In early 1981 I sent a resume to Hebron Baptist Church, a church in our area that was seeking a pastor. Before I was contacted by the church a person called and introduced himself as the Area Minister for our region. The church had asked him to interview me before the pulpit committee did. The interview went well, and he recommended the church interview me. A few months later I was the pastor of that church where I served for the next 20 years.
During the interview he explained that the church had numerous problems one of which was financial. However, he quickly pointed out that people in the church had money. They just weren't giving much of it to the church.
I soon discovered the reason why. There just wasn't much happening at the church. There was no real reason to give money because there wasn't much to spend it on. Besides, there was a question if the church would even remain open much longer. There's no reason to give money to something that's about to close.
Like many small churches, they had money problems because the church lacked any sense of vision for ministry and many of the people had not been taught how to be stewards of their possessions. Financial problems are never the real issue in a small church; they are merely the symptoms of larger problems. Often, these larger problems are the lack of a vision and the lack of sound stewardship training.
There's not space here to talk about specifics, but within a couple of years we began some projects that required special giving on the part of our people. We began small, but each time we succeeded in raising the money needed for the project. At the same time, we saw an increase in our regular giving. Sometimes we even amazed ourselves with the money that came in.
The projects got bigger and bigger, and we were always able to fully fund them. Our regular giving continued to climb as well plus we soon raised our mission support to the denomination from the ten percent we had been giving to 15 percent. Since our mission giving was tied in percentage-wise to our regular giving, our mission giving continued to climb as well.
About a year before I resigned as their pastor we began building a new fellowship hall for the church. I challenged the church to fund the building themselves and not borrow the money. I believed if God was truly behind our vision for this new addition to the church that He would provide the money. Several months later the building was complete and was debt-free. That small congregation raised an enormous sum of money for its size in two years and built a debt-free fellowship hall. To make it even sweeter, that year it also gave more money to missions than ever before.
Small churches are often quick to point out their limited resources, but the reality is that most of them have far more than they realize. However, to tap into those resources requires vision and solid stewardship training. It's OK to begin with small challenges. As you see them achieved you will be setting the foundation for bigger ones later, and you will be amazed to see what God will do!