Story of hope from R Church

Lupe came into our church less than a year ago during a very tough time in her life. Her marriage was struggling, her brother had committed suicide, her parents had gotten a divorce after her brother committed suicide, and her dad had attempted suicide as well.

She was lost and without hope, but decided to try not just R Church, but Jesus!

The day that she walked through our doors, she felt hope and peace. She decided to give her life to the Lord, and shortly after, her husband did as well.

Lupe quickly started telling everyone around her about what God was doing in her life, and in response to that, many people started coming to church. She went through our discipleship process (Growth track), got baptized and is now serving in the welcoming crew. Her husband is leading the security crew and over 25 people from her family are now a part of R Church!

And her dad, who at one point felt hopeless and wanted to end his own life, gave his life to the Lord this past Easter!

To God be the glory for what He is doing in Lupe and at R Church. 

How To Conduct A Financial Audit

We get calls from churches from time to time asking if they should be doing a financial operations audit. The answer to that is YES.

Why? Because you want to satisfy your congregation that their contributions are being handled with integrity; and to protect your board and Pastor from possible charges of negligence.

All of our churches should be auditing their records, but not all churches need to use outside auditors for this. It can be done by as few as 2 people. Many churches use board members and possibly someone from the facilities team. The auditors should not be paid staff.

Here is a list of items that would normally be covered in a financial operations audit. Your in-house audits can do a few of them on a rotating quarterly basis so they’re all covered in the course of a year.

  • Review internal financial controls to make certain they are adequate.
  • Are collected moneys always handled and counted by two or more people?
  • Is collected money placed in a secure location at all times until deposited?
  • Are there 2 signatures on record of counts to be deposited?


(For more information on internal financial controls click here)

  • Verify that deposits equal the offering counts.
  • Reconcile the church checkbook(s).
  • Review expense reports of the Senior Pastor (possibly every quarter) and ensure some one is reviewing the expense accounts of other employees.
  • Compare that bank and investment balances agree with the balance statement.
  • Verify that the church’s debt (loan) statement(s) balance agrees with the balance statement.
  • Make sure there is support documentation to confirm accounts receivable (pledges, loan repayments, etc.) and reconcile them with the balance statement.
  • Review Accounts Payable to insure all bills are being paid. If you’re on an accrual basis, confirm all amounts incurred but not paid have been accrued.
  • Verify that donations in the donor system reconcile to the general ledger.
  • Reconcile the church’s quarterly 941 reports with payroll expenses (easiest in January).
  • Review an inventory of fixed assets for insurance and security purposes.
  • Correct for additions and disposals.
  • Verify depreciation is accurately reflected.
  • Compare current year to prior year amounts of income and expenses to see if there are any large or unexplained differences. Determine if it is legitimate or reveals a flaw in the system. (Most easily done at year end or during the budget process.)

By Ray Woods, Business Manager, Converge MidAmerica

Passing the baton

Paul had Timothy.

Moses had Joshua.

Bilbo Baggins had Frodo.

Brett Favre had Aaron Rogers. (Maybe I lost you on that one. I am not a Packer fan. Go Vikings! It illustrates a point.)

Throughout history, from secular to sacred, there have been leaders who raised up assistants to pass on the mantle of leadership. They passed the baton. 

In high school, I ran track and enjoyed relay races. One thing we practiced over and over was the simple handoff of the baton. Why? Why practice something so easy as the transfer of one section of pipe to another? The reason was that it was harder than it looks.

The baton gets dropped. It happened in track, and it happens in life.

  • Sometimes leadership is passed to a family member who squanders decades of hard work and ingenuity. The son may have trust, familiarity, and time, but not have the other attributes necessary to be a great leader.
  • Sometimes the leader is too afraid of giving up control, so it takes an emergency for the baton to pass. In such cases, the board or people below are left trying to pick up the pieces.
  • Sometimes the leader is too confident, thinking they have this. They don’t see how raising up a leader can help them and those around them.


In ministry, it is critical that we raise up leaders to pass the baton. We need more small group leaders, directors, deacons, ministers, elders, missionaries, and pastors. Why? Here are five reasons to raise up leaders.

  1. It helps us remember our goal. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). Our goal is to make disciples of all nations. We can’t do that alone nor does the message end with our making disciples. We need to raise up people to help people know our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
  2. It provides support for us when we are weary. “Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:11-12). We are better together than alone. In leadership, we need others. Raising up leaders is work, but in the end, it will help. 
  3. It allows the group to build resilience and health apart from us. “Appoint elders in every town as I directed you” (Titus 1:5). Paul encouraged Timothy to appoint elders, plural. He saw the value in not having a CEO, but a team of leaders to care for the congregations.
  4. It utilizes someone else’s talent that is different from ours. They have strengths we don’t have and can build our groups in ways we can’t.
        • I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-9
  5. It can extend the ministry beyond us. “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). We must not let our ministry die with us. If we are in the ministry for a longer season, don’t inhibit the growth of other ministries by holding on too tightly to those under us. Let us pass the baton to the next generation or next ministry. Raise up a leader. Prepare to pass the baton.

If you agree with me, then whom are you raising up? Can you name a person you are pouring your life into, who can eventually take on leadership? If you can’t think of anyone, whom might you approach this month about a mentorship relationship? Why not take a moment to think about that right now?

So, you have a person you are thinking of as a potential leader, who else comes to mind? Maybe you are at a loss of who would be another possible leader. How can you identify potential candidates? What type of person should you look for? The acronym FAT helps (faithful, available, and teachable). You likely have heard of that. Those are critical attributes of an assistant and any future leader. I would add one more quality that must be present, in some form: skill. They have to have some ability to lead. They must be faithful, available, teachable, and possessing some degree of skill. Perhaps the acronym would work better moving the letters around to FAST (faithful, available, skillful, and teachable).

Unfortunately, the process can be anything but speedy. An assistant may never rise to the skill level necessary to lead a group. He or she may be the best assistant but an ineffective leader. That happens. God made all types of people. Another reason the process may take time is the person you give your time to may not want to lead. He may need to be motivated to take on leadership, or she may be in a season that is not conducive to leadership. Another thing that may slow the process down is disqualifying behavior. The person may lack the necessary character to take on that next role. Thus, you have to go back to exploring who may fill your shoes when you are gone.

Whom can you raise up to extend what you do? Raising up a FAST leader is slow, but good. Don’t drop the baton—be prepared to pass the baton.

What I like about these FAST qualities is the accent on character. The individual is not going to be perfect. No one is. But they must have some degree of humility and integrity. This is not only sound advice from social scientists or people who have gone before us. I think this wisdom is grounded in scripture. Paul talks to Timothy and Titus about finding leaders and key servants for his church. The qualifications are predominantly character. The only skill he notes that elders must have is the ability to teach. So skill is important, but it is not ultimate.

Whom do you see as FAST?

      • Whom do you know that keeps their word?
      • Whom do you know that has some bandwidth to come alongside you for a season?
      • Whom do you know that has a measure of promise?
      • Whom do you know that is open to hear what you have to say?

Those are the ones whom you can bring up and disciple to take your place or extend God’s work beyond you.

We have looked at why this important and whom we are looking to as candidates. Once we identify the person, how do we develop them?

Here are five ideas that come to mind.

  1. Have your assistant lead. Disappear for an event. Have them take over. Ask them how it went.
  2. Praise and thank them when you see them spread their wings in leadership and do well.
  3. Read a book on leadership together and talk about it.
  4. Go to a conference together and discuss leadership.
  5. Meet over coffee to pray. Build your relationship. That relational capital can make those difficult conversations easier and those encouraging conversations more meaningful. 

My favorite resource on discipleship over the years has been Robert Coleman’s Master Plan of Evangelism.

Regardless of the resources you use, trust me, raise up an assistant. You won’t be around forever. Our message is too important for it to end with us. You won’t regret it. Pass the baton.

Creating spiritual momentum in your church

“Momentum… it’s God’s work. Spiritual leaders can neither create a movement of God’s Spirit nor control it. But a leader should build an atmosphere charged with a desire for spiritual momentum.”  – Wayne Schmidt

As we embark on a new ministry year, all of us will be seeking a unique breakthrough whether personally, or corporately as a church to move us to a new level of impact and fruitfulness. 

God’s people have been seeking spiritual breakthrough for generations through the practice of prayer and fasting. Some examples are Moses, David, Isaiah, John the Baptist, Paul, and Barnabas just to name of few. Yet our supreme example is our Savior. He set the example by fasting for 40 days in the wilderness and also through his clear instruction on the subject.

Here are five reasons why pastors should call their church to a corporate season of fasting that will create an atmosphere of spiritual momentum.

1) It’s a biblical practice.

Jesus did not say to his disciples “if” you fast but he said “when” you fast. (Matthew 6:16) ‘If’ is optional but “when” assumptive. Jesus assumed the continued practice of fasting with their prayers. It is a spiritual discipline to be employed by the church as a regular practice. When fasting is a regular habit it keeps our hearts tender towards God.

2) It creates community.

As a community of believers, we need to fight spiritual battles with spiritual weapons. When we do, there is spiritual bonding that takes places which strengthens our sense of community. Public fasts were declared under great times of stress and need by Samuel (1 Samuel 7:6), Ezra (Ezra 8:1), Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9:1) and Joel (Joel 1:14). The leaders in the Antioch Church worshipped, prayed and fasted together in seeking God’s leading (Act 13:1-3). Paul and Barnabas continued this practice as the appointed elders in the new churches (Acts 14:23). When it is a regular part of the church’s calendar, it births deep connections in God’s family.

3) It reinforces spiritual disciplines.

When in your preaching calendar do you take people deeper in their relationship with God? One of the marks of a missional Christian is that there is evidence of craving and experiencing spiritual intimacy with God through the practice of spiritual disciplines. When fasting is addressed from the pulpit it reminds disciples of their need to be disciplined in their daily walk.

4) It generates spiritual dependence.

It is too easy to do ministry in our own strength but in doing so we will only achieve results that will impress the man and not God. Crying out for God to do the spiritually impossible is the key to experiencing spiritual breakthroughs. Fasting is a physical activity that keeps us focused on the spiritual. When fasting is regularly practiced, it reminds us that spiritual victories are fought and attained in the heavens first. (Psalm 20:7).

5) It produces humility.

Pride is an infectious problem that spreads through the hearts of all men. Pride produces a strong reaction from God. He will directly and firmly battle against the proud (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:4). King David used fasts to humble himself before God the true King (Psalm 35:14). When fasting is a practice, it can lead to a humble soul who experiences the favor of God (I Peter 5:5).

Will you join us? Pastor, will you lead your church to join us as we kick off the year with a prayer and fasting emphasis?

Check out our resource pages to help lead your church through a 21 Day Prayer Emphasis. 21 Dangerous Prayers21 Courageous Prayers and 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. Each of these has a resource page to help you plan a comprehensive campaign.