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The Traffic Laws of Church Money

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by Greg Gibbs

I lived just outside Detroit for two decades before moving to California in 2022.

Throughout that time, I heard some of the fascinating stories behind the development of the automobile. And what has been equally as interesting is learning about everything that changes because of the car. About a hundred years agog when the culture shifted from horse and buggy to these crazy new fast machines, new boundaries were needed. Take, for instance, traffic laws.

In the first decade of the 20th century there were no stop signs, warning signs, traffic lights, tracks cops, driver’s education classes, lane lines, street lighting , brake lights, driver’s licenses, or posted speed limits. Our modern protocol regarding making a safe left turn was not develop rebought to avoid mishaps, and drinking-and-driving was not considered a serious crime.

There was little understanding of speed. A driver-training bulletin called “Sportsmanlike Driving” had to explain velocity and centrifugal force and why when drivers took corners at high speed their cars skidded or sometimes “turned turtle” (flipped over).

The transition from the horse age to the motorized age would prove to be very dangerous. At first, speeding vehicles were not a big problem, but as early as 1908, auto accidents in Detroit were recognized as a menacing problem.

As a result, the city would lead the nation in managing this chaotic, enormous challenge:

  • Detroit was the first city to use stop signs, lane markings, one-way streets, and traffic signals.
  • Detroit was among the first to have a police squad dedicated to traffic control, and second to New York City in creating a judicial court for traffic violations.
  • The city drew national attention for using a tennis court line-painting device to mark pedestrian crossing areas, safety zones, and parking spaces.

The inclusion of the proper “guardrails” to allow for a powerful new wave of change was necessary in what would become the Motor City.

Guardrails are not uncommon in the church environment as well. They are one of the things that insure integrity in the way we handle money matters. And without integrity, it is extremely difficult to create a generous culture.

Without the appropriate amount of safeguards and protections in place, we can unintentionally cause harm. Having traffic laws in Detroit did not stop all the crashes or problems precipitated by the automobile, but it gave the city and is drivers a set of parameters that would reduce harm.

Many churches are ahead of the game on policy and procedure and behind the course on discipleship in terms of modeling and mentoring generous practices.

The following are some traffic laws that govern how money handling can stay between the lines. In my book, there is a splash of guidance about each area - there are longer and more complex treatments of each of these topics elsewhere (in other books, blogs, and articles). I encourage church leaders to benchmark what other churches have done before inventing something from scratch or drastically changing what they are currently doing in theses important areas:

  • Policies
  • Procedures
  • Budgeting
  • Audits
  • Oversight
  • Transparency

A “traffic laws of money” discussion should be another opportunity to self-evaluate in light of the above concepts. A robust, written, and agreed upon plan to address these six areas will provide the strong foundation for creating the guardrails needed.

If you would like to receive a PDF of “The Traffic Laws of Church Money” chapter from my book, Creating a Culture of Generosity, you can simply complete this form and we’ll send it to you.

Curious about learning more “traffic laws” for money?

Join Auxano Senior Lead Navigator Kent Vincent on January 26 at 10 a.m. CST for the first Clarity First Webinar of 2023! Kent will walk you and your team through two resourcing streams for empowering generous disciples in your church.

In this church leadership webinar, you will also learn key concepts of good generosity as well as three inescapable needs for funding your church vision.

It’s time to shift the church money talk to what you want FOR your church, not FROM them!

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