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Utilizing a Capital Stewardship Program
By: E. Dale Hill

People in the church are not immune from tough economic times, and more and more churches are seeing this as a perfect opportunity to teach their congregants about biblical principles of stewardship. Can a capital stewardship program effectively aid a church with its ongoing ministry support?  Absolutely! How?

It Stands Upon Biblical Precedent
The idea of raising capital above and beyond the regular offerings of God's people is not a new one.  When Moses led the people of Israel into the desert, he was commanded to "tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution" (Exodus 25:2). Later, King David (I Chronicles 29) inspired the nation of Israel to build a permanent temple for the worship of the Lord with offerings above and beyond the regular giving of the people.

Although studies show that most pastors (85%) feel very uncomfortable preaching or teaching on money matters, leaders of congregations should never fear the incorporation of any biblical principle when considering what is best for the spiritual welfare of the church. Today, more than ever, there are many helpful ministries that can greatly benefit pastors in this area—and, in many cases, they offer free resources.

It Builds Upon the Vision of Church Leadership
People need to know that their giving is not just about meeting the church's annual budget; it's a vital part of worship and reflects a willingness to be personally involved in the Lord's work. It only makes sense, then, that a spiritual leader's need to cast vision is not negated in hard times, but needed more than ever before.

Pastors need to help their members understand why their giving matters. More than likely, some folks will visit your church during hard times who would not during better times, and a vision that demonstrates that God is still leading the church through His appointed leaders is a strong message that instills confidence and energy into the congregation and may turn a wayward heart to faith in Christ. It is a common saying that we are either moving forward or we are falling behind, and Scripture further encourages us by reminding us that "where there is no vision, the people perish."

It Challenges Those with the Gift of Giving
Every Christian is endowed with at least one spiritual gift. For some, it is the gift of giving. The point is not whether someone is able to give a big amount, but that they give from a big heart—they just have a God-given desire to fund spiritual causes. The news of a "widow's mite" gift from someone in the congregation can sometimes be even more inspiring than the large gift given by one of the better-known financial leaders of the church.

As with all spiritual gifts, this gift of giving in a spirit of gratitude and generosity also needs to be challenged to grow into full fruition and become the blessing to the church and the Kingdom of God just as He intended. The outcome of such a challenge to the entire congregation will be transformed lives and joyful testimonies that will inspire your church and encourage others to use their gifts in ways that impact others for years to come.

It Encourages Greater Involvement
It is not uncommon for churches that have experienced successful capital stewardship programs to report that they did far more than merely raise funds—that, in fact, the effort proved to be successful in raising up a new level of potential leaders within the congregation. Ideally, a reasonable goal for involvement is to encourage about two-thirds of your congregation to participate. This not only creates more ownership of the project, but it also creates more awareness of the potential for future leaders within your church. Many people are not actively involved in the ministries of the church because: a) they were not asked, or b) you were unaware of their gifts of service. A capital stewardship program builds participation through relationships already existing within your church and is a great way for some to gain the exposure needed to begin their discipleship journey in earnest.

Here are my closing thoughts about having a capital stewardship program in your church. First, do not let the economy drive your vision. Our God does not subscribe to the economic trends of our culture, so do not allow the news to be the loudest voice you hear about the future. If God has placed a vision on our heart for your church, then be obedient to that vision and lead boldly.  God will always make a way where there seems to be no way.

Second, make wise decisions regarding your budget's expenditures. Dumb spending will cost you in more ways than a shortfall at the end of the year. Just because the figures are in the budget is no mandate to spend money if you do not need to do so. A capital stewardship program usually costs only a fraction of the money your church will receive in offerings.

Third, teach your people to walk by faith and look to the future. A successful capital stewardship program done right today will prepare your church for great work tomorrow.

E. Dale Hill, a former pastor, is president and founder of Encore Church Resources, a church consulting firm that specializes in Leadership Development, Strategic Planning, Facilities Assessments, and Capital Stewardship Programs, www.encorechurchresources.com.

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