By Rod Irvine
Barton Books, 2015
Reviewed by Chris Johnson
Rector, North Pine Anglican
This book is as much about a personal journey as it is about raising money. It tells the story of Rod Irvine and how he grew in his understanding of this important area of ministry during his tenure as Rector of Figtree Anglican Church in Wollongong. He talks about overcoming his fears and the breakthroughs that happened both personally and corporately as he applied the principles he writes about.
Of course there is much theory and great practical advice set out in the book which any leader in the church can take hold of and use in their own ministry context. Rod is widely read in this area and draws on much academic research as well as the insights of other church leaders. The book is well grounded in the latest literature on the raising of church finances. What makes it so readable is the way Rod sets this theory in the midst of his struggles and wrestling with both God and his people through the ups and downs of parish ministry.
This is the work of a pastor rather than prophet. Rod is concerned with resourcing the ministry of a local church to enable it to preach the gospel and win others to Christ. He understands the need for gathering people around a vision and being the leader who enables that vision to happen. He is not an Amos haranguing people about their hedonistic materialism and calling on them to repent in dust and ashes. He is a pastor seeking to woo his people to the higher ground of greater generosity.
Rod advocates using all of the program he sets out in the book and to not take shortcuts. Is this helpful advice? The story is set in the suburb of Figtree in Wollongong. This is a ‘typical’ Australian suburban setting which should find a ready application in most of the cities of our country. There may be however some depressed rural areas and poor urban settings where the principles he outlines have to be applied very selectively. Some ministers may feel their temperament differs considerably from Rod and therefore the principles don’t apply to them. While every leader must find their own voice it is important not to use this as an excuse to skirt around the spiritual battle that is involved in this area of ministry. To not take shortcuts is generally good advice however all ministry has a context and packaged programs need to respect that context.
The book is very practical with appendices covering the role of the senior minister, sample letters, sample commitment cards, and a sample sermon. There are references to many Bible passages throughout the book and what would have been helpful is a scripture index to allow easy access to the commentary on these passages. There are great illustrations and quotes which could be used in sermons but will be difficult to find when returning to the book later.
This is a book by a church leader for church leaders. It will help you improve the financial condition of your church but more importantly it will help you raise the level of vision, faith and discipleship in your church. Being a personal story it is highly readable as well as offering the practical advice that raises much needed money for ministry.