SBC Life Articles

It Really Is a New Day!

When you pastor a church that's been around since 1842 and has struggled to survive for most of its life, you know dramatic turnarounds are rare. When I came to Hebron Baptist Church twenty-nine years ago, we had an annual budget of $27,000. There was no strategic budget process, and our giving to the Cooperative Program amounted to $600 — only three percent of our budget. We needed better priorities.

We began to work toward giving 10 percent. We also began to grow. Over the last twenty-nine years God has honored Hebron's commitment to reaching the world for Christ through our support of the Cooperative Program.

One Sunday this past year, I mentioned the possibility of giving $1 million to the Cooperative Program, perhaps within two or three years. I didn't say any more. Right after that we began the four-week, study Road to Financial Freedom from Crown Financial Ministries, now offered within our Convention as It's a New Day for Financial Freedom. Listed below are several highlights and results of the four-week, churchwide emphasis, not the least of which was fulfilling a dream which was close to my heart and the heart of every member of Hebron Baptist Church. My administrative pastor came to me in December and said, "Pastor, we're going to give that million dollars to the Cooperative Program this year!" I would never have guessed last June that this could happen. We were not on track for this!

Let me tell you from my perspective how the It's a New Day featured curriculum turned things around for us.

1 It allowed us to address sensitive issues in a biblical and practical way. I had never addressed debt, honesty, or financial motivation effectively from the pulpit.

Rising debt has many of our marriages at the breaking point. Marriage has enough challenges without adding financial baggage. God has a better plan!

I've never seen a series that uses more Scripture. Every week our people saw scores of verses. Some were new to them; some just came to life within the context of the others — revealing principles that now seem so obvious, we wonder how they could have remained hidden in plain sight.

2 It enabled us to connect to the community. We promoted the series in a big way. I had people stop me on the street and ask, "What is this financial thing? Another sermon to get more money from us?"

"No," I said, "we want to help you reduce debt and plan for the future, for your retirement."

"Well, I've never heard of a church that wanted to help me plan for my retirement."

"I can tell you one," I said. "It's across the street. Come over one Sunday. Check it out."

We had people coming who had never shown any interest in church. They came because they felt a need and we offered a solution. In the process, they learned more than they ever expected. We connected big time!

3 It unified all our ministries. During this series, whatever I talked about from the pulpit was also taught in the various Sunday School classes as well as in small groups and on Wednesday night. Several families came to me and said, "When we sat down for lunch after church on Sunday, we all talked about what went on in church that day and what we had learned. For the first time, we could all share on the same subject."

4 It was flexible. It gave us latitude to take the framework of the four-week, churchwide program and modify it or use it just like it comes. We included videos and drama.

5 It addressed our need for financial stewardship. We didn't ask for money. We gave people a new perspective and tools for untying their financial knots.

Dramatic turnarounds may be rare, but It's a New Day around our place!



A Personal Invitation

Hello, I'm Ashley Clayton, associate vice president for Stewardship, SBC Executive Committee, and I want you to be aware of the help and resources which are available to you and the members of your church. We cannot continue to be silent on the issue of financial bondage! It truly is a new day! The world around us has already awakened to the growing problem of debt and financial bondage. Every bookstore has scores of "how to" books. There are online programs, government programs, and syndicated television and radio broadcasts to help people manage their debt, but most churches are silent on this vital issue. There has never been a better time for pastors to become personally financially free and become catalysts for change in their churches and communities.

Please join me at the 2007 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, to learn and experience the principles of financial faithfulness that God is using to transform lives around the country! Take time to discover how you can become involved in It's A New Day For Financial Freedom! Stop by the It's A New Day booth in the Exhibit Hall and give me and our staff an opportunity to meet you and show you the resources which are available to you and your church.

    About the Author

  • Larry Wynn with Steve Gardner