Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

228th Annual Conference 2012 – Stewardship

I know this might not be read by many but I believe this is very important for our church right now! I will ask the leaders of our church to discuss this post.

Clif Christopher is speaking today at annual conference about stewardship. He reminded us that the church has a product – a changed life. If people are not finding a changed life they will not return to “purchase” your product.

Finance Committees and Church Councils shouldn’t ask “where can we cut the budget” when giving doesn’t match the expenses. They should ask “why is our product not changing lives”. Is the children’s program changing lives? Is the youth ministry changing lives? Are the sermons changing lives? Is the discipleship ministry changing lives? Are the pastors – staff and laity helping to change lives for Jesus? Are we asking the right questions in committee meetings? Are we seeking ways to “reach everyone for Christ”.

GM wouldn’t have faced the problems they did if they would have realized that the people wanted small cars with great MPG rates. Instead they kept building large gas hogs. Not until they realized what the people were seeking did they start to grow again.

Some former pastor at Mt. Oak use to say “if money is the problem – money is not the problem”. It is the product we are selling that makes a difference folks. If there is a money problem – we need to examine the product.

Clif shared some thoughts with us around stewardship. First he said that clergy must tithe. They must tithe and they must share with their congregation that they tithe – not by using that word – but by sharing the dollars and cents! The example he used was for us to tell our congregation that you give me $50,000 as your pastor and I want you to know that I will be returning $5,000 of that to the church to support the ministry we do together. “The sheep ain’t going where the shepherd ain’t leading”.

Clif said that we need to have high expectations of the church. He talked about church membership – and how we need to make being a member of the church something serious. Membership is about making disciples. One of the largest churches in our denomination has 1,600 members but an average attendance on the weekend of 5,000 plus. When asked about the membership totals the pastor said “we may have 5,000 on the weekend but we have 1,600 fired up disciples. Membership and discipleship should be the same! Some churches only need people to be able to “fog a mirror” to join the church.

Clif said that pastor must know the giving of the congregants. I’ll wait a few moments for that to sink in to your thoughts. The discipline of our church says pastors can do this. Clif said that to not know this important piece of information hinders the pastor as they strive to lead. Giving – although not the only benchmark – is a significant benchmark. As a pastor – we are called to help nominate and support leaders of the church who are committed to Christ and to take this significant benchmark away from the pastor hinders their ability to raise up leaders.

Clif said that we need to pay attention to three pockets of giving in the church. We do a great job with annual giving – passing the plate most every week in front of our membership. Where we often fail is in capital giving and planned giving. Clif said that we should always have a vision of where the church is headed and to have this before the people. Even if we do not have a current building program we should have a vision of where we believe God is leading us and with an idea of the costs. He said “if someone came up to you (pastors or church leaders) and offered you $100,000 or even $1,000,000 and you hesitate in being able to explain where you would use it – you are behind”. Planned giving is about estates – about legacies.  Do we even talk to our members about remembering their church in their wills?  Is that too hard for some to consider?  People leave money to colleges and other non-profits all the time.  Why isn’t the church talking about this way of funding their ministry?

Clif said that our Finance Chairs and committees should be people who have been on the Emmaus Road – and that this was more important than having people who have walked on Wall Street. If our leaders walk on Wall Street that will help us balance our budgets. If our leaders walk on the Emmaus Road – they are more likely to help us “reach everyone for Jesus”. Of course – if you have walked both roads – all the better.

Clif reminded pastors to say thank you to those who give – money and time. He told us to write 10 thank you cards a week – and in a year we will have sent out 520 thank yous. The non-profits of the world will send you a free book for a $50 donation – a radio for a $100 donation – and so forth. In the church we often do NOTHING to thank those who give to support the ministry we strive to accomplish for Jesus.

This post has gotten very large. I hope you have taken the time to read it. I would be very interested in what you think of it. Please respond!


May 31, 2012 - Posted by | Church, Denomination, Encouragement, Evangelism, From the Pastor, Vision | ,


  1. Thanking God for you getting this message. Everyone wants to feel the work they do for the church is appreciated.

    I love the line “Our product is a changed LIFE” PRICELESS!!!

    Be blessed as you continue to learn and grow for your church!


    Comment by Pam Lowry | May 31, 2012 | Reply

    • Pam – thank you once again for the words of encouragement. I liked that line too. I am praying for our leadership at Mt. Oak to work together to help to change lives – ours and others – for Jesus! Our second part of our mission statement says – to build people up in their knowledge and understanding of Christ and we want to be about changing lives!


      Comment by raymcdonald | May 31, 2012 | Reply

  2. I changed life. Isn’t that the result you are looking for with Mt. Oak’s vision and mission Pastor Ray? Something about a changed life or changed family? I like this post and will pass it on to others.


    Comment by Mary | May 31, 2012 | Reply

    • Thank you Mary. A changed life is what it is all about! You have the result of our focus through our vision and mission statements – a changed life or changed family for Christ!


      Comment by raymcdonald | May 31, 2012 | Reply

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