church stewardship

Book Review: God vs. Money by Clif Christopher

In his book, God vs. Money, Horizons’ founder, Clif Christopher draws on his experience as a member of the US Army to create a powerful metaphor intended to examine a potent enemy of the church—greed. In his typical direct, take-no-prisoners communication style,... read more

An Interview with Horizons’ Founder, Clif Christopher

Since its inception, Clif Christopher has been on the frontline in responding to Horizons’ clients about church capital campaigns. Providing timely and insightful counsel to pastors and lay leaders is at the heart of Horizons’ mission to guide churches on their... read more

Are You Building Disciples?

One of the questions I get asked most often is, “How will a Capital Campaign affect my weekly offerings?” The answer is simple, but not necessarily easy. As your members prayerfully listen to God’s leading and become more generous, you should see your ministry budget... read more

The Sabbath of Stewardship

Sabbath rest was instituted as a symbol of the true rest to come in Christ.   The entire purpose of the Bible and the working of God in human history have one theme: bringing humanity back into His rest. Recently, I found myself in need of a Sabbath rest.  The many... read more

Stewardship on Easter Sunday

Have you ever considered preaching a stewardship message on Easter? During Easter Sunday worship, I heard the scripture lesson from Luke 24:5 (NRSV) in a new way: The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look... read more

Understanding God’s Blessings

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.  Romans 1:20 NIV As a person who has spent the majority of her life... read more

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Book Review: God vs. Money by Clif Christopher

In his book, God vs. Money, Horizons’ founder, Clif Christopher draws on his experience as a member of the US Army to create a powerful metaphor intended to examine a potent enemy of the church—greed. In his typical direct, take-no-prisoners communication style, Christopher proclaims the theater of combat is our society that saturates our daily lives with messages of needing more stuff. Christopher uses “war language” to convey the importance of defeating the most significant deterrent to building disciples in our churches and ultimately funding the church’s mission.

 

Christopher says, “I truly believe that we must take the attack upon our Christian values by a greedy, self-serving society very seriously.”

 

Clif Christopher, who is an ordained minister of The United Methodist Church, pushes heavily on pastors to act as “drill instructors” who should model for others a generous life. Despite being subject to the same barrage of messages from the enemy, pastors must resist temptation and live a generous life. Pastors should be able to preach and teach biblical stewardship principles and draw from personal and authentic experiences.

 

Pastors are drill instructors who should model for others a generous life.

In subsequent chapters, Christopher expands on his metaphor to describe strategies for defeating the enemy in “the combat zone.” Fighting against the “you can have it all” mentality, the church must face the enemy head-on and counter the message of more is better. In God vs. Money, Christopher provides ample tools that can be immediately applied in every church to defeat the enemy grow disciples.

 

God vs. Money is a must-read for every pastor, stewardship chair, finance committee member, and church leader who wants to meet greed on the battlefield and reclaim biblical stewardship principles.

 

Here’s what church leaders are saying about God vs. Money:

Clif Christopher has done it again! In his usual direct and clear way, Clif calls the church and its leaders to engage the struggle of “God vs. Money” head on in a faithful and discipled way. I recommend this book as a “must read” for clergy and lay leaders alike who wish to lead congregations into lives of generosity and grace.

 

Carl Frazier, Jr., Lead Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Cary, North Carolina.

 

Books do not always mirror their author’s intent, God vs. Money does! Christopher’s book reads like a jeremiad. It is a “call to arms.”  It is challenging clergy and congregations to declare war against the cultural god Mammon. It is also a training manual for growing generous congregations and disciples: people who make worship a priority, prayer a daily practice, giving testimony a way of living, community service a moral obligation and tithing a requirement of church membership. Read and imagine how such congregations might alter the landscape of a community…even the world.

 

Bill Enright, Emeritus Founding Executive Director of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving at the Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. Former Senior Pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis. Bill is the author of Kitchen Table Giving: Reimagining How Congregations Connect With Their Donors.

 

For those of us who have learned from him for many years, this book is vintage Christopher! Again he shares very practical wisdom about the gospel, the church and money in an extended metaphor of spiritual warfare. Its sense of urgency for the mission of the church is compelling!

 

Scott Jones, Bishop, Texas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church

 

God vs. Money is a must read battle plan for pastors and lay leaders who need to confront the ‘God of Materialism.’ It will equip them to discredit a god who preaches that all you need for happiness and fulfillment is a credit card and lots of stuff. It will help them focus their preaching or teaching on the God of Jesus who lived a spirit of generosity.

 

Charles Cloughen, Jr, Episcopal Priest, Planned Giving Officer-Diocese of Maryland, and author of One Minute Stewardship: Creative Ways to Talk About Money in Church.

 

[God vs. Money] is an excellent book and Clif is so on with what he is talking about. I do a lot of Sunday morning sermons on Stewardship and Generosity in churches all over the state of Nebraska. One of the first things that I remind them of is that everything they possess is God’s. I had a gentleman come up to me several weeks ago, and he thank me for the “pearls of wisdom” and for reminding him of what he has is God’s. He told me that he had forgotten that and it was good to be reminded.

I have several of Clif’s books and often use them as references in my talks. The church IS in dire trouble because they have forgotten why they give! Excellent, excellent book. I enjoy reading his books because they are easy to read, and he lays it out. You never have to guess trying to read between the lines. To the point and clear! I have always admired that about the way he writes. I most certainly endorse this book, and I will be purchasing one for the office.

 

Anita Crisp, Executive Director, Nebraska United Methodist Foundation

 

Clif Christopher is not only my “go to guy” when it comes to the stewardship of money, he’s also a long-time friend. I’ve read every book he’s written and each time I think it’s his best one. God vs. Money is no different. It’s a winner! Clif utilizes his experience as a pastor and chaplain in the military to lay out a life plan for raising up generous disciples. He declares war on the ungrateful life. You don’t want to miss this one.

 

Bill Easum, Founder and President of The Effective Church Group and author of over 21 books including co-authoring Dinosaur to Rabbits: Turning Mainline Decline to a Multiplication Movement.

 

Announcing a FREE eGiving webinar by Horizons’ Richard Rogers

Richard Rogers is an author, church fundraising expert, and Vice President at Horizons. On Tuesday, August 7th at 10 a.m. PT / 11 a.m. MT / 12 p.m. CT / 1 p.m. ET, Richard will share his insights during his webinar, “eGiving is for every church.” Richard will discuss how eGiving will transform finances in your church—regardless of the size of your budget!

Join Richard, author of The eGiving Guide for Every Church, and GivePlus for this informative webinar that will demystify eGiving and show you how simple it is to get started. Richard is an expert in the field working with churches in fundraising and generosity coaching for Horizons Stewardship.

GivePlus eGiving Ambassador Richard Bauer will join Richard Rogers for this in-depth exploration of how eGiving can benefit your church. Click here to register.

An Interview with Horizons’ Founder, Clif Christopher

Since its inception, Clif Christopher has been on the frontline in responding to Horizons’ clients about church capital campaigns. Providing timely and insightful counsel to pastors and lay leaders is at the heart of Horizons’ mission to guide churches on their journey to achieve their mission. In anticipation of the release of Clif’s latest book, God vs. Money, I invited Clif to share his insights on some commonly-asked questions.

 

Common Mistakes

Kristine: What are some common mistakes churches make when considering the size of their church capital campaign projects?

 Clif: Often churches fail to maximize their giving potential. For example, a pastor recently told me about the growth and enthusiasm expressed in his church regarding a $1,000,000 building project. The church’s budget was $750,000. Given the excitement surrounding the project, it seemed to me the church could likely raise more. I suggested the church look at other needs and consider adding them to the project and have our team assess the congregation’s overall support. Assuming the support is there, this church has the ability to conduct a more ambitious campaign and raise more money for the kingdom.

 

Timing of a Capital Campaign

Kristine: When is the best time to conduct a church capital campaign?

 Clif: The short answer is the best time to conduct a church capital campaign is when the vision is clear and the congregation is rallied behind the vision. However, some churches are too eager to break ground and end up eliminating a lot of the giving momentum. If you break ground before the campaign, you take away people’s ability to participate in helping your dream become reality. Breaking ground before the campaign will result in getting  a building sooner, but you will have far less resources to pay for it. Also, it will be three years before you can conduct another campaign—and that will likely be for debt. Be patient and wait to break ground when you are ready to celebrate the conclusion of a successful capital campaign.

 

Estate Gifts

Kristine: Should capital projects be paid for using estate gifts?

 Clif: Generally, this is not a good idea. Using legacy gifts for capital projects removes the responsibility of the church to help people mature in Christ through more generous giving. Estate gifts should be used to strengthen an endowment fund that enlarges the ministry and mission the church is called to do. It should never replace what present members are capable of and called to do. Have a campaign for the project you feel God is calling you to do, and then use the proceeds from the estate gift to move the church beyond that building and into life changing ministry.

 

Staff Positions and Missions Work

Kristine: Should churches consider adding staff positions or missions work to their campaign funding needs?

 Clif: The problem is you are hoping to leverage enthusiasm for a building project to get money for staffing and missions. These expenses should be funded through the annual budget rather than included in a church capital campaign. Lumping capital needs in with operating expenditures is most often a bad idea. People may resent having a portion of their donations designated to expenses other than capital, and they may choose to withhold their giving. Also, funding a staff position through a three-year capital campaign creates a significant problem after the giving period is over. How will this staff position be funded in year four? If you need to fund a staff position or support a mission endeavor, include these expenses in your annual budget and invite people to support it.

 

Leadership Support

Kristine: How important is it for the pastor and church leadership to express their support of the church capital campaign?

 Clif: Well how important is leadership in any arena? It is critical! If the boss showed up late for work and only showed interest in coffee breaks, would the employees exceed his passion? If a coach was not that committed to practice and winning, would the players give their all? Church members are very in tune with what leaders are serious about. They listen to hear what their pastor feels is at the core of Christian life. Specifically, they listen to hear whether church leaders just want money to pay bills or if they truly believe that generosity is vital to discipleship and living a fulfilled life. It is very important every pastor share their plans for giving every year and why they are making that choice. Members concerned about being a disciple will follow.

 

High Capacity Donors

Kristine: In God vs. Money, you suggest that pastors should build relationships with their high capacity donors. Why is this important?

 Clif: As church leaders, we must stop seeing and relating to persons blessed with wealth as different from others blessed with unique talent and abilities that can be used for Kingdom work. If we knew a person with exceptional musical talent, we would be derelict if we did not spend time with them exploring how that talent might be used. Same goes for educational ability or leadership ability. One key job of a pastor is to help persons use the gifts God has given them for God’s work. This is no less true for those few who have been blessed with wealth. They need and deserve our time to assist them in fulfilling God’s calling on their life. This simply does not happen by speaking in generalities from a pulpit. It happens through relationship and personal attention.

I clearly remember the multi-millionaire who shared how grateful he was for the extensive conversations a college president had with him that helped him determine how to use his vast amounts of money following the sale of his business. When I asked this active church member if any pastor had ever sat down with him and had a stewardship conversation, he said, “No, Clif, you know that preachers do not like to talk about money!”

 

Clif’s books include Not Your Parents’ Offering PlateRich Church Poor Church, and several others. His new book, God vs. Money, is now available on Kindle and will soon be released in hardcopy by Abingdon Press.

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