Tuesday, August 27, 2013

When Unexpected Gifts Come

     Sometimes congregations live so close to the edge they wonder if they have enough to pay the pastor the next week.  At other times churches can receive an unexpected large donation.  But these can be problematic, dividing members over how best to use the gift and ultimately moving the church away from dependence on God.  Here are some suggestions for churches that receive large donations.
     1. MEET WITH THE CHURCH LEADERSHIP AND COME UP WITH A PLAN.  Whenever a large donation is given, people will react in different ways.  Some will react with the attitude, "We must save for a rainy day." Others will say, "We must give it all away now."  The church leadership needs to develop both a short-term and long-term strategy to use the donation to further God's work.
     2. MAKE THE DONATION A CONSTANT FOCUS IN THE CHURCH'S PRAYER MINISTRY.  Churches need to constantly seek the Lord for wisdom and pray for unity.  A donation can be a great blessing, but also has the capacity to be a great divider.  Prayer is needed.
     3. MAKE THE DONATION A TOOL TO ENCOURAGE STEWARDSHIP.  Sometimes people stop giving because they figure that the church does not need the money.  However, stewardship is not based on what the church needs as much as it is a way of giving back to the Lord what He has already given. Stewardship is an important spiritual discipline that must be encouraged. One church used a portion of its large donation in its mission outreach by matching, up to a certain amount, dollar for dollar what the congregation gave to certain projects.
     4. WHEN INVESTING, SEE IT AS A WAY TO FURTHER MINISTRY AND NOT MERELY TO SURVIVE.  If done correctly, some of the donation can be invested in future ministry.  With sound financial management, a congregation has the capacity of doing $50,000 worth of ministry on a $25,000 gift.
     5. CONSTANTLY COMMUNICATE WITH THE CHURCH BODY THE FINANCES OF THE CHURCH.  One church actually had $500,000 in funds, but, for a long time, its leaders did not disclose this for fear that people would stop giving.  Nothing can erode the church's trust more than when its leaders keep secret the church's finances.  Forgiveness is free, but trust must be earned.  The church leadership has an important responsibility to ensure that their congregation is a place of trust where the church can speak and live the truth in love.
     6. CONSTANTLY REMEMBER THAT GOD PROVIDES.  It is the Lord's gift and the money belongs to Him.  The church, through celebration and reminders, must never forget the Giver.  The pastor serves an important function in guiding the church to be thankful, yet also humbled by the great responsibility that God has given it.

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