Pastor's Pastor

Pastor's Pastor: I enjoy raising money

Pastor's Pastor: I enjoy raising money

I find real joy when inviting others to give generously to a program or project in which I believe.

James A. Cress is the secretary for the General Conference Ministerial Association.


Perhaps the assertion that I truly enjoy raising money sounds strange. However, the fact is, I find real joy when inviting others to give generously to a program or project in which I believe.

Early in my ministry I had the privilege of baptizing an individual who soon thereafter donated $250,000 to the local conference in joyous celebration of her new found faith. The joy she found in giving, as well as the impact of her generosity when it came to outreach possibilities, led me to adopt the personal goal of ending every year of my ministry having raised more money for God's cause than the church had invested in supporting me. In short, I want to work for the church for free by raising sufficient funds to cover my own salary and expenses plus provide additional funds to expand Christ's kingdom.

My objective of bringing more money into the church than I receive has taken several avenues of emphasis. First, in conducting public evangelistic meetings, I managed and spent large sums of money. However, I soon learned that such soul winning endeavors do not cost the church. Instead they are a strong investment that brings great financial returns. In fact, we once did a tracking study that demonstrated that within 14 months of their accession, new converts return all the money invested in winning them to the church. Anything that they give beyond that return is pure financial profit to God's cause.

This understanding led me to preach stewardship carefully in every series of public meetings that I conducted and to expect all the evangelists I trained or managed to do likewise. It is only reasonable to help people understand the expectations of heaven as well as the blessings of financial partnership with God right at the beginning of their walk with Jesus, In my personal study Bible I carry photocopies of two weekly sequential paychecks received by a man who was attending my evangelistic meetings in Ocala, Florida. The first check was his regular pay, and the second was the very next check he earned after determining to honor the Lord's Sabbath and the Lord's 10 percent tithe. The second paycheck was more than double the previous payment for the same amount of work. He proved God's promise very quickly!

Second, I enjoy preaching and teaching stewardship as a pastor. What a joy to encourage my members toward faithfulness and to see them grow spiritually as they experiment with God's challenge to "test" His generosity through their own giving.

If I have a family in my congregation who does not return tithe or support the church, I make a personal pastoral visit to encourage them to experiment with "growing into faithfulness" by beginning immediately at whatever percentage level they believe they can give and then increasing that amount by just one percent per month until they are experiencing a faithful relationship in the light of God's directions.

Lest you think this is heresy, notice that God honors experiments of faith: "Real experience is a variety of careful experiments made with the mind freed from prejudice and uncontrolled by previously established opinions and habits." 1 That is what I want for my members—real experience! Notice how it comes: by careful experiments.

M. Scott Peck says, "Learning can be passive or experiential. Experiential learning is more demanding but infinitely more effective. As with other things, the rules of communication and community are best learned experientially." 2 I believe it is also true for the rules of God's kingdom.

Third, I enjoy challenging those individuals who are capable of giving large donations to sponsor special projects beyond their regular giving. It is a privilege to expand their faith by expanding their opportunities to support mission ventures that would not be accomplished without their generosity. I never apologize for asking someone to give more than they could imagine possible, and I have observed more than one individual join me in praying their business or personal finances into greater success in order to meet their very generous contributions. Such donors consistently thank me for raising their awareness of the potential for their generosity.

Finally, I enjoy providing opportunities for those who cannot give extraordinarily large amounts to large projects. I do this by asking such individuals to give smaller amounts on a monthly basis. By just such a plan we support the PREACH (Project for Reaching Every Active Clergy at Home) program, which sponsors this magazine as a professional courtesy to clergy of all denominations.

This proves the biblical principle of giving even beyond what a person thinks they can afford. "For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift" (2 Cor. 8:3,4, NKJV).

So joy for me, joy for the donor, and joy for the expanded mission of the church all result from the privilege of encouraging others to give.

1 Ellen G. White, Testimonies to the Church,
vol. 3, p. 69.

2 M. Scott Peck, The Different Drum, p. 84.

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James A. Cress is the secretary for the General Conference Ministerial Association.


August 1997

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