Stewardship, Generosity, and Pastoral Training

Two weeks ago, the Baptist Word and Way published a series about church generosity. The average church member gives only 2-3% of their income to a local church, and most pastors I know think about finances every week. I discussed this trend in a recent D. Min. seminar led by Dr. Scot McKnight. The good news is that Pastors are called and trained to navigate the challenges of finances and generosity. Pastoral leadership is necessary for churches to disciple congregations and to unleash God’s abundant resources in the world.

The common misconception of seminary training is usually, “You’ve been to seminary, but you don’t have a business degree. Therefore, leave it to the experts to handle the finances.” This mentality is precisely what has caused such a steep decline in giving to church and caused Pastors to avoid the subject of money. In seminary, we teach that everything we have is God’s. We can’t measure our church’s effectiveness by the financial bottom line any more than we can measure a family’s condition by the amount of money left over at the end of the year. Jesus calls us to give everything we have to him. Living off 90% of our income is just one of many ways that Pastors lead congregations to depend on God.

One of the ways at Northern that we train Pastors to teach generosity is by helping students live within their means. Through a partnership with one of our supporting churches, Dr. Gary Hoag teaches personal finance and budgeting. By helping these students learn to manage resources, they are equipped to teach generosity to congregations.

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One of our students wrote, “This class was easily one of my top five classes since I have been in seminary. It changed my life. This course provided everything we needed to know about finances personally, spiritually, and theologically. It also provided material for us to teach the course at our churches. We learn a great deal about Biblical Exegesis and Theology in seminary, and not much about finances. As a result, I believe many seminary students leave able to preach, but unable to balance a check book, or oversee a church budget. I recommend every student take this class.”

Pastors coming our of Northern know that congregational giving begins with a generous Shepherd. The sheep will follow.

 

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