Go to www.injoystewardship.com/minis
Welcome back to the Monday Morning Church Podcast. Today, we’ve got Brian Dodd on the show. Brian is the Executive Director of New Ministry Partnerships at INJOY Stewardship Solutions, where he helps churches develop cultures of generosity. Great to have you on the show, Brian.
Hi, Courtney, I’m glad to be here. Thank you for having me.
So, Brian, I want to hear a little more about INJOY, but first, I wouldn’t know just how you got to your position there at INJOY.
Yeah. Well, INJOY was founded by Dr. John Maxwell, who’s probably well known to all the listeners of your Podcast. And John was my spiritual hero. And I cut my teeth on youth ministry. This would have been in the late ’80s and early ’90s. And like a lot of young leaders, I like to say, I was kind of an unguided missile, a little bit. Just all passion and not a lot of strategy or technique. And my pastor came to me and he goes, you know, Brian, I appreciate everything you’re doing. But there’s this new book out that helps people with team building, and I think you could use it. It’s called Developing the Leaders Around You, which was one of the early books that really got out there and did really well for John. So I just loved the book and consumed it. I love reading, but I read slow and deep, but I read that one pretty fast. And so after I did that, I kept consuming as much of John Maxwell’s material as I can get my hands on.
So in 1996, for Christmas, my wife bought two tickets for me and her to attend in January of ’97, something John was putting out in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, called The Lay Leadership Conference. And so the day of the event, we were planning on driving 8 hours to Winston-Salem, and it snowed in Atlanta. And obviously, you can tell by my accent I’m from the South, but every time it snows in Atlanta, we make, the national news. We just don’t know what we’re doing and that kind of thing, but we somehow made it through the snow, got to Winston-Salem, and John announced he was moving his corporate offices from San Diego to Atlanta. For me, obviously, this was a sign from God. So I started a 5-year journey that included five different interviews and I never got hired. But I kept on to work for John.
And so in 2002, me and my wife hit the toughest financial stretch we have ever hit as a family. And I was a new father and my daughter Anna was a baby at that time and it was really scary. What savings we had was being eliminated and credit cards were starting to go up. And my wife came to me and she said, Honey, we’ve always heard you came out to give God. So why don’t we raise our giving from 10% to 15% and put that extra 5% on the ministry that meant a lot to her, called Precept Ministries with Kay Arthur, out at Chattanooga. And so we did that, and first time we did that, nothing happened. Just furthering the whole, further fear, further despair, further frustration. Two weeks later, got paid again, did it again, gave 15%. And I got a phone call from a friend of my named Todd Colin and Todd goes, Brian, I’m down at the INJOY offices, and they’re interviewing, and they want to talk to you. And so four days later, August 26, 2002, I got hired, and went to work for INJOY Stewardship at that time, called Services. And for the last 15 and a half years, I’ve pretty much spent every day of my life telling pastors, Executive Pastors, business administrators, church leaders, the incredible joy that can come when you trust God in a very generous and sacrificial manner. So that’s kind of my story and how I wound up to where I’m at today at INJOY Stewardship.
Wow, that’s pretty miraculously appropriate that you begin a position where you are developing cultures of generosity by learning to be faithfully generous yourself.
Yeah. You know, there’s a difference between exposure and experience. And there’s that old saying: You can only connect the dots looking back. You can’t connect on in the moment or looking forward. But I realized that I had to go through that process because what God had set up for me to do with the majority of my adult life, if I’m going to talk to pastors and church leaders about generosity and sacrificial giving in capital campaigns and those type of things, I needed to experience it first hand, to have any kind of credibility or anything like that. And it was painful going through it, but God has used to in a tremendous way on the back end.
Now, I’m intrigued by the description of your position, which is helping churches develop cultures of generosity. What does it look like to have a culture of generosity at a church?
Yeah. There’s a lot of definitions for generosity and in many ways, because generosity is not measurable, a lot of times, generosity in the eye of the beholder. You hear phrases like, I want people to live with an open hand and I want people to live in such a way that what they have is not theirs, but it’s God’s. And you hear those phrases and anybody that’s got an administrative bent to them, will ask a follow-up question, which is like, Okay well, what does that mean? How do I know if somebody buys somebody lunch for the car behind them, but they don’t talk to their church, are they generous? And so you go through those situations. The best way I kind of define it is: Stewardship is the management of what you have and generosity is the management of what you give away. That, in my mind, that’s the easiest way to position those two things. And when I talk to churches about generosity, one of the things that I try to do, especially in my position is, I want every church to have what I call a fully-funded budget. And the reason for that is that allows their mission vision to then become reality because, obviously, I’m talking to Executive Pastors primarily on this and their counting offerings on Monday and things like that, and they’re having staff salaries and those kind of things in the operational cost. But a lot of times, in addition to the capital campaign side of things, I’ll talk to people about what I call the Seven Giving Systems, and I’ll just hit those very fast, and if you don’t have one of these giving systems, we’ll put my email in the show notes and my contact information you can follow up.
But really the seven giving systems that every church should have is number one, there should be a preaching system. There should be, at least two times a year, that you do a teaching series on money and possessions and generosity in giving. And one of those two months I recommend is January. And January is a great month because what happens is, everybody is in debt from Christmas, they got New Year’s resolutions, and they’re setting up their annual budgets. So it’s a great time to answer the questions people are asking when they’re asking them.
And of course, then when you preach about money and possessions, of what God says about that, people are going to want to take a next step, so that’s your personal finance class. In your stewardship training, that’s your second system. That’s obviously Dave Ramsey or something of that nature. Our company’s owner now is Joe Sangle. He has personal finance ministry called I was broke, now I’m not, which is what the Dodd family uses. But you want to move people when they say, yes, I did it. Tell me what I need to do now, what steps do I need to take. You roll them into personal finance class.
The third system is first-time giver system. So now that they’re living on a budget and you work, at times, hopefully into the budget, then they’re going to start giving on the first time. I think whenever somebody gives for the very first time, that is a spiritual decision, not a financial one, because they have made the cognitive decision through the Holy Spirit that I’m going to trust God with what the world worships most and that’s money in possessions. So, you got a first time giver system. So that really carries you through the first quarter.
Also, say, you need to have a digital giving system and you need to do that in April or May. And the reason you want to do it in April or May and kind of push digital giving is because people go on vacation and travel sports and things like that during the summer. And obviously too, my daughter’s a freshman in college, and I have a lot of Millennials that work on our team and work for me. Here’s the thing, I don’t even know if they know what a checkbook is. So if you don’t have digital giving, you, in essence, are just removing an entire generation from the generosity experience. Then there’s that.
Then you move into the summer which is the financial leader system. And there’s reasons you want to engage financial leaders during the summer, but that’s when you do that. And the sixth thing, this goes throughout the entire year and that you want to leverage your worship service, particularly the offering times, and you want to have an offering talk and an offering system. And what you do, you’re offering talks, you always want to do a story or scripture. And so that’s the sixth one.
And then the seventh one is a communication strategy and a communication system. And there’s things you communicate weekly, there’s things you communicate monthly, there’s things you communicate annually, and things you communicate quarterly. If a church that we’re working with has those seven giving systems in place, they are most likely going to have a very generous congregation.
That’s really interesting. I appreciate you actually outlining those seven systems too. I’m thinking through my own church and what systems we might do throughout the year.
I know. Well, I start with the preaching system. I always start with that first because you start in January. Plus anything that happens good in a church is driven by the platform and driven by biblical teachings. So I always do that one first. So you start seeing their minds working immediately, going, do we do it twice a year? So, yeah, they start doing an inventory real fast.
Now, Brian, aside from your work there at INJOY, you’ve also got briandoddonleadership.com, which we’ve actually had a few of our interviewees mention that they rely on for some leadership discussion and encouragement. Would you tell us a little about that?
Yeah, that started as a labor of love for me. Funny story. Back in 2008, we had a new owner. And John had sold the company, and the new owner comes in and he says, okay, there’s this new thing out there called Twitter and pastors are on it. So, I want everybody get a Twitter account and start doing tweets. And so, anyway, being a good soldier and a lot started doing that, and I got to thinking real fast, but I wanted to say something that took more than 140 characters. So, that really led into a blog. And when I started the blog, I really wanted to write a book. And I could not sit down and crank out 50,000 words but I could sit down and crank out 300 to 500. And so, really, when I first started the blog, it was really just me writing a book just over an extended period of time. But what happens when you have the blog, you eventually, it’s almost like a pastor, you eventually find your voice and find your audience.
And so that has just morphed over the years. And my blog, today, really is like my diary and my Evernote. So if I see something interesting that day, or I read something that I want to make a note of, I’ll just write about it in the blog and I’ll just sprain it in a way other people can read it. And that’s where I get all my content from. It’s just what I’m learning and then I had taught other people along the way. And God has just unbelievably blessed the website beyond anything I could ever imagine. I think now when you read most top Christian leadership blog list and things like that, I’m in the top 20 or 25, and that just makes me smile because that’s just all God and it’s just, I’m honored to be part of that process. But I usually post about 5 or 6 times a week. Like I said, it’s just what I’m learning about leadership, but framing it in a way that other people can come along with me. I write to a Christian audience. Coaches, business leaders, teachers, administrators, all these different people, read it as well. But when you read my website, it is obvious that I love Jesus and I’m a Christian, first and foremost. But God’s really honored that and it’s been a privilege writing a website.
Now, obviously, leadership is a topic that you’re passionate about and you spoke about finding your voice through brand out on leadership, your blog. So you also have a new book out entitled Timeless: 10 Enduring Practices of Apex Leaders. Would you tell us what is an Apex leader?
Yeah, this is one of the genesis of that term is an example of what I just talked about. I was watching Shark Week on the Discovery Channel —
This should be a good story if you start with Shark Week.
You can never go wrong with Shark Week. But anyway, I’m watching Shark Week. And obviously, they used the phrase, great white sharks through the apex predators and that kind of thing. And so you’re sitting around and you’re processing everything through a leadership grid. And I’m like, okay well, if the great with sharks an apex predator, what do apex leaders look like? Leaders that are at the top of their food chain, the people that are the most successful in their particular industry or their area of discipline, what are the qualities of apex leaders?
So over the course of about four or five years, I just started profiling on my website different people at the top of their professions. And some people were there for an extended period of time, or some people like in athletics, they might have been at the top of the profession for one season. But over the course of about five years, I profiled over 180 apex leaders and some of them are industries like Zappos, in the shoes and apparel business. I profiled individual churches like Life Church in Oklahoma City and North Star Church in Kennesaw, Georgia, for examples, and things like that. But what happened was I then decided to take each of those 180 plus articles, set up an Excel spreadsheet, and then start cataloging each thing that made them so effective and made them apex leaders. And I identified over 300 traits. I then took out of that group of over 300 traits the 10 most common, and then that makes up the chapters for Timeless: 10 Enduring Practices of Apex Leaders. And the reason it’s called Enduring Practices is what I did is each chapter, I build a biblical framework for that particular trait, but then also tie in modern day examples. So in other words, there are things that great leaders have always done and there’s great things that leaders will always do. So that is the framework of the book, Timeless. It’s done very well. We’re extremely pleased with how the book is done and how it’s helping people. And it’s been a joy to write that and now, a joy to talk about it after it’s done.
Now you have 10 practices that you highlight in the book and not surprising, given your work at INJOY, one of them is that apex leaders give generously. So what does it look like to be a generous leader?
Yeah, definitely. Obviously, you’re generous in a number of various time, talent, treasure, but there’s one part of generosity that for this audience, the audience of this podcast that I really want to talk about, and I mentioned it earlier, and it’s the financial leaders in your church. How do you cultivate generosity with financial leaders? So here’s the thing about financial leaders. It is counter intuitive, but most financial leaders in a church are very lonely. What happened back in the ’80s, the church used financial leaders. This goes back to the televangelist scandals and that period of time, and we used financial leaders. So like everything that happens, when you realize you’re doing something wrong, there’s tendency for a massive over correction. And we went all the other way. We ignored financial leaders. We did not want to know who they were, and in fact, churches were even going, we’re not going to take up an offering boxes in the back, we’re not even going to discuss money and generosity and resources. But now, since that time, we’ve come to a healthy middle and you don’t want to use financial leaders, but you don’t want to ignore financial leaders. You want to disciple financial leaders.
And I recommend going back to the 7 Giving Systems, you do that during the summer. Because if you go back, here’s why financial leaders are lonely. They’re used to being asked for money. Everybody ask them for money. Their employees want raises, other people want them to invest in their ideas. If you go to a Christian financial leaders home right now and look at their desk, I guarantee you there’s probably about four or five non-profits that there’s letters on there. And with summer approaching, they’ll be asked to contribute to countless mission trips. And never mind if you have children and them asking for money. And obviously your alma mater, and United Way, and Franklin Graham and all these others. So they’re very used to being asked for money. But because they’re always asked for money, they don’t know who they can trust. So, a pastor gets to have the one relationship with financial leaders no one else gets to have. It can be their pastor. So you meet with them during the summer, and here’s why you want to do it during the summer, it’s a social time, it’s ball games, it’s cook-outs, it’s going to the lake, it’s outdoor gathering. That’s the time you want to invest in financial leaders because, obviously too, during the summer, unless there’s a mission trip or something, you’re not asking them for anything during the summer. So you can just build relationships. I coached pastors through this and I say, when you talk to them, talk to them about things you talk to everybody else about. Tell me how your marriage is doing, how’s your work-life balance, how’s raising your kids, how’s your health. Walk through and just be their pastor.
And another thing I tell pastors about financial leaders, don’t ever ask them to come to the office. Always go to them. Now,-there’s a biblical example for this when Jesus engages Zacchaeus in Luke Chapter 19. It says in 19:2, Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector and rich. So this was an extremely prominent business man. Obviously, unpopular, but very prominent. And he says, I’m going to your house. And I coached pastors through follow that example. Go to their business, go to their farm, go to their plant. Let them walk for you around, tell their story, and show what they build. Let them introduce you to their employees. Because here’s what happens. Not only do you gain influence with the financial leader, you now gain influence with everybody they influence. And so, also during the summer, if you do that and you build that relationship and trust is built and you’re not asking them for anything, inevitably, they’ll go, pastor, tell me, what we got coming up at the church. And then you’re able to cast vision and go, you know what, we’re going to roll it out over the next few months, but in the fall, here’s what we’re kind of thinking of. Come to think about it, I’d love to get your thoughts if you’re interested in giving all means and helping us out with that. And then so you then engage them in the church from a volunteer in a leadership perspective, and obviously you’re not doing it for this, but where a man’s treasure is, there his heart is also. The financial resources will flow after that.
That’s interesting, the difference between engaging them from a financial perspective and engaging them from that volunteer and leadership perspective, and as a pastor.
Yeah. It’s funny. Unless the pastor’s got a business background, I advise pastors, don’t even talk to them about money. They know more about it than you do. But once again, you have the one relationship no one else gets to have. You get to be their pastor. So keep it in a ministry and financial bucket. And here’s another thing, people don’t talk about this. Let’s go back to that Bible phrase, where a man’s treasure is there is heart is also. I had a pastor tell me this one. So I learned this from an actual pastor who learned this in a capital campaign. If that verse is true, he goes, Brian, when I talked to my financial leaders, here’s what I learned. Where a man’s treasure is, there’s heart is also, no one had more heart in our ministry than they did. These people understand return on investment. No one wanted us to succeed more. No one wanted the best for my family more. No one was more helpful for me and saying, what can I do to make you successful? They understand return on investment and therefore they don’t have good money chase bad opportunities, even as spiritual context. And so what happens is when pastors don’t disciple financial leaders, the irony is they are robbing themselves of some of the most replenishing relationships they would ever have.
Speaking more about encouragement, and the pastors listening, what specific encouragement would you give to those in church leadership?
In Chapter 6 of my book, which is my favorite chapter of the book, apex leaders make others better. I devote two pages, and it’s a little book, like a set notebook, but I devote two pages thanking pastors for things that they do. And when I was going through it, my editor wanted to take that out because they said, look, this is a leadership across the board that when you speak directly to the pastors, you’re limiting the audience. It’s obvious who the audience is. And I said, well, I’ll be on a lot of things, but that’s the hill I’m willing to die on because I want to keep that in there. Here’s what I want to tell all pastors and church staff. And when I speak at conferences, I actually go through this, but since I’m in this format, and if I could just have permission, I’d just like to read out of the book, that way I just don’t miss anything.
But this is straight out of my book, 10 Elements. I want pastors to know that I know that they have the toughest job in the world. And I want to thank them for going to God on our behalf and praying for us daily.
Thank you for studying God’s word and communicating biblical truths in such a compelling passion. I want to thank your family for their generosity, specifically, their willingness to live in a fishbowl and for sharing you with us. Many of you cannot even take your family to a restaurant or a movie without being disturbed by “well- meaning church member”. I also want to thank you for modeling generosity and never allowing us to pick up the tab. While some may have had negative experiences at a church before, this is not reflective of my experience, I want to thank you for demonstrating grace, love, and patience when people have questioned your motives and your competency. Shit may be done but they buy because they have a particular taste for pastors and church staff. You likely did not go on the ministry to become wealthy. Thank you for paying the price of preparation by getting such a great education and then taking a compensation package well below that level of education. Pastoring is incredibly hard work. Thank you for putting in countless hours and for being humble enough to be a continual learner. Thank you from being men and women of impeccable character and integrity. Thank you for your courage to make hard decisions and then live with the results. Thank you for seeing what we could be through the power of Jesus Christ and not just what we currently are. Thank you for helping us discover and use our spiritual gifts and allowing us to live lives of meaning and purpose. Thank you for having the courage to tell us about the sin in our lives, and our need for repentance and a savior. Thank you for expanding and helping shape our Biblical world being. Thank you for creating environments which help us raise Godly children. Thank you for presiding over landmark moments in our lives, baptisms, weddings, and funerals. When a landmark moment happens, a pastor is almost always there. Life is hard. Thank you for walking with us through tragedy, marital troubles, raising children, and life’s greatest challenges. Thank you for the periodic phone calls, texts and emails, just to see how we’re doing. Thank you for your great faith at what God can do. Our faith increases by watching you. We draw inspiration straight from your life. And most of all, thank you for not quitting every Monday and you keep coming back. Please forgive us for not being better friends. Being a pastor is the loneliest job in the world. We should have been there for you and your family more often. Forgive us for not paying more money and not praying for you more often. We are sorry for not being as passionate as we could be about the church’s mission vision and how we wish we could have brought more of our own church friends to weekend services. We will thank you every day for all of eternity for serving the church and our Lord so well. Thank you is not nearly enough, but I hope these two words encourage you today. Pastor, no profession makes people better than you.
So that’s what I would want to say to encourage the listeners of your podcast today.
What encouragement an encouragement, Brian. Thanks so much for being on the show today.
Oh, Courtney, it has been an absolute honor. It’s just been a real joy and I’m humbled you would ask. And I hope this has helped your listeners.