“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” - Matthew 6:21
Financial stewardship is a concept discussed many times in the Bible. From warnings about debt in Proverbs to the parable of the talents, the Bible provides wisdom for those seeking financial guidance. Applying those principles to modern life, however, can become complicated for people without a strong background in financial literacy. To help pastors and churches with financial problems and guidance, the Texas Baptists Center for Financial Health (CFH) has a variety of resources designed to approach the issues from a biblical perspective.
"As followers of Christ, we are called to steward our business and personal affairs with integrity and wisdom, and follow the authority set over us,” explained Tammy Tervooren, CFH director. “The CFH is passionate about helping churches and pastors better understand finances, compensation, and stewardship so that they can glorify God through every aspect of their Kingdom work."
Below are just some of the resources the CFH provides to help pastors and churches steward their money well.
According to the results from a statewide Pastor Health Survey conducted by the Texas Baptists Church Health Initiative of San Antonio in Spring 2020, 27 percent of pastors expressed the presence of critical financial issues. To help alleviate some of that stress, Texas Baptists offers the Ministers Financial Health Grant. This grant allows eligible Texas Baptists pastors and church ministers to apply for a matching grant of up to $2,500. As a matching program, the grant allows churches to come alongside their pastor during the grant process by participating in the learning process and by helping the pastor raise the matching funds.
The grant funds can be used to pay debts, build up an emergency fund and/or increase retirement savings. The CFH stresses that the grant’s aim is to address the needs of the pastor, not the needs of the church.
The Ministers Financial Health Grant is available to Texas Baptist pastors struggling with debt and financial security. Bert Sigala, a pastor and recipient of the grant, encouraged any pastor curious about the grant to reach out to CFH.
“For those pastors that are the same situation we were in, where they’re always thinking about their bills, I would encourage them to reach out to Texas Baptists, because what they are doing is standing in the gap for us and assisting us financially,” he said. “I would encourage them to seek out the counseling as well, because it really changed our mindsets.”
To help churches and individuals looking to increase their financial literacy from a Biblical perspective, the Center for Financial Health has a series of videos entitled “Giving Your Money Purpose.”
These videos are recordings from in-person seminars held previously for pastors participating in the Ministers Financial Health Grant. As part of the educational process, a lay leader from the pastor’s church must also view the videos or attend an in-person seminar.
Kughaho Chishi, elder at Naga First Baptist Church in Westworth Village, discovered the videos when he was participating in the course with his pastor.
When Chishi watched the series, he was struck by how applicable the videos were, not just for church leadership, but for everyone interested in increasing their financial knowledge.
“It’s not only about the church, it also helped me as an individual Christian learn more about taking care of my finances, how to be responsible and take care of my family and my financial situation at home,” he said. “It was a great help to me to learn how to be responsible with what God has given to me.”
Chishi encouraged other church members to watch the series, and he is not the only one. Sigala created a sermon series around the principles taught in the financial literacy courses after he participated in them as well.
Courses include a biblical look at finances, personal stewardship and church budgeting. They are available for free online here.
Another resource designed to help churches with financial literacy is Church Excel. This subscription service, designed by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, is available for free through the CFH for Texas Baptists pastors and other church leaders.
Church Excel has a library of dozens of articles, sample policies and procedures. E-Books, podcasts, webinars, tax guides and online courses are also available to help make church finances easy. Topics range from pastor’s taxes to church reporting. There are even free electronic tax guides.
To access a free subscription through Texas Baptists, click here.
The three resources listed above are just a few of the ways the CFH can help pastors and churches become more financially stable and literate. By receiving education about finances, ministers can become better stewards of the resources that God has given themselves and their churches.
"We have seen the impact that financial education and literacy can have on the pastor and the church,” Tervooren said. “It's remarkable what transformation can occur through handling personal and church finances with prayer and good stewardship.”
For more information about the CFH and resources, go to txb.org/cfh.