preached on it before, right, which is very possible, they don’t do it in classes, or workshops or seminars, or even in the bible studies, what’s the first step? How do you bring it up for the first time the pulpit or from the stage?
JOE: That’s a great question and I would say, they need to start with the “Why”. Why do they want to talk about it because if it’s just to get them to give, that’s not appropriate “why”. If it’s, I want to teach them about what God’s Word says about all of money, giving but also saving, debt, planning, investing, if I want to see them win and fund the dreams God has placed in their life and be able to fund the shared dream of the church, then, when they get to that place if that is their why, then, that’s when they need to approach the church with it. A lot of pastors, when they hear us say, “You need to preach on money.”, they immediately, something about that word replaces it with the word with ‘giving’ — preach on ‘giving’. But, that’s only, you know, 10%. If you’re giving, preaching the tithe, that’s only 10% of the resources God has placed in their hands. You need to make sure you speak to the entire pocket, the other 90%, as well. And so, I would start by talking about their goal as a leader to help people live a fully funded life, being able to do exactly what God has called them to do, regardless of its cause or income potential and then, go from that point. I am going to talk about giving, yes, that is God’s Word. We should be givers. I will talk about the rest, too because I also want to help you live the best and only life you have.
KENNY: I love that. That is such a critical insight. That, if you’re preaching on giving, you’re only talking about 10% of their daily living of what they go through, you need to talk about the holistic aspect. Now, some people have an allergic reaction to thinking that money and stewardship is a part of spiritual discipline. What’s your take on it?
JOE: I just say, how can you say you love the Lord and not be a giver? How can you say He died and paid the ultimate price that we can have liberty? And you know, I have heard one said, “How can I stare at the blood-stained cross, and say what is the minimum of I can give?” You know what I’m saying? So, Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” And if you say you love the Lord, if you say your heart is with the Lord, it will compel you to be a giver.
KENNY: In terms of preaching, you were saying that, “Hey, look, we’re not going to talk about actually giving to the church. That is not the focus or the end goal or the call to action at the end of the first time you’re talking about it.” What’s the take-away of that first talk, the first sermon someone’s going to give?
JOE: I think the take-away is to ask the question, “Are you truly honoring the Lord with everything He has placed in your hands?” And I would challenge every person within my church to spend an hour this next week reviewing their last month’s spending. Pull out their credit card statements, bank statements and say, “In an audit, when someone convicts you, which means having them found guilty of, living a generous life and being a wise manager.” I am going to start there. I love the story that Jesus shares in parable to talents in Matthew 25:14-30, where it talks about the three manager. And it says in there, each according to their ability they’re giving different amounts. If people want more to manage, increase your ability to manage it. It says, the Lord pays attention to that.
KENNY: Got you. Shifting gears a little bit. About the specific offering, one of the things that I’m a bit proponent about, and I think that people miss is that the offering part of the service is one of the most strategic moments of your ability to influence the daily living of your congregants. How powerful can that be? Have you seen any tangible differences when people pursue that?
JOE: Absolutely. There’s a massive difference. Some people called it an offering prep. But, really, it is an opportunity to speak about money 52 times a year in a positive, productive and spiritual principle manner. And we encourage people to change it up each week, so it doesn’t blend into the woodwork. Many churches have fallen into a routine, and it’s, “Oh yeah, we need to do that.” But really, giving is one of the most tangible forms of worship that we can do. It is really us, saying, “I can give this and believe that with God’s blessing on the rest, I can live a better life.” It’s the tangible form of saying that I trust the Lord. And so, I want to encourage every leader that’s listening to this, watching this is that you should think through and spend as much time planning the offering moment as you do in planning the message. It’s that important.
KENNY: And one of the biggest hesitations is that if you are constantly putting up calls-to-action about giving and money that the reaction is being negative, you’re going to be seen as someone who’s greedy and self-serving. How do you avoid that perception on the receiving end?
JOE: So, again, if the leader feels like that is what they’re doing, then, they are probably doing that they need to re-evaluate their why. But on the other side, the way you speak about giving, it needs to be about the mission and the vision and how giving has helped accomplished it. And being into the attitude of gratitude to tell people, “I’m so grateful to you’ve chosen to be part of the vision here at Cornerstone Church, at Crosspoint Church. Let me tell you how your giving a dollar makes a difference in our community and connecting the dots that these dollars really have equal life change.” And when you do that, it actually encourages people. It helps them understand that there’s a return of investment, an ROI here. And they know for a fact, this is the greatest place that I can give my dollar.
KENNY: Tell us a little bit more on your ministry in particular, how you actually help churches accomplish that tactically and logistically. What other resources that you are able to derive?
JOE: Well, I feel like there are four spokes of the wheel that fund churches. And we’re serving all 4 of them. One is personal stewardship. With I Was Broke, Now I Am Not, we have personal finance group studies, think of Dave Ramsey’s Type studies. I go on sites, teach stewardship messages, teach 2 hour classes. And then, have DVD based studies resources. The next one is InJoy Stewardship Solutions. That’s capital campaigns. That’s the sacrificial pocket. You know, that time of sacrifice come and go. And that helps churches raise big time money when they’re raising half of the year’s the budget or more. That’s when we can help. And then, the third pocket is the regular giving pocket. And I started that with somebody you and I both know, Michael Lukaszewski, an organization called Fully-Funded. It’s an online coaching membership where churches have gathered together, learning how to implement regular giving systems within their church. The fourth pocket is Estate Planning and that’s talking to people about their assets and what they’re going to do with them when they leave. And how they can still have kingdom impact even beyond their after life. And so we help in those all four categories and the greatest place to start really is a conversation with I Was Broke. Now, I Am Not or with InJoy Stewardship Solutions or Fully-Funded whichever category a pastor needs. We love to help them with that.
KENNY: Most of the churches in this country now, in the State of the Union is that over 50% of the churches are a hundred or less in attendees.
JOE: That’s right.
KENNY: And then, you’re probably talking solo pastor ministries, right? Is the pastor himself/herself the one that really should be the spokesperson, the steward, the facilitator of this conversations or is it a treasurer, a finance person, volunteers, an elder or somebody else that should be the point person for these types of conversation?
JOE: That’s a great question. And the right answer is it depends. It depends upon the past culture of the church and how people respond to that culture. So, if the pastor feels confident talking about money and can answer those questions, then, it should be the pastor, you know, their kind of CEO of your church. They’re the public face of the ministry. They are the chief vision-caster in most cases. So, it’s most compelling when it’s from the leader. However, many pastors in smaller churches have a very strong business leader, who’s a leader of their board, who can speak very eloquently on this topic. It can be a very wise shepherd, helping people honor the Lord with their resources. So, if that’s the case, then, it’s okay if that person as well.
KENNY: I am really glad that you’re both advocating depending on the context. This past week I had lunch with a pastor who shared with me that he literally does not know any of the finances of his church. Is that wise? Is that something that you think that needs to be cordoned off, you know, the pastor, he’s deep in the Word, preaching in his ministry and the rest of the flock are concerned about the business of the church, the expansion of the church, etc. what’s your opinion on that?
JOE: I would argue strongly, the pastor should know. Proverbs 27:23 says, “A Shepherd knows the status of his flocks.” The pastors and shepherds and giving is an absolute outward sign of a person’s heart condition. I know in some cases that if the pastor knows they would be fired. So, if that’s the case, I would want to get the pastor fired. I would say, someone must know. And I would start by saying, “Anybody who’s on staff or in a key volunteer leadership position, somebody needs to know that they’re giving generously.” Plus, everything rises and falls on leadership. John Maxwell, right? And if the leader and the leaders of the church are not leading the way in this thing called generosity, you can not expect for that mission, that vision to be fully funded.
KENNY: Wow, that’s pretty powerful. I think it’s a good guidance, too. And I think it also always comes down to the confidence of the pastor. Many pastors are not, right? Seminary didn’t change us like an MBA, like you and I have. It’s a part of the profile that a pastor needs to understand. Where do they go for resources to become up to speed on the financial aspect of the business?
JOE: I would say every single pastor can sign up for our online class for free. And so, I Was Broke, Now I Am Not has a year-long course with coaching, mentoring and lessons and I would give it to any pastor, senior pastor, that contacts us. We would give it to them for free. And I’ll answer their questions. My passion. You know, there are too many broke pastors. And most pastors, especially those of the 200 or less, 100 or less, they don’t go in the ministry to make millions of dollars. They do it because of passion and calling. Most of them don’t have any vacation and are very tired. And my goal is to be able to help them become liberated in their finances so that they can solely focus on God’s calling. And finances, generally, is the number one barrier from that church growing to the 500 mark.
KENNY: I love it. And that’s what I love about your ministry. Your heart really comes through authentically. That’s where your passion is. You really want to help that pastor, the leader get a hold in their own finances, so that they can actually focus on all the other things in ministry as well.
KENNY: Thank you so much for stopping by. If someone wants to get in touch with you personally, what’s the best way to do that? Social media, email, website? Give us your digits here.
JOE: Go to iwasbrokenowimnot.com Just Google it. I Was Broke Now I Am Not. And click Contact Joe. That will go right through me and my team and we’ll be in touch very soon. We’d love to help any leader to be able to fund vision. It’s our passion.
KENNY: Thanks so much Joseph, really to stop by and hope some time to revisit with us later to go deeper in some other topics. But, I love what you’re doing and everything that you do for the kingdom.
JOE: Thanks for the opportunity. So blessed. Thanks Kenny.
The Generosity Labs Podcast is part of a new resource hub for pastors, providing free resources and information about digital giving. You can find more free resources here. A full transcription is below
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