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The title of this article seems very pessimistic.  But the purpose is actually to be optimistic.

As I point out problems with church leadership that causes benefactors to withhold funding to your church, I really mean to point out ways that we can grow and adapt.  It’s not cynicism I’m putting forward, but encouragement to change.

drivingSo consider whether any of these issues describe you.  It was out of the mouth of a benefactor himself that I heard these criticisms about church leadership in general.  If you do find something lacking in yourself, ask the Holy Spirit to make you stronger to better do His work.

And please understand, I’m not making this call to action simply because we want benefactors’ money.  That’s greed.

This call to action is organized the way it is because business people can see aspects of the American church’s mission that our church leaders are blinded to.  They don’t get to criticize just because they have money.  They get to criticize because of their life experience and wisdom in matters of vision and implementation.

Ask the #HolySpirit to make you stronger to better do His work. Click To Tweet

Your Mission is Not Big Enough

We all have the Great Commission, which is the tallest order given to us by Jesus.  It is world-wide in scope and impossible (without God) in difficulty.

But so often the missions of our church do not reflect that grandiosity.

Small to medium size churches are content to baptize 20 people a year and send someone to seminary every few years.  Maybe even send out a missionary.

Even our large to mega churches set their goals to grow to be 1,000 or 5,000.  I admit, this sounds big even to me.

But let me give you an example of a scope of ministry that is worthy to give $1 million or $5 million to – BILD, International is a network of churches whose leadership resides in Ames, IA.  Through their church-based theological education system1, BILD, Intl will train 10,000,000 leaders by 2020.

Yeah.  You read that right.  10 million world-wide, church-planting, degree-holding, self-multiplying church leaders.

After having done the math, someone said that BILD, Intl, in one generation, will train more leaders than Billy Graham ever even preached to in his lifetime.

And if you doubt the legitimacy of these leaders, take a look at this brochure to see what the Antioch School is all about.

This is a mission worth giving to.  If your church is not in a position to completely change your vision to be as global in scope, then participate with BILD, Intl.  Here is how you can be a part of it.

When the vision is big enough (say, 10 million leaders in 5 years), a benefactor can see the great spiritual return on his investment.  Anyone can see that it’s worth it.

You Haven’t Proven Your Ability to Execute

What do your leadership meetings look like?

Do you feel like you get bogged down in the weeds very often?  Do you feel like you’re hitting your head against the wall?

legsAre you all just talking about the amazing things you could do?

Business leaders are in a very special place to recognize that talk is cheap.  If they don’t produce results, they personally go bankrupt and people lose jobs.

Become a leader who can get things done.

Don’t just talk about what opportunities you have.  Act on them.  Be bold.  Cut through the (am I allowed?) bull****, and make things happen.

Become a prime executor.  It takes great personal risk, but our faith is dangerous at its very nature.

The Holy Spirit did not give you a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.  Do it all through His power.

Become a #leader who can get things done. #faith #church Click To Tweet

If you don’t, you’re just a talker.  And a benefactor’s spiritual gift is giving, and it should be used to advance God’s Kingdom.  He would be wasting his gifts if he gave money to you to enable you to continue talking without advancing God’s Kingdom.

You Do Well with Theology, But Ignore Other Aspects of Life

In American churches, we tend to do really well when it comes to what we call spiritual matters – defining the gospel, systematic theology, engaging our personal relationship with Christ, training people to understand the Scriptures, etc.

At the very least, those things are important to us, and we work hard at them.

But we ignore a very large portion of our lives if we only talk about the “spiritual” stuff.

In an older article, I explain how there is no dichotomy between spiritual and secular.  Our work, our public lives, our leisure, our citizenship, and on and on.  Those are all included when Paul instructs us to “offer our bodies as a living sacrifice”.  Offering our whole bodies is offering our whole lives.  If we only offer ourselves to God only when we pray or go to church, then it’s not really giving God our entire lives.

DeathtoStock_Medium4But the problem is our churches don’t spend much time on these subjects.  Maybe a token nod to workplace evangelism, but it hardly gets at truly engaging spiritual principles into our very work.

Business owners need to learn how to run their businesses according to Kingdom principles.  They need to learn why their work is significant on an eternal level.  It’s not just a necessary evil which will put food on their tables and money into the church’s hands.

So our churches must engage every area of our lives.  When we ignore them, we communicate that those other spheres are unimportant.  And the businessman learns that his work is ultimately irrelevant to the work of the church.

May it never be so.

You Do Well in Your Church, But Ignore the City

You’ve got a men’s ministry, a women’s ministry, a youth group, a single’s bible study, a prayer group, Vacation Bible School, Awana, in-house book store and coffee shop, and a killer worship team.

And 3.5% of your budget goes toward missions.  And only 5% goes to local altruistic work.

blue jacketWe cannot just build ourselves up and ignore the very people who need the gospel most in our cities.  A token nod is not enough.  We can’t just do a soup kitchen once a month and feel good about ourselves.

I know of a church in North Carolina that has what they call a “5x project”.  Their budget is broken down to where they spend 5 times more to take care of people in their city and on missions than they do on their own operating costs.

5 times.

And money is only part of the issue – the work is really the main point.

Our churches should be participating in meeting urgent needs, which are defined by your local context.  Maybe your city needs solutions for homelessness, mental health, affordable housing, etc.  The church can be part of those solutions.  Seeking the welfare of the city is a good in itself and our churches must be involved.

No one wants to give to an organization which bolsters up its own programs but does not actually help the people in need.

Our #churches should be participating in meeting urgent needs. Click To Tweet


Benefactors understand the importance of returns on investments.  In the case of benefactors in the church, the returns are not personal gain, but spiritual gain.  The giving has to be worth its weight in helping the church to fulfill the Great Commission.

Moreover, if your church is not really impacting the world, executing strategic plans, engaging the lives of the people, and changing our cities for the better, then, simply put…

It’s not worth the money.


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  1. Their Antioch School of Church Planting and Leadership Development does not send their leaders away to a seminary, but trains them right in the context of ministry and still manages to give them an accredited degree from Bachelors to Doctoral, and is written about in this older article.