Dave Bennett, Director of Development
The one thing that attracted me to NextGen over the many positive reasons I could have joined the staff is that it tapped into one of my core values for life. Jesus said in Mark 10:45, "For even the on of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." While I realized that Jesus was referring to His death on the cross for our salvation because He refers to His life as a ransom, I also realize that He came to serve. He didn't claim the glory that He could have, but humbles Himself as a servant (Phillipians 2: 6-7). He asks believers to follow Christ's servant mindset ( Phillippians 2:3-5).
NextGen has this servant' mindset. From my first meeting with David Whitaker and Josh Wroten, I saw and sensed that NextGen was not a typical organization or network of churches. David didn't say that his goal was to figure out how to convince churches to participate, even though I'm sure he'd like that. The message that came through over and over again was that NextGen exists to serve pastors and churches. The mission isn't to expand NextGen primarily, but to find the mission of our network of churches and help them fulfill it.
I have the privilege of helping churches take steps to their next stage of fulfilling their mission, especially as it relates to obtaining funds and planning. As a result, we discover a church's tangible goals which need money and planning to achieve. We view current ministry plans, strengths, areas of improvement, congregation members' view of how the church handles finances and donations. We also examine values to determine what drives the ministry. Some common values our NextGen churches state as to what is important to them include Biblical Authority, Excellence, Salvation through Christ Alone, Community Involvement, Evangelism, Community within the body, Teamwork, Hard work, Dependence on God, Discipleship, Community Service and Impact. These are all great values. What I have found though is that there sometimes is a disconnect between what someone or some church says they value and how they really behave. Some people say they value evangelism, but they never share Christ with anyone or even invite people to receive Him. Some people say they are a friendly church, but they only sit with their friends. Some say they value developing leaders, but they have no system for doing so. So its one thing to say one values something and another to value. it.
This made me wonder. "What really is the mission and vision of our financial coaching ministry and what really are our values?' So we asked those we have served what they value from our ministry and how they view us. Here is what we found.
Our vision is to help churches make wise decisions about their resources so that they can accomplish the goals and vision God has given them. We are about helping churches hear from God and what He wants for their ministries. Once churches and pastors become clear on God's vision, we help the pastor and church determine their tangible goal and ask, "What needs to be in place one year from now, in 2 years, 3 years, etc., in order for you to feel like you've made significant progress toward the vision God has given. Then we help the church determine the wisest decisions they can make which will give them the highest probability of achieving their goals and vision. We also provide accountability to follow through on their decisions.
The values and beliefs which undergird our vision of course include putting God first, believing that God speaks and is relevant in our lives, and the Bible is our guide. The comments we received concerning what they appreciate about our ministry included other aspects which revealed our values and how we behave. The benefits pastors and churches say they receive include clarity about their current situation, balancing priorities and goals, focus on specifics for the future, confidence because they have a plan in place and hope that key ministries will be funded and accomplished. What values lead to those outcomes? What drives us to help churches receive these benefits? How do we approach our ministry to churches?
We have four key values. First, we believe in leadership. There is so much written on leadership. I see it as primarily having a vision and inspiring people to follow. Leadership is especially evident during times of crisis. Concerning vision, leaders know where they are going and what they want to accomplish whether it is building, or bringing people to spiritual maturity or reaching the lost or feeding the poor. If it's a big vision and the church is not currently working in that direction, then it requires the leader to persuade a group out of their area of comfort into an uncomfortable area. This often causes crises for people. Many times, great leaders are revealed through times of crisis like Guliani during 911. We value leadership over maintenance, current comfort and status quo.
The second value we embrace is customer service. Jesus said. "The Son of Man came not to be ministered to but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many "(Mark 10:45). It's not about our agenda, but determining the church's and pastor's agenda and helping them accomplish it. It's what we can do for those we serve. It's about getting behind their agenda instead of us setting the agenda. Its not about what we can "sell (in terms of a product) to the church as much as it is about what the church wants to accomplish and our coming along side the church to accomplish something great. We help churches make wise decisions so that they can accomplish God's call as opposed to buy the agenda we think they should achieve.
The third value we embrace is coaching/consulting. We have three parts to our process. First, we discover a church's tangible goals which need money and planning to achieve. This gives us a way to evaluate the success of the church and coaching/consulting relationship. Then, we write a step-by-step plan of action necessary to accomplish each goal. I believe that the rational medium for the coaching/consulting relationship is a written plan. Third, we provide what causes the results--s 30 minute, monthly call for accountability, implementation and mid-course corrections when necessary.
One tool we use to help a church get its entire financial house in order is our "44 point checklist." Based on the church' vision and strategy, we prioritize the list and give written recommendations on which of the 44 to do first.
The fourth value we embrace is connecting. Ministry is about relationships. We provide the time needed to earn trust, to understand needs, support the church's vision, show care for what the church cares about, pray together, teach and train. We do this through physical presence, by phone and texts.
For more information, contact Dave Bennett to schedule a 30 minute call.