Recently, I had the opportunity to fly to Dallas, Texas to attend the Christian Stewardship Network (CSN) Forum.
I was blessed by the trip because the forum was truly that, a forum. We had terrific small group table conversations, corporate worship, breakout sessions, and fantastic Texas BBQ. We were all able to share and learn best practices to minister to our city the best way possible.
3 Reasons Why You Should Attend Next Year’s CSN Forum
1. Relationships trump programming
I had the blessing of leading the Grace Family Church Stewardship (Finance/Career) ministry in Tampa, Florida for almost ten years. When we first launched FPU in 2007, I didn’t have a clue about how to build and lead a ministry. I simply applied the relationship-building acumen I learned in sales to connect people to what we were doing.
Our first FPU class had eighteen people. I was leading the group, facilitating conversation and learning the material for myself all at the same time. Since 2007, there have been over 3,000 people attend FPU through on-campus and off-campus offerings.
9 Years of FPU
During the nine years of FPU ministry, I had the privilege to serve God with some amazing folks! One of them even stood up for me at my wedding. We have had singles, married couples, younger and older, employees and business owners as well as retirees. These people have lived all over the world and come from and live with different socioeconomic statuses.
I was able to use my gifts of leadership, humor, and encouragement to make people laugh and challenge them to put all their skills to work to achieve their life goals. These experiences and relationships have blessed me abundantly.
Over the years, Grace Family Church has grown rapidly. When I started, we had one campus and now, we have a total of six. Our church staff has grown exponentially while many a volunteer has come and gone. It has been quite a ride! I do have a confession to make; however.
As the ministry has grown, I have let program-building supersede relationship-building. As a result, I have lost some touch in some relationships and some silos have been constructed. Often times, I have thought my ways were the best ways and maybe even have become somewhat of a program narcissist.
Yes, the numbers of people that enter and grow through our ministry are important and these numbers do represent souls; however, I let programming trump relationships.
Create a win-win scenario
God has created us to love Him and love others. Programs are a great way to reach and grow people, but, as leaders, we should beware of the temptation to allow that to overtake our relational efforts. I once heard someone say that we are called human beings, not “human doings” for a reason.
Let’s be intentional with our relationships to really drive the ministry forward! We can use programs to grow people, not people to grow programs.
2. Steward the time of senior leadership well
I was reminded during CSN that the lead pastor’s time is not all for me.
It sounds pretty simple, yet I have seen and felt my passion for stewardship ministry lead me to believe that I should be on his schedule weekly (ha!).
The CSN Forum provided a great environment of encouragement, wisdom, and challenge. I had the chance to spend time with stewardship leaders and pastors who love the topic and the life change that comes with its application.
I was reminded that we all have struggled with access to senior leadership at the church. It is not because the ministry is some “add-on” or because churches should have it (many don’t have a formal ministry). On the contrary, it’s just that they have many competing forces competing for their time.
With vision-casting lunches, elder meetings, programs, events and oh yeah, weekend services, life can be hectic. So, when we approach leadership with ideas, we must be prepared. As stewardship leaders, it’s kind of expected from us!
We must have our processes streamlined, be ready to answer questions in advance and provide one-page bulleted outlines and meeting notes. The key is to add value, not steal their time in pontification mode.
At CSN, through presentations, conversations and quiet time, I was reminded of how I used to do these things much better than I do today. The whole “keep it simple, stupid idea” does work.
One other golden nugget I learned — help the senior pastor make any of our ideas his own really quick!
3. If the ministry is to grow, I must grow first.
Subconsciously, I buried this point last in the post because you might not have read any further had it been first.
This week, John Maxwell’s first Leadership Law, “The Law of the Lid” came to the forefront. The law says,
“Leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness.”
During my quiet time and in sessions this past week, I repeatedly heard that it is time for the Grace Family Church Stewardship Ministry (we call it Finance/Career) to grow up!
Yeah, I said it!
It’s time to go from formula to whole milk and it starts now! The other piece of what I heard is that it starts with Me! Ahhhhh!!!!
If the ministry is to grow up, I must grow up! As much as I would like to stay the same, have people cater to me, I took away that it’s time to be real, look in the mirror and change my leadership for the better.
As a result, I am seeking to understand more of the Bible, meeting with a life coach and have plans to rejoin my men’s small group. I am also reading Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy’s new book, Living Forward, to help me write my Life Plan.
As stewardship leaders, we address time, talent and treasure all day long, yet as my first bullet mentioned, if we focus on programming before relationships with people, we may also miss out on our relationship with our Creator.
What a great week at CSN
These were my three big takeaways at this year’s CSN forum. I am not sure why I waited for years to attend. I am eager to connect with my CSN brothers and sisters to remain accountable and encouraged in my learnings.
If you are interested in attending the next CSN Forum, visit CSN on the web.