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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Debt Retirement - A Priority For Churches

Is debt pinching your ministry, forcing you to cut back on staff, eliminate ministries and generally putting an uptight feeling into your congregational life? A capital campaign can strengthen your church finances and get you back on track. Initially a debt retirement campaign seems unappealing, but it is the best course to reduce the danger of turning off your people through constant pulpit appeals, urgent letters, rearranging financing, or the possibility of bankruptcy.
The tough economy has caught many churches by surprise who in the good times of "borrow and build" incurred more debt than is prudent. The universal "debt law" is to
    * Leverage no more debt than 3 times your income
    * Indebtedness doubles according to the rule of "72" which means whatever rate of interest you are paying, divide that into 72 and the number you get will be the period of time over which debt doubles. For example, 72 divided by 6% = 12 years.
Your church may be reluctant to undertake a debt retirement campaign because the economy is tough and people are struggling with reduced incomes, investment declines, lay offs, etc. Furthermore, debt retirement lacks the appeal and excitement that comes with building or expansion. The fear is that members won't respond without some tangible result for their efforts. The challenge of debt retirement is to develop a message that makes sense to the congregation and which is manageable for the people to support. How can the church motivate the people to dig deeper and participate in extra giving?
To conduct a successful debt campaign, the message must focus on the following:
    * how debt impacts the "people" and "ministry" of our church like pastors and staff, missionaries, children's/youth, poor and needy, our city whom the church is mandated to evangelize
    * the integrity and credibility of church leaders who are entrusted with the management of the church's finances and are committed to operate church finances either debt free or within the margins of conservative debt
    * to make giving possible for the people by showing that if everyone gives the "widow's mite" we can over time correct the debt imbalance in our church. For example, with blue collar wage earning people they can be challenged to give the first hour wages of their week; or with professionals or business people to consider tax advantaged giving through giving equities that have lost value which now can be taken to reduce taxable income
    * the purpose of the capital campaign is to get the church through paying off or reducing its debt as quickly as is possible and to conserve dollars in order to get on with funding the real values of our church which are worship, outreach/inreach, missions, fellowship, Christain education, and so on

A capital campaign will plow through your church to aerate the ground for new mustard seeds of hope and energy. The campaign will have the benefit of forming teams who pull together to make the future possible. It gets the people into a positive formation with ostrich heads out of the sand. It is a proven plan to develop information, togetherness, ownership, and movement forward.
Is now a good time to consider a debt retirement campaign? Why not wait until the economy gets better? Now is a good time because during a bad economy the financial excesses of the past are brought to light so that people need to rely on God's provision and help. It is a time for prayer, faith and trusting for God's provision. Bad economies lead people to be more creative and disciplined; church attendance increases; new ideas and innovations surface; people come to church to find God's help. Also, bad economies do not last and over the three year giving period people are rewarded for their new found frugality and penny pinching. It is when times are the most ugly that churches can best teach God's principles of life management. Bad times are the best time for people and church to grow and learn how to make it better for the next economic cycle. The above paragraph contains the message to present to your people for your church's debt retirement campaign.
King Solomon, the wisest and richest man of his time says, "For the dream comes through much effort...when you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it, for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow!" Ecclesiastes 5: 3-4. So let's be good money managers and get on with the task of eliminating or paying down the church's debt.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


A wonderful morning prayer is to request from God
  • bless us today
  • protect and keep us from harm and evil
  • that we will not be at the wrong place at the wrong time
  • that He rewards our efforts
  • that He will do for me what I cannot do for myself through His great supernatural power
  • to make things happen that I could never make happen on my own
“God is Good” and gives us all things richly to enjoy expresses a deep theology about money and possessions which are captured in the following three points:

1. God Owns Everything
God is the creator of all that exists (Gen. 1:1), and He retains ownership of His creation (Lev. 25:23). The psalmist emphasizes this by saying, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it” (Ps 24:1). Not just a tithe or a tenth belongs to God – everything does. As David said, “But who am I and my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you and we have given you only what comes from your hand” (I Chron. 29:14).

2. We Are Stewards
At creation, God made human beings responsible for His creation: “Let us make man in our image...and let them rule...over all the earth” (Gen 1:26). And in the parable of talents, Jesus made clear that however small or great the gifts (not merely money) with which we have been blessed, He expects us to use them for His glory. “His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many thins, enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:21)

3. Money and Possessions Are A Powerful Temptation
Jesus said, “watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). Later He said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24). Paul also warned us on this point: “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (I Tim. 6: 9-10).

As we move through the capital campaign, yield yourself to the perspective that your personal assets and funds belong to God. If you do, you will be more successful. Since God owns everything , it is up to God to give. It is largely up to God to help make your life succeed. True, life is a joint divine human effort, but the divine is 100% in the driver’s seat. The attitude of gratitude that believes strongly in the goodness of God is the foundation for receiving and giving. If you do not feel blessed nor that God is caring for you, then it becomes a very negative experience to be asked to give. So practice every day the fundamental awareness that God is Good. Then expect and watch as God provides opportunities, supplies your needs, gives to you in abundance, protects and keeps you from harm and evil.

Let's Make the Point: The theology of giving is that giving issues out of grace not guilt. We give as a response to God’s giving first.

$100 Million Sermons for Capital Campaigns

David’s Campaign

I Chronicles 29
By Dr. Frank Berg, SGS, Inc

I Chronicles 29 could be characterized as the perfect capital campaign. King David asked Israel to give their wealth of gold, silver, precious stones, bronze, copper, etc. to raise gifts for the new temple. The whole campaign went very well. Why did the campaign go so well?  

I. David’s Campaign went well because they found the Right Motivation for Giving.

vs 1 – “The temple is not for man ...but for the Lord God”. The reasons they found for giving was to construct a building for God. The building would accommodate the following:
-A center for worship of God
-A pulpit to proclaim God’s Word
-An altar where sacrifices for sin can be made
-For choirs to sing and musicians to play Psalms and hymnody
-Classrooms where scholars can teach God’s laws to children, youth and adults

The highest and best motivation for giving is “for the Lord God”.

There are other lower motivations for giving. In a church where a capital campaign was developed, the pastor promised that if the people raised a certain dollar amount that he would let them shave his head. They reached that goal and he had his head shaved. He put pictures of the ordeal on the internet. Now, people gave because they wanted to see their pastor have his head shaved. His bald head was a symbol of their accomplishments. It was funny and all good, but not the highest motivation to give.

Or sometimes a person promises a matching gift for every dollar given. Again it is all good, but it is not the highest and best motive for giving.

A worse approach is to never challenge the church to give because we are afraid to offend people. I guess some people want a free ride because they never desire that we talk about giving. Indeed, the gift of eternal life is free but it is costly. Salvation sent Christ to the cross. So people should understand that there is a cost related to doing the work of Christ. Why are we in the church if we think it is going to cost us nothing.

The right solution is to find the right motivation for giving. We are excited and pumped about doing God’s work:- to establish a place where there is great preaching, praise and worship, where we can clap and raise our hands, greeting and hugging, fellowship, youth and children’s ministry, etc... all for God.

There should be no offense when we are invited to support the Lord’s work. The reason the campaign in Israel went so well is because Israel understood the right motivation for giving: “It is not for man but for the Lord God.”

II. David’s campaign went well because Israel found the Right Way to make a giving decision

verse 5: “Who then is willing to consecrate himself this day to the Lord”

verse 9: “Then the people rejoiced because they had offered so willingly, for they made their offering to the Lord which a whole heart, and Kind David also rejoiced greatly”

The steps to follow when making a giving decision are:

-Hear from God
-Have faith
-Find God’s will for your life
-Surrender to God’s will
-Be whole hearted

Or could I describe the right decision as based on reason and revelation. Reason is related to our income, budgets, it is tied to realism. Yet the right decision must include revelation which is related to prayer, faith, a sense that God is leading me to give this gift. 

In a capital campaign a visitor went to pick up a commitment card from an insurance professional who is a church member.  He rode the elevator to a high story in a very modern and prestigious building.

He stepped into the insurance professional’s office.  There were thick carpets, expensive furniture, an awesome view of the city.

The visitor said that he had come to receive the member’s giving decision.

The insurance professional said “he was not going to commit very much because he was a business man and everything needed business sense.  It did not make a whole lot of sense to give away money to a project he was not entirely in favor of.”

The visitor was slow to respond, but finally made his point by saying  “...As an insurance professional,  I thought you knew better.  You realize that such a small premium payment can hardly provide you with much protection.”

The insurance professional did not make his giving decision the right way.  It lacked consecrating himself to the Lord; it lacked prayer, faith, joy; it lacked an openness to what God was saying to him. 

So when you make a giving decision, the beginning point is to review your relationship with God and to consider your openness to God’s Spirit to change your thoughts and emotions.  

Israel found the right way to make their decision by consecrating themselves first to the Lord and then giving their gifts.

III.  David’s campaign went well because of Unity and Togetherness in Israel.   

vs 1–2 -  “Then King David said to the entire with all of my ability I have provided for the house of my God...”

vs 6 – “Then the rulers of the fathers’ households, and the princes of the tribes of Israel, and the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with the overseers over the king’s work, offered willingly”

So the leaders joined the King. Then the people joined to follow the king and the leaders. 

An opportunity is an opening or chance for something special to happen. 

We know that life has its perfect opportunities when you need to act.

·         To Start A business
·         To make an investment
·         To meet a person
·         To attend a school
·         To buy an item on sale

These are openings or chances for something special, but you need to act on it immediately or it will pass you by.

When is it the right time or perfect opening for churches to raise funds for their facilities? Often we think the opportunity to make an appeal is related to the economy – if the economy is good, you go for it; if the economy is bad, you don’t.  However, more significantly the right time or the opportunity to raise funds is related to unity, togetherness, common agreement.  When a church sees evidence that God is at work to bring faith and togetherness, that is the best time to raise funds.  The opportunity for something special to happen is when there is unity and togetherness in the church.  

David’s campaign in Israel provided an opportunity that rallied the whole congregation.  By joining together and acting together they accomplished a major goal.

IV.  David’s Campaign went well because they entered into Over and Above Extraordinary Generous Giving.

vs 3 – “And moreover, in my delight in the house of my God, the treasure I have of gold and silver, I give to the house of my God, over and above all that I have already provided for the holy temple...”

vss. 7-8 – “And for the service for the house of God they gave 5,000 talents and 10,000 darics of gold, and 10,000 talents of silvers, and 18,000 talents of brass, and 100,000 talents of iron.  And whoever possessed precious stones gave them to the treasury of the house of the Lord.”

A great financial and spiritual victory took place several years ago at Mill Creek Church who have plans to relocate about ten miles away to a new 7 acre parcel.   Garry Appelt, who is a lawyer that works with many First Nations in Northern Alberta and pilots his own airplane to service his clients, became our campaign chair.  I told Garry and others that the capital campaign would be fun, and if it isn’t fun why are we doing it.  As we moved through the campaign, Gary would say to me, “Frank when is the fun coming?  All we have had so far is hard work.”  I assured Gary that the fun was coming. 

This church has a German Congregation with their own German Pastor who live around their facility. The Germans put a lot of sweat equity into their church facilities and were in no mood to move.  Well, Gary did his best to encourage the German congregation to join in the capital campaign by going to their service and making a speech in German. He lunched with several of the German key leaders.  Over time the German community became more positive and started joining in the campaign. 

We estimated that the church could raise around $1.2 million over a three year period.  However, with all of the good forces that joined in to give us a great tail wind, the church ended up raising over $2.3 million.  The German people made a choice to move away from resistance and the status quo to extraordinary generous giving.  Of course, there was great rejoicing and people had to pinch themselves about the amazing fundraising results.  Gary finally in the end admitted that the campaign had been a barrel full of fun.  

Israel entered into extraordinary generous giving.   That is what happens when churches choose to have good will toward vision that is before them.  All I can tell you is that it is a choice to become supportive and generous. 

David’s campaign succeeded because the people found the:
  • right motivation for is for the Lord God
  • found the right way to make their decision...openness to the Lord’s leading and being faith filled
  • joined together for an opportunity to make an opening for something special to happen
  • entered into extraordinary generous giving by making a choice to have good will to the vision before them.   

Friday, March 16, 2012

Increasing Finances In Your Church

When Christians make giving decisions in a stewardship campaign which is the best vehicle to increase giving, there are several good steps to consider.


The Apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians about giving and he offered the following direction:

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week let each one of you put aside and save as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.” I Corinthian 16:1-2 “Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.: II Corinthians 9:7

There are four parameter lines that Paul suggested:

a. Regular Giving: Christians should establish a regular pattern of giving rather than hit or miss. Typically the pattern is systematic giving where a gift is given every week, or month, or as income is received

b. Cheerful: Giving is without pressure and comes out of the heart. Christians give out of gratitude for all the gifts that God has given and recognize that without God’s provision we have nothing.

c. Proportionate: We should give based upon our prosperity which means some can give more and some can only give a little. Christians are not asked to give something they do not have.

e. Planned or Purposeful Giving: Thoughtful or thought out giving is part of the process. Christians are to consider giving by looking at our budgets with a pencil and paper in hand to write down and check carefully what is possible.


Church people need guidance and visuals in order to decide their level of giving. Sometimes the reason people give so little is because they really don’t have a clue as to what is expected. Tithing which typically is projected as the standard amount for giving connotes 10%. 10% is easy to calculate, but it still has a vagueness or generality about it for many people. A gift plan with category amounts give people a chart to visually consider and prayerfully determine their part. Without a chart most people will decide to give less. What is expected helps increase the amount. The following are sample tools that will increase giving, i.e., gift plan, percentage giving chart, commitment work sheet, gift profile.

a. Gift Plan

100 Commitments

Initial Gift

Monthly Amt

Over 36 Months

Amount Given

Accumulative Total














































b. Percentage Gift Chart




Approximate Monthly Commitment

Proportionate to Income


























































































c. Gift Profile

AYZ Church, City, WA

Gift Profile

Commitments Needed to Raise $1,000,000

To Be Given Over 36 Months

Leadership Gifts: $500,000

# of Gifts------------Gift Level------------Total-----------Accumulative Total









42 Leadership Commitments for $560,000 or 56% of Total

Congregational Phase



120 Congregational Commitments for $449,or 45% of Goal

Total: 164 Commitments = $1,010,200

d. Giving Worksheet

The gifts we bring to the Lord in this campaign are our best and largest gifts. Therefore, it is helpful for us to do some figuring to

find the ways and means to our gifts. Consider your best as you fill out the following worksheet:

A. Cash, Equities and Assets: savings, insurance, stocks, property, vehicles, real estate, or other assets to be given


B. From Future Income: (calculate below)

Annual Income: $_________________ x 3 years $_________________________

Anticipated Increases: $­­_________________ x 3 years $_________________________

A + B TOTAL = $_________________________

-Maturing or Growing the Giving Decision-

Because a stewardship campaign is developed over a period of time, Christians will grow in their thinking about the amount that they plan to give. Where people begin in their thinking is not where people finish in the amount they plan to give. There is a process through which people can grow in their thinking and increase the final gift amount. The following are some process steps:

1. Begin by praying every day. “Lord, I want to give sacrificially. Now please show me how to give a gift that will stretch my faith.” If you’re married, pray together with your spouse.

2. Give yourself time. Do not rush your decision. You’ll find that the longer you genuinely pray “Show me how.” The more ways God will show you, and you’ll be able to give more than the first amount that popped into your head.

3. If you have a family, plan a family meeting to discuss ways to give. Ask your family members to be thinking of ideas in advance. Be sure to involve your children, no matter how young they are. This is a great opportunity to teach giving and faith.

4. At your family meeting, read one or more of the following Bible promises and instructions and make a list of what your learn: Proverbs 3:9-10; Proverbs 11: 24-25; Matt 6: 19-20; Luke 6:38; 1 Cor 16: 1-2; 2 Cor 8:1-12; 2 Cor 9:6-12

5. Also, ask yourselves aloud these questions:

  • Regarding your initial gift: How much cash could we gather?
  • Is there anything we could sell or convert to cash?
  • Do we have any tangible gift we could give?

Regarding our 36 month commitment:

  • Are there ways we could decrease our expenses in order to make a larger commitment?
  • Are there ways we could increase our income in order to make a larger commitment


· PRAY for God’s guidance with an open mind.

· ASK, “What does sacrificial giving mean to me?”

· STUDY Bible examples and principles of giving and stewardship.

· DEVELOP a tentative list of possible gifts.

· CONSIDER God’s leading with continued prayer.

· DECIDE and await confirmation from God, family and friends.

· REJOICE in the satisfaction of finding and following His will.

· MAKE your commitment cheerfully.

· FOLLOW THROUGH as God provides

-Three Questions-

Another method to increase finances in the church is to invite persons to consider three questions:

1. How much can we afford?

Answering this question means to consider the family budget and to determine if there is any discretionary income. Often the answer to this question is “Nothing”.

2. Is there anything we can sacrifice?

This question is about lifestyle giving which means to change our lifestyle and go without in order to find a way to make a giving commitment. Or to add additional work to one’s life by finding a part time job or start a business, etc. to raise funds.

3. What can we give if we have special faith?

A faith gift is beyond or own abilities. It is based upon prayer and the sense that God is leading in a way that we do not understand or can gauge. It is trusting God for more than what we can naturally project. Obviously a faith gift is not irrational or a hopeless amount to be given. At its core, a faith gift is to pray the stewardship question prayer which is “Lord, what is it that you want to do through us?” Christians believe that God reveals to them a number or dollar amount to be given. So then a faith gift is an adventure to discover how God will make it possible for the gift to be given.

There are other ways to increase giving in the church which are beyond the scope of this article, e.g., tax advantaged giving; charitable trusts; second mortgages; credit cards, foundations, grants, etc.