Building a generous church is hard. It may even feel impossible at times. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

SecureGive wants to help you build a generous church. That’s why we’re hosting a conference this fall specifically designed to equip pastors with the resources, connections, and tools they need to increase generosity. Give Conference is an opportunity for you to connect with other pastors that are like you and learn from leaders who have been where you’ve been.

We are excited to announce that Dr. David McKinley, Senior Pastor at Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia, will be speaking at Give Conference on how to manage God’s resources.

We had the chance to sit down with him this week to get a few early pieces of advice on stewarding God’s resources.

1- Can you share why you’re excited about Give Conference?

As I look at the horizon, I believe this is the time for us to intentionally focus on the extreme importance of generosity in ministry. It’s vital to God’s future mission of ministry in the world.

A few days ago, I read a statistic that in the American-Christian world individuals’ giving patterns are running about 2.58% of their annual income. Future projections indicate that number is going to decline to as low as 1.66% of total incomes being given per year by individuals by 2050.

Those are very small percentages to begin with. A small cry from the 10% of income that we see in the Old Testament through the practice of tithing. But to think that there will be a 50% decrease in the total giving from people’s incomes projected into the future, is a dismal picture for evangelical ministries (primarily the Church).

A conference, like Give Conference, is essential and vital to turn the course of life investment in the work of the ministry.

2- It’s important for pastors to have a “steward” mentality, not an ownership mentality over the church they’ve been entrusted by God. What key principles enable a church leader to live in this mindset?

I believe that there are two ditches within the ministry. First, the ditch of ownership. This is when a pastor operates from a “this is mine, this is about me, this is about what I want” mentality for the church. Second, the ditch of manipulation. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, this is when a pastor tries to coerce or force people into what you may believe to be a model/pattern of life and ministry. Throughout my ministry, the concept of stewardship has been the most essential principle of pastoral leadership that I have used to keep me centered and avoid these ditches.

In order to operate in a steward mentality, a pastor must see three things in ministry.

First, always remember that stewardship is linked to the message of the Gospel. Remember God’s grace extended to us in the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is a gift we’ve received (not a reward that we’ve earned). Gospel mindedness and centeredness reminds me both personally and vocationally that my life is attached to a crucified Savior. Anything I make about me – “my priorities, my wants” — must all be put aside at the foot of Cross. Because of God’s amazing grace in Christ everything that I’ve got I’ve been given. And everything that I give is for the purpose of God’s gift. The Gospel message is so important.

Second, a stewardship mentality helps us to realize that we live and think in the future though how we serve in the present. By investing in the long-term future of ministry, we’re not just being good stewards today but we are building a bridge for tomorrow. Focus your stewardship efforts on future endeavors by investing in both Gospel teaching and training. Also, be attentive to actions and resources that will benefit the future of your church (like being debt free and establishing a financial surplus for future missions.)

Thirdly, when you build a stewardship mentality into your church, you’re opening a door of blessings. The greatest blessings I’ve received as a pastor are when I emphasize the church’s mission and I see people invest in that mission. God reminds me that He’s providing for the future of the ministry through the people. I have the joy of watching people prove God’s faithfulness. I also have the joy of witnessing people beginning to experience the sure blessing of honoring the Lord and the Lord providing in their lives.

Ultimately, pastors must remember that we must first be stewards to teach others to be stewards. Pastors must be all in and raise up disciples who are “all in” with their lives and walk with Christ. Church congregations cannot solely attend bible studies and have a variety of experiences. They must learn how to manage what’s been entrusted to them. The money and handling of their physical and financial resources are not exceptions.

You are responsible for what’s been entrusted to you. Ultimately, the church is not yours. It is God’s. The people are not yours. They are God’s. We need to be faithful in the process and focus on the true call of ministry, which is to make disciples who multiply disciple makers.

3- What advice would you share with a pastor seeking to manage the church’s finances God’s way?

To lead a church both in faithful stewardship and effective leadership, specifically as it relates to money, a pastor must consider three things:

First, go before others. It always comes back to our individual commitment as pastors/church leaders – we have to lead the way. Give your own heart and resources (time/talent/treasure) into the ministry of the church. Manage your own finances in a way that you are an investor and partner in the work of God.

Second, recognize how vital it is to have a strong organizational system in place for the accounting and managing of money. You need to have the highest level of financial integrity and credibility. This includes not living with the reputation of being late on bills, not failing to be able to account for whether or not monies given to specific allocations were truly invested in those specific ministries, among other things as well.

Third, cast the vision and then the mission of the church. Resources flows to vision. When people understand that vision, they are inspired by that vision. They want to share in that. You help keep the church on mission by continuing to create a vision of what the Kingdom of God is and what it’s about and how it’s being evidenced in the world. As a part of that, you need to tell stories and testimonies about how God moved and worked in our lives and in our families and our ministries together.

4-What are you hoping that church leaders take away from the Give Conference?

What I want to personally take away from a conference is encouragement. I don’t need to be overwhelmed by a system or someone’s heightened success. I need encouragement that we’re working out the same playbook.

God says that He will supply needs. We all need encouragement toward that. Perhaps you’re struggling financially trying to break the bondage of debt. Perhaps you’re trying to launch or build some new resource or platform of ministry. I believe there will be tremendous encouragement that comes through the Give Conference.

One of the joys is that I really see SecureGive as being at the leading edge of helping pastors and churches find ways to stay on that stewarding mission that God has for us in our leadership role. I’m also excited for pastors to get tools and tactics that would empower them to cast vision (not just trying to get people to give money). We want to help people be all in as disciples.

I personally hope I’ll learn something! I’m constantly in this arena in my own life. I certainly want to live with a mindset and thought process and with a vision of how much more we can do together by faith as we seek the Lord and as we invest in His Kingdom. I pray other pastors will as well.