Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? (Luke 14.31, NIV)
All of us have to go to war to get the gospel out to all the nations. In war, often the battle is won or lost on the basis of economics. The American military call this the “economy of force”, you want to have all the power you can have on the battlefield, but you have to be as efficient as possible. You have to exploit the people, the materials, the processes to get as much power on the battlefield for as little money as possible.
War is expensive – and whichever king ran out of money first would lose the battle, and Jesus knew it. That’s why He is telling us in this parable to think of the cost. Making disciples is a war, and it is expensive – it costs money to change the world. And if you do not know how to be efficient in your spending you will not sustain the ministry – you will lose the battle.
Most people have zero idea how expensive it is to plant a church, how expensive evangelism is, how expensive starting a second church is, how expensive going on radio and TV are, how expensive it is to be a missionary. Building a church is like building a supermarket in the middle of a war-torn nation and neither side wants you to open it. Satan is the god of this world, and you are the ambassadors of Christ in this world – and to wage world, you have to defeat satan, and build and extend the kingdom. So, a good king is always thinking about supply lines and how to extend the kingdom and make sure that things are still being paid for and you are making the most of your income to get the most power on the battlefield for your income.
When I started running conferences, I found out why so few churches in the UK are running conferences. It is not because God has not called them to do, it because they cost money. I have a friend ran a conference called Pentecost, and he said he almost renamed it “Plenty-Cost”, and I understand that. We have to stand in faith to believe God for victory every step of the way financially, and make sure we are being efficient with the money too. The conferences we have run in Tree of Life have brought heaven to earth. We have seen the sick healed, we have seen people encounter God, we have seen people transformed. We have seen people get their marriages restored, learn how to flow in the gifts, move in the Spirit, live above the storms around them, get saved, get changed forever. They have been remarkable. But I have had to learn to be efficient with the finances and get the best deals possible to reach the most amount of people possible.
World War I cost a lot of money. It cost a lot in terms of lives of soldiers, the trenches were dug at the cost of human lives for years. The British produced a video saying “Damn the cost, we must win this war”, with over 9 million people dying from the war. That’s over 6000 people every day we were at war. Nearly every family in the UK lost someone in the war, a father, a nephew, an uncle. But some towns and villages lost every single adult male. So those towns suddenly had no carpenters, no plumbers, no builders, no tradesmen at all – and no one to teach them to the younger generation. The infrastructure wiped out many areas.
Another 15 million men came back from the war, but unable to work due to injuries. So that cost was also making an impact to the wider economy. After the war, the economy was in a terrible state. The cost was estimated at nearly 180 billion pounds, and the whole world entered into a global depression as we entered the twenties. Inflation was changing the costs of things day by day, in Germany bread was priced in the billions of marks. Four years of war led to decades of financial hardship. War costs. Whole cities also needed to be rebuilded.
War is expensive, and we need to treat ministry as the same. We need to embrace the principle that Jesus taught us and count the cost – without doing so, you will not be doing ministry for long. I know a number of ministries that have had to close down because they got too expensive to run. You must learn to run your church or ministry as efficiently as possible. I bet you can do everything you are doing right now more efficiently:
- Going on TV is expensive, so find the most efficient way to do it
- Running a conference is expensive, so find the most efficient way to do it
- Planting a new church is expensive, so find the most efficient way to do it
- Doing a big crusade is expensive, so find the most efficient way to do it
- Going on radio is expensive, so find the most efficient way to do it
- Writing a book is expensive, so find the most efficient way to do it
- Running a Bible College is expensive, so find the most efficient way to do it
Do you know what will happen if you ignore me and do not make things more efficient in your church or ministry – I will tell you and not charge you a penny. You will end up having to shut down ministries or churches you want to continue – not because you are not anointed or called, but because you are broke!
I have seen it – ministries are planting churches but then stop because planting is expensive. Our nation sends people on two week holidays to paint a building and calls it missionary work – and they donate a Bible or two and call it world mission giving. We need some people who are going to give up their lives to live in other nations, investing everything – but we need to count the cost because we need to pay for it! There is more need for this than every before. There are over 50 million extra people in Africa when David Livingstone went. We have to do this. We have to be efficient – if we send people over who can start farms and generate incomes that is one way. One of the things that impresses me about Christopher Alam is how efficient he is with his crusades, spending far less than some other evangelists, some of whom if they want his longevity need to learn from him.
Ministers who go to India or Africa, or even London, with their five star hotels, and their private jets, their hundred members of staff who travel with them – they do not come back often! It costs too much!
If we learn how to be efficient we can do more for God. Notice I am not saying cheap – we need to beware false economies, and buying cheap things that need replacing, or doing things in a way that is just ugly. But I believe we can all be more efficient, and that will give us longevity in ministry.
If you do not follow this principle, one day your Bible College will close. You might disbelieve that, but I am not a novice, I have seen a lot come and go. You will not be able to write another book, have another conference, travel overseas again, or whatever it is. Fail to learn this principle and you will stop your ministry before it even starts. Don’t be that person!