Bubba Justice shoots straight about the power of giving and missions
by Jason Chatraw
Money plays a large role in expanding ministry especially in the area of missions. Cutting Edge spoke with Inverness Vineyard (Alabama) Senior Pastor Bubba Justice about money and missions. Bubba is an anomaly among pastors: He entered into ministry after spending 10 years working in the financial field as both an accountant for a “Big Six” accounting firm and as a company CFO. He enjoys talking about missions and money from the pulpit and with other pastors. He is now functioning part time as the VUSA national coordinator.
CE: What happened that caused you to think through and study giving?
Bubba: I was really challenged to think through the biblical implications of giving when we were sending out people to plant a church a number of years ago. With a background in finance, I am always considering the financial impact our decisions will have as a church. As we launched this church plant, we realized that the amount in lost giving from those we had sent out far outweighed even the monthly stipend we were providing our church planter. I started realizing the deficit this was creating for us, and so I began to speak more regularly about stewardship and money.
Over the years, I've studied multiple resources on stewardship, including an intensive weekend training seminar with Crown Financial on how to teach financial principles cross-culturally. It confirmed my understanding of giving regardless of the culture. Over the years, I also discovered the concept of five or six "pockets-of-giving” which asserts there are certain things people are more likely give to—or not give to—based on the passions God has placed in their hearts.
For example, there are some who will always give a tithe—no more, no less, no matter what. There are others who will give to missions beyond their tithe. In fact, they may only give to missions. If we don't tap into that pocket as a church, by providing a place for their hearts to give, these people will end up giving to organizations that support missions, NGOs, Red Cross, etc. God has placed a desire within them to give to missions, and we'll provide an easy way for them to obey if our churches provide a missions outlet for them to give to.
Taking advantage of the idea of pockets-of-giving for missions has opened up new opportunities for us to offer to our people. At one point, we were giving nearly 33 percent of the total offering to missions, and yet we weren’t hurting at all. In fact, as much as people were giving to missions, we never saw any drop in our regular giving. So when it comes to those pockets-of-giving, whether you’re talking about missions or charity or building fund giving, know that there are people in your churches who will only give if you provide an opportunity for them to give in the area in which they're most passionate. The opportunity for people to give to their own church's mission trips and programs, therefore, is something the local church should be diligent to provide.
CE: How do you communicate these pockets-of-giving to your church?
BJ: A lot of people don't give because we never communicate to them that there is either a need or a biblical reason to give to missions. At our church, we look for creative ways to regularly communicate mission, vision, and needs to our people. For example, we consistently show videos and pictures of mission trips. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? People see the pictures of what is happening in these nations and God uses that to impact their hearts. It's a powerful reminder that their missions giving really does have a tangible impact in the world.
Each Sunday morning, we also highlight a different "pocket-of-giving," which allows people the opportunity to give to what they are most connected to. We regularly include missions as one of those giving highlights. For example, one week we focused on famine relief in Kenya, where we emphasized several key areas where people could give. Then we followed up through a weekly e-mail newsletter, where we let them know exactly how that particular pocket-of-giving highlight was impacting people's lives inside and outside the church.
This is part 1 of a 4-part series. Click here for part 2.
Bubba has led the Inverness Vineyard in Birmingham, Alabama since 1994. For over a decade, he's led the East Africa (now Kenya) Partnership, and he served as an APCL for the Southeast. In 2013 Bubba began leading the Learning Community Team for Vineyard Missions USA training, and he has been on the Missions Task Force representing the Southeast since 2007. With Bubba's ten years' experience as a financial manager for various companies, including working as a CPA for the international accounting firm Ernst and Young, he is now serving as the newly-appointed National Coordinator for Vineyard USA.