When you hear that call in your heart, it resounds throughout your whole being: God wants you for full-time ministry. It’s an exciting moment, but one that comes with a huge question: How are you going to pay for it?
Whether you’re a pastor or other professional worker in a church, or you’re involved in running a non-profit ministry, the work of the Kingdom of God can take up your entire life. For the church to be successful in spreading the Gospel around our communities and around the world, we need dedicated people like you who are willing to forsake secular work for the sacred calling of ministry. And for you to be successful in doing that, you’re going to have to learn how to handle your ministry’s money.
If you’re involved in ministry, the financial side of what you do every day can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be a mystery. Just follow God’s Master Plan.
Full-time ministry is a wonderful necessary thing that we support wholeheartedly, but it brings its own special set of financial challenges. Any ministry takes money to operate, and most churches and non-profits are dependent on giving and financial supporters to pay bills every day. And the bigger your ministry gets, the more money you have to raise to keep it running.
When you’re called to ministry, you’re literally on a mission from God, and you have His promises of support and provision. If God has given you a specific people to reach out to or a good work to accomplish, He has no intention of letting you flap and fail financially. Most people who get involved in full-time ministry know this. Unfortunately, too many people assume that since they’re on a mission from God, the normal rules about money and financial wisdom don’t apply to their ministry. And that puts them in a very dangerous place.
There’s a lot of things that we can learn about the intersection of money and ministry, and we’re going to explore some of those ideas in upcoming articles in this series. But for today, the main thing to emphasize is this: The principles that govern the realm of secular finance also govern the realm of ministry finance. Why? Because God created those principles, and they never change for anyone.
Think about it this way: God created math. It’s part of the very fabric of the universe, and there’s absolutely nothing that you can do to change it. No matter how much you wish that you could spend more than you earn, math won’t let you do that: eventually you’ll end up broke or debt. Even if you’re spending money with great intentions or for good causes, the principles of math still win every time.
So it goes with money and ministry — every principle that governs finance in the world also applies to your ministry. Yes, God is able to provide for you and the needs of your ministry, and He does so by stirring the hearts of His people to give. But even so, that provision is subject to the financial laws of this universe. You can’t spend more money in your ministry than you bring in. You can’t effectively manage your ministry’s money without a good budget. You can’t build a strong foundation for your ministry’s work without a good emergency fund. And you’ll never get ahead in ministry by going into debt.
If you want to be effective in the ministry work that God has given you, part of your duty is to become a master of your ministry’s money. We’ll look at different ways to do that in the coming weeks. Until then, think about this fundamental question: Does the fact that you work in ministry instead of in the secular world change anything about God’s expectations for your stewardship?
Working for God doesn’t give you a license to be casual with your finances. If anything, full-time ministry makes financial stewardship and accountability even more important.
Photo by Mac Mitchell. Used under Creative Commons License.