Fourteen years ago I began a career as an investment advisor. After spending weeks studying for the state and federal securities exams, I began a very successful, though brief, career. Successful, because I was landing sales of which most security brokers only dream.
After spending years as a house painter, I felt that I had found my calling. I loved the idea of helping people find ways to invest their money to achieve the greatest amount of profit for the least amount of investment risk. The idea of making money with money thrilled me. Imagine, making money not only during the 9-to-5 work day, but also making money while asleep.
After only a few months in my new career, I attended a securities symposium in Indianapolis, Indiana. For a full week, investment firms presented their funds, boasting their returns as far back as 20 years. For several days, I sat thru presentation after presentation from some of the largest and most prominent investment firms in the world.
Using Power Point presentations, each firm showed annual returns that all seemed to point upward when it came to opportunities for investment. With a room full of some of the most successful sales advisors, these firms worked to convince us that their funds were the best investment for our clients.
By the time I headed home from the symposium, my head spun with excitement. I knew that some of these investments were exactly what many of my clients wanted and needed. That night I went to bed still excited about what I learned and the potential to help my clients increase their savings.
After I slept several hours, a loud booming voice awakened me saying, “The kingdom of God is the best investment!” The voice frightened me. I looked over at my wife, expecting her to be fully awake and as startled as I was. But she was sound asleep. “Did you hear that? I said, nudging her awake. “Hear what?” she mumbled. I realized it was the voice of God, reminding me that His kingdom was the best place to invest. It pays the highest dividends and interest and, best of all, there are no penalties or risks of investment loss.
I had just assumed a pastorate of a small struggling church, and I believed that God was telling me to leave my new career as an investment advisor to pastor the church. As a result, I turned over my clients to another advisor and resigned my position. But I never forgot my love of investing or the voice that reminded me that the kingdom of God is the best investment.
My burden to write Momentum In Ministry comes from Matthew 25:14-30. This passage is a reference for us to follow for investing in people-resources. Although this verse holds many interpretations, I believe this passage is God’s mandate to the ministry to invest the resources He gives us wisely for the sake of the Kingdom.
When I was in the securities business, it was my job to help my clients find that special fund or set of funds that were best suited to their investment needs and desires. If my client profited from the investment I suggested, they would sing my praises and recommend me to their friends and family. If, however, they lost money or– in the worst scenario–lost all their money, they blamed me, not the companies who invested poorly. After all, I was their financial advisor who made the recommendations.
I know full well the burden and responsibility of investing wisely–especially other people’s money. The above scripture illustrates how the Lord is an ardent taskmaster who punishes those who invest His resources poorly, but rewards those who use His resources wisely.
Nearly seven years ago, I resigned the church I pastored to help other churches and ministries invest their God-given talents. I have taught churches the concept of Small Groups and facilitated the implementation of those programs. At Bible Colleges, I have taught the concepts of leadership and the importance of knowing our calling, making our election sure. The drive behind much of my ministry stems from my knowledge of God’s desire for His people to properly invest their talents in the kingdom, and for those talents to initiate growth. That is my passion.
It blesses me to see God’s people invest His resources properly, and grieves me when they invest poorly. The burden and passion for this book comes from a deep concern that I have for God’s wasted talents–talents of gifted people who never find their place of ministry. Talents of time and energy spent on projects that lose their glitter and fade after the excitement wears off. Talents of money poorly spent or squandered on projects that are soon forgotten…talents that God wants us to cultivate and grow, and not take lightly.
Yet I’ve noticed a growing trend. Good churches with good people and pastors spend a lot of time, effort, and resources to start ministries in the church. But after limited–or even great success–they drop the ministry to invest themselves elsewhere.
In the area of personal finance and investing, it is said that “dollar cost averaging” is the best way to invest. Namely, we should expect the greatest amount of growth to our investment if we stretch our deposits over a long period of time. That way, we take advantage of the market changes and protect ourselves from investing only when the market is at its highest.
The mistake most people make is that they allow their emotions to dictate, investing only when a fund or stock climbs. They buy the stock after it has already increased, rather than purchasing it before its assent. On the other hand, by dollar cost averaging over time–resisting emotional investing–a person buys the stock at its lowest point, and also as it climbs. In a bull market, stocks go up. By spacing your investments over time, as the market escalates, so will your stock’s worth.
We all want our churches to grow; that is the fervent desire of every pastor or minister. We want it more than our next meal. Come on, we pray and fast for it to happen! We train and plan for it to happen. Everything within us yearns to see the kingdom of God advance within our given ministry.
But here is the mistake we make. Like an unwise investor, we get excited when we see other churches begin to grow. We watch them and try to imitate what they are doing to initiate that growth. We implement the same program or ministry. We do the same things they did. But when we experience little growth, we drop the whole plan to move on to the next “stock” that is climbing. This is replicated over a few weeks, months, and often years. In the process, we wasted time, people, energy, and the financial talents that were invested. Simply put, we buy as it’s climbing and sell when it declines, but fail to realize the momentum building as it goes through its constant corrections toward a profit.
The kingdom of God is the best investment. I know it like I know my name. You do, too. Why else would you devote your life to it? Why else would you spend your time, energy, and life doing the work of God?
But we fail to understand momentum. We fail to realize the potential for growth when ministry or money is on the downslide. For instance, a stock’s growth pattern has constant ups and downs. One minute the value of the stock soars; the next minute it plummets. In the same sense, programs, people, and ministries experience an up and down pattern toward growth.
Since the kingdom of God is the best investment, a penny dropped into an offering plate has unlimited potential and earnings power. In the same way, a minute working for God or a day invested in His kingdom will pay an eternal dividend. The growth pattern of God’s kingdom is a bull pattern. It is increase. It is growth. It is profit.
I have seen, and so have you, churches experience growth through some of the craziest outreach programs. One church had tremendous numerical progress because they hand out turkeys in the park at Thanksgiving. Another church attributes the multiplied growth of their church to their cookie ministry. They simply distribute cookies to their neighbors. Other churches have bus ministries, small group ministries, and you-name-it ministries. The point is, God will use anything. Our position is to stay invested and not allow our emotions to decide when to start or release a ministry. Yes, there are times to buy and sell, but it is not when our emotions are at their highest. Emotions lie and are unreliable.
Momentum In Ministry is dedicated to the burden and passion I have for the Body of Christ to understand momentum and its purpose in ministry. After reading Momentum In Ministry you will understand ministry momentum as you never have before, and you will discover how this law of God is present in all that we do for Him. Without it, chaos occurs. But with it, your ministry will experience the kind of growth and productivity that God requires of and desires for you, His investor.
One day we will hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” “Well done investor. Good job. You picked the right places and the right times to invest My talents and resources.” Some of you may have a five-talent growth, and some will have a ten-talent growth. But there will be growth.
If you are tired of the constant struggle of growth and increase in your church, don’t hesitate getting Momentum In Ministry.