Thursday, April 20, 2017

Count the Cost

For the past several weeks I have been leading a course of the Financial Peace University. My wife and I took the course several years ago and it was an eye opener. I would encourage everyone who reads this to immediately sign up for the course. It is amazing. We will be joining another church in hosting another one this summer… sign up and show up.

Though I took Algebra, Plane Geometry, Solid Geometry, Trigonometry and Statistics in high school, I have never been real good at old fashioned arithmetic. I find writing a budget to be challenging. Following it is easy but getting it all on paper is no fun at all. But there is such wisdom in making a plan… especially a plan for your money. It is especially empowering when you adjust your spending to fit the plan you have for your life. As Christians, we are called to live differently than others and that includes our spending, saving and giving. Living differently in how we deal with money will NOT happen if we don’t plan for it. It just won’t.

There is great wisdom in planning. Before beginning any project, ministry, building or implementing a new idea we need to make a plan. Jesus put it like this: "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' (Luke 14:28-30) If we take Jesus seriously, which we rarely do, most of us are ridiculous. We just rush through life with little thought or planning, bouncing from one thing to another, one project to another, one person to another, one interest to another and, in the end, wonder what we have done or accomplished.

I see this same phenomenon in churches. We rush from one ministry to another, following one promising idea after another, without a clear mission, vison or clearly stated long-term goals. Like the culture in which we exist, the church seeks to be “relevant” and with it. And we wander from our mission and calling. BTW, our calling is to make disciples… to produce fully functioning mature Christians.

In the life of the church, a mission or a ministry might be suggested; it sounds good so we immediately engage and rush into it. The first issue that must be addressed and question that must be asked is, “Is this what God wants us to do?” Unfortunately, that is a very difficult question to answer. The proposal must to looked at in the context of the mission of the church – does it fit – does it help us fulfil the church’s mission? Though it is a theological catch phrase, we really do need to pray about it and listen intently for God’s guidance. Doing this takes time, patience and some quiet reflection.

Next, before beginning a new ministry, the church must count the cost. Can we do this with excellence? Not perfection, but excellence. All we do is in the name of God and we certainly don’t want to represent God as in the business of sloppy, crappy ministry. After seeking God’s leading, I follow a simple formula when considering if we can, in fact, implement a ministry. It is: Vision + Resources = Ministry. If it fits your vision, then you must honestly look at your resources to see if you can do the ministry well. A church’s resources are: talents, energy, availability of personnel, time, money and facilities. If you have enough of these to do the ministry with excellence, go for it. If not, begin praying for God to provide your needs. Expect Him to and when He does, move ahead.

Don’t just move ahead and presume God is going to fill in with what you need. There is a fine line between faith and presumption. If you are tuned in God follower, you will know when to move ahead on faith and when to wait.

This is a topic I often consider because I serve a church that is strong in the desire to do ministry and weak in the resources to get those ministries done. I have a great bunch of people but we tend to lack the needed energy to do some desired ministries. I am praying for God to send resources – talented, energetic, committed people. Is God speaking to you about doing some ministry in the life of the Norwood Christian Church? Just askin’.

Copyright © 2017, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved

Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

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