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4 Mistakes Leaders Make During Finance Updates

  • 16 November 2017
  • Keith Reed

Church finance updates can do more damage than good. The message often feels the same—church giving is behind but there’s a chance to meet budget by the end of the year if everyone picks it up.

Have you ever considered how this message can be interpreted by your congregation? 

Don’t get me wrong—much good can come from a carefully delivered financial update. But there are many things church leaders can say that communicate the wrong message. Here are four messages to avoid when giving a financial update: 

1. Don’t apologize

Of the 38 parables that Jesus taught, 16 address the theme of money and possessions. And yet, many church leaders feel the need to apologize whenever money is discussed.

Let’s remember that financial matters are primarily matters of the heart. Church finances go well beyond the numbers; they paint a picture of church health and ministry accomplishment. Wise stewardship is important, mission accomplishment is important, dependence on God is important, transparent conversation is important. Don’t apologize for any of it. 

2. Don’t make it about the budget 

A church budget is simply the financial means by which a church fulfills its mission. But many financial updates treat a balanced budget like it’s the bullseye. Let’s think about this for a moment—what is more inspiring—mission accomplishment or a balanced budget? Did Jesus establish the church to make disciples or to finish the year in the black? 

I’m not discounting the importance of fiduciary responsibility—it’s critical. But it shouldn't be talked about as if it’s the ultimate thing. A balanced budget is the means, not the ends. The budget doesn’t make disciples; the budget enables the community to be equipped to make disciples. So instead of emphasizing bar graphs and numbers, tell stories of how your church is fulfilling its mission as a way of highlighting the importance of giving to your church. 

3. Don’t give a halftime speech 

Too many finance updates sound like mellow halftime speeches that frustrated coaches deliver to their underachieving teams. The tone of updates like this leave the church feeling like they need to “pick it up” or “dig a bit deeper” if there’s any hope of catching up before the fiscal year ends.

How to Develop a Strategic Approach to Discipleship

  • 31 October 2017
  • Randy Wollf

In my experience as a pastor and in my interactions with other church leaders, I know that churches sometimes struggle with how to make disciples most effectively. Approaches that worked well in the past may not be as effective today. 

In this blog, we will look at a holistic process for making disciples that involves churches growing in 11 key areas. This strategic pathway of discipleship attempts to integrate a biblical understanding of discipleship with an understanding of contemporary culture. Obviously, some elements may be more important in a particular context while other elements not included in this list may need to be considered.

1. Prayer Saturation 

Prayer permeates disciple-making churches. How can we grow a culture of prayer—a culture in which God delights to work deeply in peoples' lives? Here are nine suggestions I have for how churches can grow in prayer

2. Loving Christ-Centred Community 

Discipleship occurs best in deep communities where people lovingly practice life-on-life discipleship. What can leaders do to develop this kind of intimacy? I believe leaders need to create opportunities for people to develop and grow disciple-making relationships and then model how this is done. Here are 8 characteristics the flow from a Christ-centred community.  

3. Growth Orientation 

When everything in the church is geared toward helping people take next steps, growth becomes normative and expected. Discipleship can flourish in this kind of growth-oriented environment (click here to read how leaders can foster a growth mindset).  

4 Skills to Help People Take Their Next Discipleship Step

  • 31 October 2017
  • Randy Wollf

Next stepDisciples of Jesus want to help others become disciples of Jesus. But this is sometimes easier said than done. How can you help people take their next faith step without being too prescriptive? What's the balance between sharing your own thoughts and allowing God's Spirit to move an individual into action?

I've found four skills to be especially valuable in helping people take next steps based on the Leader Breakthru Coaching approach.

Skill #1 - Listening

We all know that listening is important. Yet, most leaders are not listeners. We typically pre-conclude and make recommendations because we think it's more efficient. Leaders like to fix people and things quickly.

Active listening is holding off judgment and really trying to hear what the other person is actually saying and even thinking. To do this, we need to practice the 80/20 rule – listen 80% of the time and only talk 20%.

Here are five tips to help you listen better:

  • Listen with your mind – pay attention to what the other person is saying. Don't let your mind drift to other matters, even though they may be pressing.
  • Listen with your body – body language often communicates more than our words. Active listening means that we are facing the person and maintaining appropriate eye contact (and not looking at our phone).
  • Listen with your words – it's important to summarize what you think the other person is saying, so that you know you're hearing correctly (and so the other person knows you are listening and care about the conversation).
  • Listen with your intuition – as you are listening, you will sometimes begin to "hear" things beneath the surface. Your intuition will notice subtle cues that will help you say things that nudge the conversation in productive directions.
  • Listen with the Spirit – if you're a follower of Jesus, you can be confident that the Holy Spirit is guiding you. Ask Him to give you insight into the conversation and then to guide your responses.  

Skill #2 - Expanding

Expanding is all about asking good questions that help the other person think in different ways. As Terry Walling, Executive Director of Leader Breakthru, has said, "Discovery is about ownership. That which an individual discovers, they have a greater propensity to implement." 

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