Randy Stair is president of the PCA Foundation. Before joining the Foundation in 1998, Stair served in several executive financial officer positions, including CFO of Park Communications Inc. Here, he discusses how lessons learned in the business world can be applied in the pastorate.
What would you like to tell pastors about people working in business?
There can be a tendency among some pastors to speak of business in the negative. It happens in subtle ways. For example, we tend to celebrate people who are entering vocational ministry. I hardly ever see someone applauded for entering the business world.
There seems to be an underlying assumption that vocational ministry is of more value because it deals with matters pertaining to eternity. But the plumber, lawyer, electrician, and accountant are rendering service to the Lord in their vocation too. The Lord is using these vocations to make all things new and reconcile all things to Himself. I would encourage pastors to speak of and treat all vocations as sacred.
Are there any practical tools from the business world that could be helpful to pastors?
I wish every seminary introduced pastors to basic accounting. Why? Because I’ve watched pastors struggle to understand the language of finance (profit, loss, assets, etc.) and basic accounting. Many lay leaders spend their days in vocations where this understanding is assumed. Pastors could communicate better with lay leaders regarding the financial affairs of the church if they shared this common language.
Even more, the core truths of Scripture are built around basic accounting concepts. Christ has purchased our salvation in full, and His righteousness has been credited to us. This is the language of finance and accounting. A better understanding of finance and accounting will lead to a deeper appreciation of Christian doctrine.
How would you encourage pastors to think about giving differently?
Most businesspeople are used to being challenged at work to stretch themselves beyond their normal capacity with their time and skills. We don’t mind being challenged. Please feel free to call us to be more generous with our money. The Bible does. You should too.
However, the offering plate is restrictive. The offering plate allows us to give only one type of asset (cash). And it often can’t handle large or complex gifts like when we sell a business or receive a large bonus.
For example, an acquaintance of mine just sold his business for more than $10 million. He created a donor-advised fund to spread his giving out over time in a tax-efficient manner. His local church will be a primary beneficiary. However, his giving must be paced, or it will create problems.
The wealth of many business professionals is not in cash. It is in appreciated assets such as stocks, bonds, and real estate. If you want to unleash our generosity, enable us to give more than cash and beyond the offering plate. Using services such as the PCA Foundation offers, you can enable us to donate various types of assets to support the work of the local church.
To learn more about the PCA Foundation, visit pcafoundation.com.