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Ministry philosophy and money philosophy

Ministry philosophy and money philosophy1. Money philosophy matters

Your ministry might have a particular philosophy of ministry – its way of doing ministry. But if that ministry philosophy is out of step with the overriding money philosophy, that will lead to problems…

If those who control the money have a different money philosophy. If policies about the use of money enshrine an alien money philosophy. If structures inhibit rather than promote the exercise of your ministry philosophy. Then you will find that you are constantly having to defend the spending that you wish to do. You are constantly going to have to get exceptions granted to you. There will be a constant struggle to have money used the way you need it to be used to effectively prosecute your ministry philosophy.

By contrast, if those who control the money share your money philosophy. If policies enshrine your money philosophy. If structures promote the exercise of your ministry philosophy. Then there is no constant need to argue for spending decisions in a defensive way. Rules will work to encourage spending in your way. Money will naturally support ministry initiatives.

The problem lies in the fact that those of one group will very naturally think that their approach to money is universal, and so enforce their approach across the board. By doing so, they may not comprehend the unhappiness of the other group, nor how it hampers the other group’s ministry. “After all,” it is argued, “these rules works for us – why shouldn’t it work for you?”

2. How money philosophy can differ

Here are some ways in which money philosophy could differ:

“We should make a good impression with the newcomers with our welcome pack. Let’s spend some money to print it well and make it look great.” “We should spend as little as possible. Just print using black and white using this photocopier that we have.”
“We think this training course is so useful that we want all of our volunteers to do it. We will gladly pay 50% of their training costs.” “If people want to do training, that’s great. They can pay for it themselves.”
“We should check that money is being used to advance the mission of God in this area.” “We should check that no church money has gone missing.”
“We should put on staff first, and then worry about money later.” “We should wait until money comes before we put on staff.”
“We should challenge the congregation directly about money and giving. God provides through his people.” “We should not talk so much about money, but instead trust that God will provide.”
“We should not spend money to have flowers each week.” “We should spend money to have flowers each week.”
“Let’s invest in people.” “Let’s invest in our building.”

The point is not that one approach to money is right and another approach is wrong. Instead the point is that within one particular ministry philosophy, it makes sense to make use of money in a certain way. And within another ministry philosophy, it makes sense to spend money in an entirely different way.

3. A vine without a trellis

All this means that for ministry to flourish, ministry philosophy must be matched with money philosophy in every instance. To the extent where there is a mismatch, then to that same extent will the ministry be compromised.

It would be like a lion – with no teeth. A soldier – with his hands tied behind its back. A vine – with no trellis supporting its growth (see more here).

And so consider: to what extent have conflicts in the past been due to a mismatch of ministry philosophy and money philosophy? Does your ministry have freedom to develop it’s own rules about money? to spend money in a way that best suits its ministry?

If not, then like a weakened lion or a helpless soldier, that ministry will always remain restricted to a smaller scale. That ministry will remain at size where it doesn’t have to rely on money.

You see, a vine which lacks a supporting trellis will still grow to some extent. There will still be signs of life! But that vine will really only take off when the trellis supports its growth…

Categories: Church life
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  1. 31 May 2013 at 8:01 am

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