Giving and Stewardship in an Effective Church: A Guide for Every Member

Giving and Stewardship in an Effective Church: A Guide for Every Member

by Kennon L. Callahan

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How to put a church on solid financial footing--a motivational and informational account of Callahan's twelfth key that asserts money is not the first issue of stewardship.


How to put a church on solid financial footing--a motivational and informational account of Callahan's twelfth key that asserts money is not the first issue of stewardship.

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HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
5.79(w) x 8.59(h) x 0.66(d)

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Chapter One

Mission and Giving

Living is giving. This is the first principle for giving. We live life best as we give our strengths, gifts, and competencies in the service of God's mission. We are called to serve, not survive. Our giving makes a difference in our families, our work, our community, our world, and our church.

    We want our lives to count. We want to make a difference. We do not want to spend and waste our lives in flimsy, foolish ways. We want the confidence that we are living for a cause that counts. Our lives count best when we direct them to the mission of God.

    The mission of God is eternal. Civilizations rise and fall, empires come and go, new beginnings emerge—but the mission of God goes on forever. As the twenty-first century stretches before us, the possibilities for mission are extraordinary.

    Mission is more important than money. This does not diminish, deprecate, nor deny the value of money. Money is important. It is a means by which a portion of God's mission is advanced. Gaining a constructive perspective invites understanding the relationship between mission and money. It is important to keep an appropriate balance between the two. And it is crucial to never let money become more important than mission.

    A clear vision of mission will be decisive in fostering your congregation's capacity for giving. Two things are true of congregations:

• Congregations never have enough money.

• Congregations have all the money they reallyneed for God's mission.

    In mission congregations, there is never enough money. In growing congregations, there is never enough money. These congregations are always giving away more money than they have. They are always living at the edge of their resources.

    Similarly, declining and dying congregations never have enough money either, but for an entirely different reason. These congregations have forgotten mission. People do not give generously to congregations that have allowed mission to recede into the background. When the focus of meeting after meeting is primarily on getting enough money to balance the budget, people's generous impulses wither.

    God calls congregations to mission. Churches that become preoccupied with money have lost their way. They have lost their integrity by their narrow focus on money. Such congregations do just enough mission to delude themselves that they have not lost their way. But their central preoccupations are with money, membership, and maintenance.

    Congregations with a vision of mission will have all the money they really need. Although it will seem as though there is not enough money, it nonetheless will be sufficient for the mission.

    Money follows mission, not the reverse. This is a shorthand way of saying that the stronger the congregation's relational characteristics, the easier it is to raise money. The stronger the congregation's mission, visitation, worship, groupings, leadership, and decision making, the stronger the giving.

    Of the twelve characteristics consistently present in effective congregations, six are relational (person-centered) characteristics and six are functional (organizational) characteristics, as can be seen in Table 1.1.

    I often am invited to help congregations—some almost on the verge of bankruptcy—to develop more solid financial resources. Our first step is to see which relational characteristics are already strong. Second, we decide which relational characteristics can be added as new strengths. Third, we consider which functional characteristics will help. Finally, when these areas have been addressed, we focus on building solid financial resources. The stronger the relational characteristics, the easier it is to increase giving.

    People will give more for mission than for maintenance. When you grow the mission, the money will come—and it will be sufficient for the mission.

    We do the mission for the integrity of the mission. Mission is the goal in itself. The purpose of mission is not to acquire money. The strength of the mission draws the money. The stronger the mission, the more people give.


1. Specific, concrete missional objectives 
7. Several competent programs  and activities
2. Pastoral/lay visitation in the community 
8. Open accessibility of  church, leaders, and pastor
3. Corporate, dynamic worship
9. High visibility of church in community
4. Significant relational groupings
10. Adequate parking, land, and landscaping
5. Strong leadership resources
11. Adequate space and facilities 
6. Solid, participatory decision making
12. Solid financial resources

Table 1.1

    This book is about giving and stewardship. Giving increases in direct proportion to the strength of the mission. Therefore, may your heart be in God's mission.

    Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Matt. 6:21

And where your heart is, there will be your treasure also.

    Grow the mission. Grow the giving. Keep your focus on these two central objectives. Your life will be richer and fuller. The mission of your congregation will be stronger and more powerful.

    Sometimes, people think the stumbling block to growing mission is money—or rather, the lack of money. Someone will inevitably say, "We can't do that; we don't have enough money." When congregations grow the mission, the giving comes. Grow your mission, and God will supply the money for the mission.

    Sometimes a stumbling block can be people's natural hesitation and timidity about asking for money. They are uncertain and ambivalent and thereby lose many opportunities to advance the giving and generosity of the congregation. When you are confident of your mission, you become confident in asking for money.

    The central purpose of this book is to help you discover the ways you can strengthen your own giving and the giving of your congregation. As you grow the mission, you will grow the giving. And as you grow the giving, you will be in a stronger position to focus your best energies on the mission.

    The following four steps for giving are each covered in depth in later sections of this book.

1. Grow the principles for giving. There are seven principles for giving—and for living as well—namely, living is giving, people give to a winning cause, people have a spirit of generosity, people live forward toward positive expectancies, who asks who is decisive, people give to people, and have fun and live in Christ.

2. Develop the possibilities for giving. Six sources of giving are available to you and your congregation, namely, spontaneous giving, major community worship giving, special planned giving, short-term giving, annual giving, and enduring giving.

3. Advance the motivations for giving. These five motivations—compassion, community, challenge, reasonability, and commitment—plus positive reinforcement, are important.

4. Build your understanding of stewardship. God calls us to be good stewards in a most decisive time.

    These four steps for giving are really also steps for mission. Study them and implement them. Individuals and congregations who practice these steps can advance their funding for outreach and mission. In turn, they will become strong, vital mission congregations, sharing their leadership and resources richly and fully in evangelism and mission.

    Giving is living. These steps for giving are also steps for living. They will help you gain strength of purpose in your life and will assist you in your interactions with your family, your friends, the people you work with, and those you come into contact with in day-to-day life.

    By implementing these four steps, individuals and congregations can advance their own generosity and the generosity of the group. The following chapters share practical suggestions and wisdom for applying these steps. As you follow these steps, you will grow the giving for the mission.

    The following study possibilities can aid in your exploration of the four steps of giving:

• Lead a congregational study in the fall, winter, or spring.

• Invite your adult classes and other adult groupings to study this book.

• Focus on one of the steps in your board meetings and/or other key leader group meetings.

• Share in a Mission and Giving Discovery Retreat, which can
help people discover their longings toward mission and giving.

• Invite your finance committee to study this book.

• Lead a study group of campaign workers and key leaders prior to a giving campaign.

You will discover many other study possibilities. Tell people in your congregation that studying this book will be helpful to them in their mission, their life, their family, and their church.

    After studying these steps, develop an action plan for implementing them. Take into account how they can best be applied in your own life and in your congregation. Keep the following guidelines in mind when developing your plan:

    • Competencies

    • Value in the community

    • Having fun

    • Promise for your future mission

    • God's calling for you

    In which of the four steps do your best competencies and strengths lie? Build on these strengths to grow forward. By doing better what you do best, you will be in the strongest position to tackle your weaknessess. If you begin with your weaknesses, you will be in the weakest position to tackle them.

    Evaluate which of these four steps you are already doing reasonably well. Then advance and improve them so they are strong and excellent.

    In what ways can these four steps for giving have added value in your community? A congregation teaches its members certain attitudes and behavior patterns about giving. A congregation also teaches groups in the community certain values about money. You can help community groups learn constructive attitudes, values, and behavior patterns concerning giving.

    Which of the four steps would you have fun advancing first? Select first the steps that you would genuinely enjoy working on as a leader, pastor, or congregation.

    Which steps have promise for the future mission of your congregation? Look ahead to the coming years. Advance first those steps that will strengthen your life and give momentum to your congregation. In this way you will advance the promise of your future mission.

    Select the two giving steps you can implement now. Improve on your "best shots." Grow and develop them. Then focus on the remaining steps. By using this developmental strategy, you will significantly advance your own life and giving. You will help your congregation realize its promise and grow in generosity in its mission and its giving.

    In what ways is God's calling inviting you to grow your living and your giving? In what ways is God's calling leading your congregation forward in mission and giving?

    God's calling comes to us in many ways. Sometimes the calling comes to us in those areas we do best. Sometimes we hear the calling through our anxieties and anticipations. Sometimes we discover God's calling through other people. Sometimes God's calling comes to us directly. As you study the four steps for giving, listen for God's calling in your life.

    The first step is to grow the principles for giving. These are principles for living life to its fullest. These principles help with both living and giving.

Excerpted from Giving and Stewardship in an Effective Church by Kennon L. Callahan. Copyright © 1992 by Kennon L. Callahan. Excerpted by permission.

Meet the Author

KENNON L. CALLAHAN, PH.D. -researcher, professor, and pastor-is one of today's most sought-after church consultants. He has worked with thousands of congregations around the world and has helped tens of thousands of church leaders and pastors through his dynamic workshops and seminars. Author of many books, he is best known for his groundbreaking study Twelve Keys to an Effective Church, which has formed the basis for the Mission Growth Movement, a widely acclaimed program for church renewal. Callahan has earned the B.A., M.Div., S.T.M., and Ph.D. degrees. His doctorate is in Systematic Theology. He has served both rural and urban congregations in Ohio, Texas, and Georgia and taught for many years at Emory University. Ken and his wife of over forty years, Julie, have two children, Ken and Mike, and three grandchildren, Blake, Mason, and Brice. They enjoy the outdoors, hiking, horseback riding, and camping.

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