Archives For finances

Tithing is the single greatest issue that the Church struggles with as a whole.  No one other issue limits ministry, hinders personal growth, and stops you from living the life that God designed for you to live.  I have such a heart for the local church, telling people about Jesus, and the financial well-being of our people and I believe they all go hand-in-hand!  My hope is that this blog will cause you to change everything about your current giving and spending habits!  Lofty goal? YES!  But I’m all about impractical dreams mixed with an all-powerful God!

The problem that is created by our lack of willingness to tithe is two-fold.

First of all, our personal finances are in jeopardy if we decide to consume 100% of our income.  Statistics show that tithers carry much less debt than most people and are financially better off than Christian non-tithers—80% of “tithers” have no unpaid credit card bills; 74% have no car payments; 48% own their home; and 28% are completely debt-free. (For the official source of this article CLICK HEREThis is because when we are in alignment with God’s plan for our giving and spending, we will find health.  The principle of obedience is also true for sexual boundaries, moral boundaries, as well as these financial boundaries.  When we follow a Biblical framework, we will find holistic well-being time and time again.

Part of the reason for the above statistics is that people who come into alignment with God’s ideal for giving will tend to come in alignment for spending as well.  This will play out by not using credit cards to accumulate possessions we can’t afford, and buy cars that are out of our cash-purchase range.  When we have submitted our finances to God, we tend to make decisions that benefit our lives for the long-term satisfaction, rather than the short-term pleasure.  Although it requires more discipline, it pays out in less stress, more joy, and more freedom.1213643-Exhausted-Businessman-Carrying-The-Burden-Of-A-Heavy-Boulder-Load

The other issue that a lack of tithing creates is that our responsibilities as Christ-followers to reach, disciple and care for people are passed to someone else.  When we refrain from tithing, we are saying, “God, I know that you have given me this “rock” to carry as a Christian, but I don’t want to carry it.”  Unfortunately, that responsibility or “rock” doesn’t disappear….people still need to hear about Jesus and still need a church to be discipled in, so when we forgo our job, someone else picks it up and adds it to the load they were already assigned.

But sometimes that load becomes too heavy and the ramifications are that some people never even hear the message of Jesus because the resources can only stretch so far and the weight can only be so heavy.  Yes, we lived happily as a consumer, but they died without the hope of Christ.  Harsh?  Unfortunately, but said in the positive it is the most motivating thing in the world – When we give, people are reached with the message of Jesus…churches are birthed, communities are changed, people are set free, sex workers are rescued, the thirsty can drink, the widows are cared for, children are protected, the weary are refreshed, the hungry are fed, the lame are healed, and the suicidal are saved… I could gladly go on with all the ways our measly resources are used by Jesus to impact eternity!  His plan for us sacrificing a little to make a big impact is really astounding!

So, how do you go from spending to giving and being a part of changing the world?  Here’s a few ideas:

1.  Give first.  Yep, write the giving check before the other checks.  Why?  Because there is never enough left at the end of the month if we allow ourselves to spend first.  By writing the giving check first, we are saying, “OK, God, I trust you.  If the washing machine breaks down and there’s no money left, YOU have a big problem, God.”  And just watch, because He will come through every time!  It’s living in faith and it will be good for you!

2.  Don’t wait to get out of debt before you start giving.  Why?  Well, that will never happen.  You’ll die before you’re out of debt if you don’t come in alignment with God’s plan.  Start today and watch God help you get out of debt in miraculous ways – the first one being His ability to change your perspective!

3.  Reward yourself.  Not in a prideful way, of course, but when you hear about a Story of a Changed Life coming from your church, say to yourself, “Self, because you gave, that person gets to experience Jesus.”  Help yourself make the connection between your giving and eternity…because there is a BIG connection!

So, give it a shot!  I understand the fear your facing when deciding to give, but I’m on the other side of the mountain and it’s AWESOME over here!  God just keeps changing lives and the stories are worth every penny.  I believe in you!

 

 

 

 

We are days away from celebrating our 7th year anniversary as North Creek Church!  For the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing highlights from this incredible journey.

The early months of a church are interesting at best when you have a small launch team. For the first 24 months, we only hit over 100 people in church twice…Opening Day and one Easter.  In 2007 we averaged 69 people every week, half of whom were children.  There were Sundays when we needed so many kid’s workers to accommodate those numbers that it left only a handful in the main service to hear the message.  There is something very humbling about starting worship with two people in the audience and three on stage.

On top of not having enough people to constitute a crowd, we were hemorrhaging money.  Not only were we growing slowly, but our year of extra support from our fundraising ended in June of 2007.  The summer of 2007 will go down in history as one of the most stressful of our lives.  I can remember the day we needed thousands of dollars to pay the bills, we prayed desperately for God’s provision, and Sundays offering was $58.  Five. Eight.  What were we going to do?

Mark and I had both spent all of our lives at large churches, so our new reality was difficult at best.  Discouragement began to set in.  Could we ever get beyond this point? We limped along for the next three months.  We sold everything we could to pay the next bill.  As other churches offered us used equipment (which happens a lot when you are a church plant!), we took it, refurbished what we could, and sold it to survive as a church.

It was at that critical moment that we decided to lead out of vision and not devastation.  As we preached the Word of God we never focused on our lack and chose purposefully not to make it a highlight in our church.  We never waved the flag of desperation, but tried to stand firm in our faith that God would take care of us if we kept the main thing the main thing.  I have to admit that we may have been standing, but our knees were knocking.

At the end of October we sat as a team and crunched the numbers.  We had two weeks left before we would close the doors if we didn’t get at least $10,000 above and beyond our regular giving.  Our average month was no where near that, so we figured we were going to close an otherwise perfectly healthy church because of finances.  We braced ourselves for impact.

The first week of November, just one week before we would be out of resources, New Life, a church in Renton, Washington, took an offering to bless North Creek. We had been junior high pastors there a decade earlier and still had lots of ties to their people.  The check came back at $11,200.  We were just given a miraculous lifeline.

We went to our congregation to let them know of New Life’s generosity and the most amazing thing happened before our eyes…Our people matched that amount over and above their regular giving.  It was as if a light bulb went off in the hearts of our congregation, “If someone else financially believes in our church, we should, too.”

We rounded the corner to our second year anniversary growing to about 80 people and no debt.

What we didn’t realize was that we were about to make a move that would double our congregation and set us on a new direction…

To Be Continued

We used to decorate our stages to match our sermon series.  Here is the first year of stages that we pulled off in our mobile church!