Meet the Pastor Turned CEO Who's Helped Thousands of Churches Raise Hundreds of Millions of Dollars
A personal introduction to the CEO and co-founder of the world's leading church technology company.
December 16, 2019
Do you work hard for your money? In scriptures about work, here are three things you need to know.
April 11, 2018
I come from the stereotypical West Virginian family: a coal-miner dad and stay-at-home mom. If you haven’t been around a coal miner before, let me tell you that they’re some of the hardest workers you’ll ever meet.
As a kid, I remember my dad working long into the wee hours of the night to provide for our family. When things didn’t work out at a coal mine for different reasons, my dad did whatever it took to make ends meet. He would take on construction gigs or drive long-haul trucks for days on end. I can still remember as a child and teenager that my dad was gone a lot, working long and hard hours to support his family.
My dad didn’t gamble away his money or pick up cool hobbies to pass the time. He worked outside of the house long hours, and he worked around our home to fix things that were broken and needed to be repaired.
In looking back on my childhood, I can see the grace of God at work in our family through my dad who worked diligently to take care of his family.
I’m not sure where my dad stood in relationship to Jesus or understanding the scriptures about work during this time, but I know he understood the value of hard work and doing what it takes to make sure his family had food on the table, clothes on their back, and a roof over their head.
"The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” —Genesis 2:15
God created us to work. Not in a sadistic sense to do his bidding or face his wrath. But to subdue the earth and have dominion over every living creature (Gen. 1:28). In other words, all of life, culture, and work is to reflect the beauty and glory of God. This is emphasis of scriptures about work throughout the Bible.
Whether you’re a pastor, construction worker, elementary teacher, entrepreneur, or stay-at-home mom, work is rooted in God’s good creation, and it's to reflect his glory. We see this plainly laid out in the verse mentioned above (Gen. 2:15).
Jesus himself was a carpenter, and his earthly dad, Joseph, was a carpenter, too. God himself even got his hands dirty when he made “man of dust from the ground” (Gen. 2:15; cf. 1:28).
Not only did God command us to work, but, being created in his image as a Creator, we are hardwired with a desire to create—to work.
This doesn’t mean that we’re able to create something out of nothing like God. Instead, we can create things out of something already created. From creating a meal out of multiple ingredients to building a house out of different materials, to varying degrees, we can create.
What is more, like God, we can bring order out of chaos. “The earth was without form and void… And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:1-2). As the Spirit of God brought order to creation, we too can bring order to the world we live in.
Governments can establish an orderly way of life and commerce. Counselors can bring order to a disorderly life. Engineers can create order out of the systems they develop. And when we clean, we bring order to chaos (well, at least at my house).
If work is so glorious, what's the deal?
Why does it have to feel so challenging?
Why are Mondays the worst?
Tragically, the goodness of work was twisted by sin. You see, not only did sin enter the human heart through Adam’s disobedience, but sin has permeated the entirety of creation, including work itself.
In scriptures about work, we observe the presence of sin has corrupted the desire for the good work we were created to do, and it has made work itself difficult (Gen. 3:17-19). Here are three common temptations you'll face in your work.
For you, you may be tempted to worship work as your idol. You will serve it gladly with long hours, bowing down to its demands despite the destruction it causes you or your family.
Or, you might be tempted to reject work. Let’s face it; working is difficult. You’ll have carefree days, but there are seasons when you’ll feel tired and defeated. Whether you find work too challenging, or you struggle with laziness and worship rest and leisure, you’ll wrestle with a desire to reject work outright.
Finally, you might be tempted to twist work. Have you been tempted to accept money under the table to push through a deal? Do you feel inclined to fudge the numbers on your sales quota? If you're a writer, have you plagiarized someone else's work? It doesn’t matter what type of work you do; you will face temptations to twist it with sin.
Regardless of where you find yourself in the three examples above, the presence of sin your life or the world doesn’t abolish your need for work. You can automate tasks or outsource responsibilities, but you’ll need to do work in some shape, way, fashion, or form.
Thankfully, you’re not left on your own to do this. In scriptures about work, we see that Jesus' goal is to redeem everything—including work (Col. 1:15-20)
Jesus has taken the “thorns and thistles” we work among (Gen. 1:18), and he wore a crown of thorns on his head as a reminder that he is indeed the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16).
The crown of thorns the Roman soldiers placed on Jesus’ head with the intent of mocking him, turned out to be a picture of Jesus’ rule and reign as the one true King.
As Jesus works to redeem all things, he has redeemed your life through faith in him. He has delivered you from the penalty and power of sin, and through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, you are empowered to redeem your work for the glory of God and the good of others.
In the words of Stephen Nichols, “Christ through his redemptive work undone what Adam did in the fall. And he restores to us the ability and the capacity to be image bearers as God intended us to be.”
In redeeming your work, here are three ways you will find God at work in you and through your work in scriptures about work.
How do you work for your employer? Do you work for him or her as you would work for Jesus? It’s easy for our eyes of faith to become glassy at work, and forget who it is we work for.
Jesus may not be your crew leader. He may not be physically sitting in an office watching your every move, or the one signing your checks, but he is the one you work for. Paul had this in mind when he said, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men… You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23-24).
The next time your boss reminds you of Bill Lumbergh from Office Space, and you feel frustrated, angry, or not compelled to do your job, then take a moment, pray, seek God’s grace in Christ, and remember that it’s Jesus who you’re really working for.
What did you eat for breakfast?
Did you enjoy a bowl of warm oatmeal and a cup of hot coffee? How about a batch of scrambled eggs and bacon? Or, did you pick up something through a drive-thru on your way to work?
Regardless of what you ate this morning, countless people participated in God’s work of providing you your daily bread. From farmers who planted the seeds and truck drivers who transported your food to grocery store clerks who sold you what you ate and bankers who provide business with financial resources, numerous people, without even knowing each other, participate together in God’s work in providing for one another.
God is at work in your life and through your life in more ways than you can imagine. Even though you may not see how the work you do benefit others, know that God has chosen to work through you, your skills, and experience for the good of others.
Are you stressed at work?
If you haven’t felt this way at one point in your life, you probably haven’t worked long enough.
There are many causes of stress at work. There’s crushing deadlines, conflict with your co-workers or manager, or you’re not compensated well for the work you do.
Regardless of what makes you feel stressed at work, you are free in Christ from anxiety, and you can trust God wholeheartedly to meet your needs, meet you in the storms of life, and work through you despite what’s going on around you.
These essential truths only scratch the surface of what God says about work. In scriptures about work, we discover many ways our faith influences our work.
The Bible is God’s guide for your life. In the words of the Psalmist, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105).
Now, when you flip through the pages of the Bible, you’re not going to find a verse telling you what job you should take or where you should live. What you will discover are verses about work providing you with direction in the decisions you make and the work you pursue.
From what the Bible says about work to gaining clarity on your calling, you will find what you need to know to “work heartily, as for the Lord” (Col. 3:23).
“You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns.” —Deuteronomy 24:14
“Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” —Proverbs 6:6-11
“A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” —Proverbs 10:4
“Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.” —Proverbs 12:11
“The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.” —Proverbs 12:24
“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” —Proverbs 13:4
“In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” —Proverbs 14:23
“Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.” —Proverbs 19:15
“The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!’” —Proverbs 22:13
“I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” —Proverbs 24:30-34
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” —Ecclesiastes 9:10
“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honestwork with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” —Ephesians 4:28
“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.” —2 Thessalonians 3:10-11
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” —Genesis 2:15
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” —Joshua 1:8
“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” —Psalm 90:17
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” —Proverbs 3:5-6
“Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” —Proverbs 16:3
“A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before the great.” —Proverbs 18:16
“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” —Proverbs 12:1
“Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.” —Proverbs 12:20
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” —Matthew 6:34
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” —Luke 6:35
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.:” —Ephesians 5:11
“And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” —1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” —Ephesians 4:11-12
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” —Galatians 6:10
“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.” —1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” —1 Timothy 3:1
“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” —1 Peter 5:1-4
How have you seen God at work in your work or through your work? Share you experience in the comments below.
In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.
Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.
Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:
A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.
Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.
With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.
To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.
The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.
Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving. So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.
Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.
Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.
Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.
Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.
Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:
There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.
Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?
And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.
Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.
How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.