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Financing the vision

What is the best way for ministries to finance themselves? What is God’s way? 

So God has given you a ministry and you have done your best to grow that vision in the way that the Lord leads. Sometimes others are brought into that vision, either because they share it as a call on their life or because you need people to do the stuff you can’t do, such as administration, the accounts etc.

This is all good, but now the dynamic has changed. Now you have to stay true to the vision that God gave you while considering the needs of others, all of whom will have their own versions of the vision. We are now in the shaky area of human relationships. Now, where’s my Bible, I need some input here …

What’s the difference between one of these ministries and a church? Isn’t a ministry just a church with a specific objective? What does the Bible say about ministries, in the way they are understood today? Here’s a good place to start.

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. (Acts 6:1-6)

Stephen and the others were the first deacons, brought together to form a ministry, Feed the Grecian Widows. They were selected as men of faith and wisdom, deemed to be key qualities even for a work of such a practical nature. They were still part of the Jerusalem Church, but they were a ministry within this wider body. So one would presume that FtGW would have been accountable to the First Messianic of Jerusalem congregation, in matters of discipline and direction.

Now for the biggie. What’s this got to do with the way we “do Church” now in the 21st Century? We live in a very different world, with different needs and obligations. Yes, it’s true that we do things in different ways, but God hasn’t changed one iota, however much we have allowed the World to change us.

And change us, it has. Even for most Christians, life in the Western World (and increasingly in the rest of the World) is not God-centred any more. What does that mean in the context of Christian ministries? How do our ministries differ from our 1st Century example and how do they resemble a typical modern day secular company or organisation. I would suggest the following questions would be worth asking: 

  1. Was the ministry birthed from a personal vision from God? (Not necessarily talking about an actual visual or audio manifestation, but a real solid impression of God nudging you in a certain direction).
  2. Is the ministry still fulfilling that original vision?
  3. Is God still nudging you?
  4. Have you made room in your structures to discern any divine nudges?
  5. If God told you that the vision has fulfilled its purpose, would you wind up your ministry?
  6. Does everyone in the ministry share the vision? How do you know this?
  7. Is the ministry supported by a Church congregation?
  8. How is the ministry financed?

I’d like to speak a little on that last point, the financing, concerning the practical life-blood of the ministry. This is a most contentious area and a real battleground between the Greek and Hebraic (Jesus) mindsets. This is contentious because there is abundant evidence that, in terms of finances, ministries these days rely less and less on God’s ways and more and more on the ways of the World.

Where is the Jesus mindset in the incessant barrage of mail and email requests for funds, using the same tried and tested techniques employed by secular charities? The very worst of this is from some Satellite TV stations, who presumably have to use aggressive approaches to finance the huge costs of leasing satellite time. The truth is plain to see, it seems blatantly obvious. If God supplies the vision, then He can certainly finance it.

The problem is that the World has taught us two very different ways of approaching this situation. It has told us that it is OK, even beneficial to the greater good (i.e. banks!) for us to live in debt, in the form of overdrafts and credit card balances.

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)

The World has also told us that it is OK to amass cash reserves, put aside for emergencies (also good for the banks!)

Yet does God really work in this way? We’ll find out in the next article …

For the previous article in this series, click here.

For the next article in this series, click here.

To find out about MY NEW BOOK, "Hope", click here.

You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.

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