Joe Clifford on “Do You Know Your Church’s Money Story”

Joseph Clifford, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas, highlighted in today’s teleconference the value of knowing your church’s story. He illustrated the way he had gleaned a lot of useful information for his leadership from the official history of the church. One interesting story — in 1905, the new pastor of the church received a note from the treasurer pointing out that out of 700 members only 245 contributed to the church, and suggesting that “the church officers” needed to do something about this. A classic triangle, as Joe pointed out.

Joe talked about the way he’s tried to exercise self-defined leadership in a church which has always been highly anxious about money. Joe emphasized the importance of self definition in the pulpit around money and other issues, and the challenge of doing it in a way that tells a story and doesn’t become willful. One example: he shared in one stewardship sermon his own journey of giving, beginning with his own realization as a young man that what he thought was a lot of money was only 1% of what he made, and their own challenge as a family to move toward 10%. He was honest with the congregation about the fact that they didn’t always make it.

Joe also talked quite frankly about his own family story and his ministry. His story was to me a terrific example of grace at work through our families with their strengths and challenges — I’ll let you listen to the recording for details.

The recording of the teleconference is available. E-mail me at, and I’ll send you the link.

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