HIGHER THINKING BLOG

What's Your New Big Ministry Idea? By Patrick Johnson

What’s driving your new big ministry idea!

There are four big ideas that should be driving your big ministry idea: Compelling Strategy, Maximized Leverage, Bold Vision and Effective Mission.

These big ideas are an integral part of church life. In fact, it’s likely that you’ve talked about one or more of them as a part of your church’s vital conversations even in the past month.

And, all of these ideas share a common denominator: they necessitate fundraising.

Are you planning a new building? Do you have expanded vision for how to reach your community? What about a compelling missions program that is about to re-launch? How about your goal of having a budget that meets the staffing needs of your congregation?

I understand. These are very real, very present issues in the life of your church. They are integral to the wise leadership that you desire to provide.

An Adventurous Alternative

At GenerousChurch, a ministry created to equip leaders in churches to unleash generous disciples, we’ve talked to hundreds of pastors and leaders just like you. People who love Jesus and the people He’s put in their flock.

“You are not alone in your desire to see great things accomplished on behalf of the Kingdom.”

You are also not alone in your urge to accomplish the vision without having to initiate one more stewardship campaign, sermon, or conversation.

So what’s the alternative?

Well, it’s not a quick fix. But you knew that already.

Let’s start again—with the story of another big idea: adventurous discipleship.

Jimmy and Laura’s Story

When he was 19 years old, pastor Jimmy Siebert of Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas decided that he was going to read the Bible and do whatever Jesus said to do. By Chapter 6 of Matthew, he had forgiven everyone and given away all that he had. That’s the profound adventure of discipleship, right?

Now, more than 25 years later, he and his wife Laura have lived their entire lives out of the belief that, “there’s always enough…when we live simply, give generously, and work diligently.” The Sieberts have chosen to lean into Scripture’s teaching on radical generosity, placing giving as a main financial priority. Jimmy says, “The whole financial thing – that’s just a part of following Jesus. It was never a commitment to be radical financially. It was, ‘let’s obey Jesus, and wherever He takes us, it’s fine.’”

While they are far from prescriptive in their approach and careful to say that their choices reflect Jesus’ leading in their personal lives, Jimmy and Laura’s story is a simple testimony to the power of discipleship over programming. Because the Sieberts have been disciples of Jesus with their whole lives – money included – they have experienced tremendous adventure with God as a family.

“Don’t we all want that adventurous discipleship for those we serve?”

Don’t we want them to know the joy of following Jesus with their entire lives – heart, soul, mind, strength…and money? I can hear your wholehearted “yes!” even as I type!

But where do those other big ideas lead us? If we’re not careful, our pull toward strategy, mission, vision, and planning can lead to one place: fundraising, and fundraising will wear you out, if you’re not careful.

Common Finance Solutions

In my work with churches, I notice a lot of effort around what I call conventional “KVC” solutions: knowledge, vision, and capital.  It often goes something like this:

  • “If we can just teach the people about biblical money management, they will give more.” (Knowledge)
  • “If I can just cast a compelling vision in the sermon on Sunday or in the church’s annual report, they will give more.” (Vision)
  • “If we launch a new capital campaign, people will get excited about a new project. They will give more.” (Capital)

But isn’t it true that programming around these kinds of solutions causes us to feel more like fundraisers or CEOs than like shepherds or pastors? KVC solutions can lead to the stress and conflict associated with money rather than to the thrill of seeing people in the pews learn that money is just a heart-transformation mechanism that God uses in the discipleship adventure.

So, what’s your “big idea”? Is it knowledge, vision, or capital? Or is it something else – something that sets the tone for discipleship to be unleashed – all the way to the last stewardship stronghold: the pocketbook?

If you want to learn more about a generosity reset in your church, download my free ebook, Generosity Reset, and read more about how you can move from programming to discipleship in your church!

I hope you will join us for a generosity reset in your church. We want to help you change the big idea from fundraising to discipleship. From giving to adventure.

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Patrick Johnson is founder of GenerousChurch™, a nonprofit organization dedicated to equipping leaders in churches to unleash whole-life generous disciples. For the last fourteen years, Patrick has contributed to the message of biblical generosity through organizations such as Generous Giving and The National Christian Foundation. His latest resource is entitled Overflow: A Life Refreshed by Generosity.

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