Thursday, January 27, 2011

Invest In It

The next in the series of blog posts about Leadership Retreat: Invest In It.

To steal the theme from this year's Leadership Retreat, we go All In. We invest in Leadership Retreat in a big way and we spare no expense. Good stewardship means you don't spend needlessly. But that's only half the equation. Good stewardship also means you spend extravagantly where it is appropriate.

In very practical terms, Leadership Retreat is the largest line item in my annual budget. For 22 hours. For the leaders. It's good stewardship for all the reasons I mentioned in a previous post.

That budget goes to room and board for participants. We pay for the whole thing because we want them to be there and want them to come for free. It goes for lights and staging and media equipment because we believe in creating the right environment. It goes for Chickfila lunch because making them eat camp food is not doing it right or doing it big. It goes for items that will honor and resource our leaders. It pays for childcare workers so parents can bring their kids but be focused on their sessions at the same time.

Whatever training avenues you are creating for your leaders, make sure to invest in it appropriately. I would suggest that means investing in it extravagantly.


At 12:32 AM, Anonymous Doug said...

I'm skeptical of this line of thought for two reasons.

First, it seems to me that the best way to model good stewardship, to model sacrificial giving, to model a life of simplicity and dependence on God, to model the ability to do without when so many are in need of so much, both physically and spiritually, is for the church to model it. Especially given NCC draws from a more educated and affluent crowd, to have even the church reinforce values of high spending, rather than be a prophetic witness against excess, misses an important opportunity. When any source of secure food would be a blessing to a large portion of our city, saying that camp food isn't good enough for us seems just a tad questionable. Of course, I've honestly always been a little skeptical of how comfortable NCC is with wealth. This is not to deny the phenomenal energy NCC devotes to global and local missions and giving; but to whom much has been given, much will be expected.

Second, I'm concerned a bit about what it implies for the servant leadership model. What does it say that the biggest item church leadership decides to spend on leadership? Shouldn't the model of leadership be continually putting others first? Shouldn't most of our resources go to those the leadership has been called to serve?

Of course, I could see one arguing that this is really more comparable to the alabaster jar. And I get that, although I think that would apply more to creating a glorious time or worship. But I just can't shake some tension that this is how we follow a Lord who sent his disciples out with nothing but the clothes on their backs, carrying no money, staff, or change of clothes (Matt 10), and led disciples while traveling around with no place to lay his head.

At 1:38 AM, Blogger Heather Z said...


Well, as might be expected, I completely and totally disagree. There may be some miscommunication/misunderstanding, however. So I want to give the benefit of the doubt and maybe explain myself a bit better.

First, I don't know any church that is as committed to giving as NCC. The amount of money we spend on leadership retreat does not come close to a fraction of what we spend on missions, compassion, and justice both here at home and abroad. In fact, one of our homeless guys just got back from a missions trip. He raised more money than anyone else on the team because the church (and even our surrounding community) was so excited to give towards his trip. What a great picture of the Gospel.

Secondly, this retreat is for the purpose of resourcing, training, and honoring VOLUNTEER leaders, who expend ridiculous amounts of time and energy to creating community, feeding the homeless, making disciples, clothing the needy, I could go on and on. Jesus and Paul both make it very clear that those who lead in the church-- especially those who teach-- should be paid well (1 Timothy 5:17-18, 1 Corinthians 9:14, Luke 10:7-8, etc). These guys don't get paid squat...and many of them would get paid at other churches. We invest less than $100 per leader on this retreat (which includes their room, board, and resources). This is much less than it would cost us to send them to a conference. Regarding the food-- because of our great relationship with a local restaurant, we were able to get the food for about the same cost that the camp was charging us. Some of the people who will be at this retreat are folks who have given up high paying salaries and prestigious positions so they can serve the least of these or minister overseas. Heck yes...I am going to bless them as much as I can while they are here.

Finally...I didn't say this was the largest part of our budget. It is the largest part of my budget. And I am choosing to spend it, as you suggested, directly on the people I am called to serve. In our larger church budget, we give far more to missions, local ministries, launching new campuses, supporting our homeless, etc.

So yeah-- what this is really about is investing in those who are doing the work of the ministry. Who take time off of work, invest long hours, and give much of their talent and treasure to the work of the Kingdom. I don't regret one cent.

At 2:20 AM, Anonymous Doug said...

Ah, that is a much different picture than I initially pictured. My apologies for the miscommunication.


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