Asking Why

I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I find myself constantly tempted by the ease of operating on autopilot. I understand the importance of examining my heart’s motives, letting the Lord search me, and listening for His leadership. More often than not, though, my mode of operation is to say yes to every request that comes my way and try and do all of the things until I can’t anymore, and find myself wondering why I am doing any of them. 

In the past few months, I have run up against a dozen reminders to ask why, from staff meetings at work centering around articulating vision, to my own exhaustion. The summer seemed like a good season to set aside some intentional time for reflection, so I’ve been doing that. 

Every time I’ve found myself in a place of anxiety, frustration, or insecurity, I’ve been trying to pause in the presence of Jesus. To set aside my to-do list and take a walk, if possible, and listen to Him. In those moments, I’ve consistently sensed Him reminding my heart that He is enough for me, and I’m called to please Him, not other people. I have yet to know what a version of myself that is fully devoted to Him and no one else, obedient to His truth and not just the desires of other people, would look like. I don’t think I will experience that fully in this life, but, little by little, I feel like that is what Jesus is shaping me into.  

I just finished reading the book of Jeremiah recently, and seeing all of the instances where the Israelites were promised that their lives would be spared if they didn’t do the things that made sense, like fighting to defend themselves or running away in the face of danger. I’m struck by the fact that calling doesn’t always make sense, even though I want it to. In this next season, I don’t just want to do the things that make sense. I want to listen to the voice of Jesus over the circumstances. 

I struggle often with feeling bitter and resentful when I make choices just out of what makes sense, or out of a desire to please others over Jesus. Since people-pleasing is my default position for decision-making, I have to pause and intentionally reorient my heart to listen to Jesus first. Because I believe that, when you’re called, you’re not resentful. When you’re called, you’re willing to be foolish, weak, dishonored, hungry, thirsty, in rags, brutally treated, and to work hard, because the people you’re serving feel like your dear children (1 Cor.). I want to be able to become all things to all people, like Paul, but I also want to remember that living that sort of sacrificial life is a choice that I’m making. 

Since work is what I spend most of my time doing, I’ve been thinking a lot about my “why” there. Of course, the simple answer is that Jesus has called me to serve the Underground through the Finance Department for a season. In this time of reflection, though, I do want to honestly evaluate the purpose of my work, so that I can focus on improving it, and continue to serve with a joyful heart. I also want to investigate how the way God designed me, with my unique personality and gifts, fits into what He’s doing in the Finance Department. How can my attention to detail and love of organizing serve the Underground? 

The way we are currently serving some of our newest microchurches is by making it possible for these leaders to receive the generosity of caring donors. Through this process, these leaders don’t have to pay for and serve the people Jesus has called them to alone. When I think about some of our older microchurches, who are actually transitioning to become their own 501(c)(3)s, that process also feels like a way for them to not be alone in their ministry. We are walking them through the stages of incorporation, which includes forming boards and teams. This strange connection between finances and missional community is beautiful and inspirational to me. 

Why am I currently trying to organize some of our organizational documents and forms and policies? So that leaders can understand these things, and we can help them think creatively about their financial spending and prioritizing. Why do I review and record the transactions in our bank account daily? So that we can demonstrate accountability to our donors and our microchurches’ donors for the funds they’re entrusting to us. Overall, I think that so much of my job in the Finance Department is making something that seems scary and complicated and mysterious doable. Something like payroll, that’s tricky to figure out, but literally makes it possible for people to do what God is calling them to as a job. Particularly as someone who started this job, over a year and a half ago now, without any prior background in Finance, I love being able to look at people and tell them that they can learn how these processes work and develop their own systems- because I’m doing it, and I never imagined that I would be able to. And it has been so worthwhile to see how those processes and systems have served work that is building the kingdom. 

I’m grateful to have taken some time to recommit my heart fully to my work in the Underground Network’s Finance Department, as well as the home church and community that I love. I’m eager to see what new things can grow out of this season of evaluation and reflection. Are there areas of your life where you need to ask Jesus for a fresh word or vision? What does obedience to His voice look like in this particular moment in time for you? 

Hope and Fear

I’ve spent a lot of time in 2019 reflecting on the dynamic between hope and fear, and what these things look like in our daily lives.

In 1 Corinthians 13:13, hope is one of the three gifts that remain: faith, hope, and love. The word comes up over one hundred times in the Bible, and we are admonished not to fear over three hundred times. I can acknowledge how integral hope is to my faith, and that it and fear can’t occupy the same space. If I’m honest, though, I still struggle to define and understand hope. Fear feels much, much closer to me. At the beginning of this year, when someone asked me what I hoped and feared for 2019, my fear felt so obviously more likely than my hope, I was challenged by the ways my attitude and perspective were out of line with Jesus. How can I engage the God of the resurrection without hope?

Hope has always been just for the future in my mind. I haven’t seen it’s value in the present. I haven’t seen my choices in life, work, ministry, and relationships, as choices between hope and fear. I didn’t recognize hope’s relevance to difficult conversations, building community, doing mission, and interacting with Jesus.

Hope, to me, was a Pollyanna-like outlook; rose-colored glasses. It felt unrealistic and cheap, a way of avoiding and escaping the actual pain of the world- of difficult medical diagnoses, broken relationships, and systemic injustice. Hope has been a form of denial, a trite statement in times of trouble that provides little true comfort.  

Because hope has felt weak and impotent to me, fear has often felt like the safer option. Fear has a clear list of the reasons why I shouldn’t have that conversation, shouldn’t try that new idea, shouldn’t say yes to that person. Fear explains all the things that could go wrong and leaves me frozen. It lets me feel like I’m in control while it grips me around the neck. Fear paralyzes and silences.

Hope, though, is not about control at all. It is about freedom, about choice. Hope doesn’t mean nothing ever goes wrong. It is the thing that we cling to when things do go wrong. The reminder that this world is not our home, that sin and death do not have the final say. We fix our eyes on what is unseen and eternal, and we do not lose heart. Hope is an empty tomb after three days of death and decay and defeat. He is making all things new.

I read recently that “the quality of being both real and imagined [is what] makes hope so powerful it’s almost unstoppable” (Jewelle Gomez). Hope is not relegated to the future, not a way of saying everything is okay. I still don’t think hope is easy to access, but I have been trying to get to know it better. When I think about what I want to see Jesus do in my home church, I can choose to lean into the vulnerability and growth that I hope for in our group, through prayer and preparation and asking my community for help. Or I can opt toward fear, and spend every week wishing things were different but refusing to believe that they could be. Entering into this year, setting goals for work, I had to choose between hope and fear. In the midst of the stress of tax season and following up on the movement’s annual budget and helping other ministries gain their own 501c3 status, I could choose to operate out of the fear of not having enough time, not getting enough done. I could let that shut me down, diminish my productivity, and make me less likely to say yes to serving microchurch leaders to the fullest in every moment. Or I could choose hope. Choose to see the ways that Jesus uses our faithfulness and obedience in the Finance Department to free missionaries up to do the work God has called them to. I can choose to set reasonable expectations so that I will be able to do that work with care, and to make myself relationally available even when I’m busy. To open my eyes to the reality of God’s provision as He multiplies the little time and resources that we have to make a major kingdom impact on our city.

In this way, hope isn’t wishful thinking. It’s planning and action. It is still about our desires: what do we want to see happen in our families, our neighborhoods, our city? It’s also about seeking the heart of God, though. What does Jesus want to see in those places? And can we remember that in Christ, who conquered death, all of God’s promises to us are yes (2 Cor. 1:20)? Can we choose to operate out of hope instead of fear?

-Hannah Holmes

Finance Support Staff

hannah@tampaunderground.com

Anxiety & Finance

Recently, I spent a morning researching 403(b) retirement investing plans.

A lot of my daily tasks in the Underground Finance Department are the sorts of things that make people’s eyes glaze over. Financial reports and quarterly taxes and a variety of state and federal forms… I think these things can make finances feel daunting. That, and maybe our perpetual anxiety about money.

The relationship between anxiety and money feels like a hallmark of American culture, but I guess it was a problem in Jesus’s context, too. “‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?’” Matthew 6:25. He says this just after He tells His disciples, “‘No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.’” Matthew 6:24.

For me, I have found that my idols have the propensity to inflame the anxiety in me. They demand my everything, and they are not worthy of my trust. The image of idols as heavy burdens described in Isaiah 46 has stuck with me throughout my life. Over the years, the idolatry of my perfectionism and people-pleasing has weighed me down until I could barely stand at times. I am continually laying these burdens at the feet of Jesus.

Given my propensity to anxiety, I think it’s amusing that God has called me to work in the Underground’s Finance Department, the department that has the potential to be the center of so much worry. I see this as an opportunity for personal growth, and a chance for me to strive for the prophetic beauty of the kingdom Jesus speaks about in Matthew 6. The kingdom that we’re supposed to be seeking first.

When anxiety grips me, I have to break my gaze away from the idol so that I can run back to the arm’s of my Father, the only place I find true peace and joy. Turning outward in vulnerability feels like the greatest risk in these moments of high anxiety. All I want to do, on a visceral, gut level, is drive home, lock myself in my room, and dive under my covers. What I need to do is the opposite. I need to share with someone how I’m feeling, and let go of the lie that I’ve been worshipping and serving, that I can be perfect. I have to rest in the strangely relieving truth that, in my own strength, I am not enough.

After I’ve fallen into this truth, I need to rise into the reality that God, who is in me and with me, is more than enough. Serving Him doesn’t lead to a scarcity mentality- even when I’m walking through trials, even when I’m suffering, even when everything I have and am does not seem like enough. I have to remember that, although my idols always fail me, God never has. I’m struck by how often in scriptures we are called to remember things- because we can be so forgetful. I can be so forgetful. When I need to break the hold of my idols, I need intentional reminders of God’s faithfulness and goodness. I need to write these things down, hear my community say them, read them in scriptures, and cling to them, against the pummeling of the lie that wants me to serve it as master.

Sometimes, I have to repeat this process daily. Sometimes, hourly. Because I am forgetful.

This is a time of year when it is especially easy to forget. At the end of one season and the beginning of another, it’s easy to serve our plans, our budgets, our fundraisers, and our reports as master. There is a definite temptation for me to take on a burden of anxiety for the Underground as we prepare for a new year of ministry. I know, though, that God has not called me here to operate in fear and scarcity. He has called me to labor bravely to help steward the resources He has given us. He has called me to remember that He has always been faithful to give us what we need to serve microchurches in Tampa, and to be generous around the world. I want every donation, every deposit, and every report to turn my gaze toward Him and break my focus on my idol of perfection, that demands control and careful planning. These things can never replace the power of Jesus.

The Underground’s values of sharing and giving stand in direct opposition to the lies that I would serve. Alone, we do not have enough, but we are not alone. We stand together, and we stand under the leadership of Jesus, who is always more than enough. From the time I started coming to the Underground eight years ago to now, one of my favorite things about this network has been the way we do our budget. The way the leadership shares the budget with the entire community before asking us all to opt in with a giving commitment. The way 50% of our money is disbursed to the brave missionaries we are privileged to partner with in Tampa and around the world. This way of doing things stands in direct opposition to my idol of perfectionism, that carries with it isolation and posturing. I cannot serve two masters, and I am grateful for the way that Jesus is using my work with the Underground Finance Department to purge my heart and life of idols.

-Hannah Holmes

Finance Support Staff

hannah@tampaunderground.com

Finance As Worship

Where does accounting fit in the kingdom of God?

I’m afraid that, despite my best efforts not to, I still feel, see, and practice dualism. I still manage to hold to this belief that the secular is “bad,” and utterly separate from the spiritual. I know that there isn’t actually a Biblical basis for this, rather that God cares for the whole person. The Word took on flesh and dwelt among us. His gospel is so much bigger than just our personal salvation- it extends to the reconciliation of our whole being to Him, as well as our relationships with each other and the environment. Jesus came to take away our sins, and to destroy the works of the enemy (1 John 3:5, 8). Everything that sin made wrong, He is making right as He makes all things new. I know that shalom is about wholeness, not a fractured reality.

However, I still classify certain jobs as ministry, and everything else as, well, just work. Working for the finance department of the Underground Network challenges this dualism for me daily. On the one hand, working for the Underground Network in any capacity seems like ministry. Part of what is so unique about the Underground is the way this organization challenges every believer to engage with their own calling from Jesus to bring the good news to the dark places in our city. Being a part of that dream in any capacity feels like being a part of something much larger than myself- something like the reconciliation of all things to God.

Then again, I work in finances from nine to five, Monday through Friday, and I know of nothing that falls more squarely outside the “spiritual” in dualism then numbers. What could accounting possibly have to do with spirituality?

At the Underground, though, we are committed to surrendering our whole selves to Jesus, even our accounting. With materialism and greed dominating our current culture, especially our accounting needs to be surrendered to Him. This is actually a way that we resist the works of the enemy in the world, as we seek the kingdom of God in how we use our money. Because of that, being a part of the Finance team at the Underground is deeply spiritual, and interwoven with prayer. We are constantly confronted with the behind the scenes needs of committed missionaries, and pushed to cry out for the provision of God, and the leadership of His Spirit as we seek creative solutions. Simultaneously, we worship Him for the ways He does provide through the sacrificial generosity of people in our community, both near and far. I am aware every time I fill out a form, run a report, or reconcile an account, of how small I am, and how large this thing that God is growing out of our mustard seed faith is.

I need this reminder, that every detail in our lives and our organizations has to belong to Jesus. He has to be Lord, in the way we do our accounting, the way we design our websites, the way we coach and train. Our learning and action should be defined by His leadership and mission. In the finance department, this means wrestling with how to better manage risks, as people who both trust Jesus and also need to effectively steward what He has given us. It means welcoming and embracing the highest standards of accountability. I need this reminder because I need every task that I undertake, from simple data entry to creative problem solving, to be submitted to Jesus, covered with prayer, and done with commitment to His mission. When I look at my job this way, finances and accounting feel like intercession and worship; a valuable piece of equipping missionaries of the kingdom who are wholly surrendered to Jesus.

Of course, I still don’t want to neglect Jesus’ mandate to go out and look for lost sheep. Underground staff don’t just spend their days serving missionaries, they also are missionaries in their families, neighborhoods, and the communities they have been called to serve. I think in this season, I am just realizing that the reach of Jesus’ kingdom extends farther than I’ve imagined before. The specific ways I assumed and expected that He would use my life, the things that I tried to control, have not worked out as I planned, or hoped. Instead, He is leading me towards deeper surrender as I learn to do everything for His glory and honor in the world, from making a deposit in a microchurch’s bank account, to serving as part of a tutoring program for kids, to loving the people in my home church. I want to value and be faithful to each of these roles He has given me as I continue seeking His leadership.

-Hannah Holmes

Finance Support Staff

hannah@tampaunderground.com

Reflections on Organizational Integrity

I’ve been reflecting lately on the distinction between compliance and integrity. Compliance is following rules — especially when it comes to finances. Regulations give us lines not to cross. Our internal policies or IRS regulations or state regulations give us parameters in which to stay. Or at least, not get caught if we stray from these regulations (whether it’s intentional or an honest mistake). Some of these make sense and some don’t, but they are an inevitable part of operating as a nonprofit organization.

Integrity, on the other hand, is the bigger vision I seek for us as an organization and the missionaries we serve. The word integrity, while its definition connotes honesty and morality, is really a picture of wholeness. If a person has integrity, he or she is the same person inside and out. She’s a person who lives the values she professes. He’s a person who is honest and open about his personal life because he has nothing to hide. As I’m sure we’ve all experienced, it’s a fight to be a person of integrity.

I’m wondering if when we consider integrity, we should think more in terms of an organizational culture that pauses to ask questions as we go about our daily work.

  • How can we be an organization that lives out values with openness and honesty and has a holistic approach to finances and administration? The values we profess should be evident in the way we use money, interact with donors and vendors and treat our resources.

  • How does this reflect our values?

  • Is this empowering something God wants us to do?

  • Even if this action is legal would I want all the people involved in our organization to see this?

  • Most lapses in integrity happen as a gradual eroding over time — maybe training ourselves to ask questions in the small daily decisions will strengthen our integrity for the long-haul.

I wonder if in addition to all forms filed and paperwork in line, we create a culture in which each action involving funds gives leaders pause to consider not just if the action is within set rules but if it embraces the values the organization professes. When we follow rules our motivation is external — we don’t want to get in trouble. When we pursue integrity, we bring God into the small questions and actions of our days to build a life of integrity. It grows something beautiful. Could organizational finances really be beautiful?

Maintaining true integrity will always be a battle — against our selfishness and pride and sense of entitlement. When we follow rules and focus on compliance, we risk becoming legalistic or people who block ministry in the name of safety. When we ask the question of what God is doing and how can we shape it in a way that is both compliant and full of integrity, we empower kingdom work.

-Brook Maturo

Former Finance Director

Cultivating a Love of Invisibility

What does being a missionary look like working in finance? Most of my day involves making sure bills get paid, reports get compiled, and missionaries get walked through budgets and expense reports. I believe deeply and passionately that where I am now is in obedience to God and builds the Kingdom, but it’s easy to lose sight of that when a lot of what I do doesn’t look like what culturally might be dubbed “ministry”.

I read a couple books recently that got me thinking of the many ways our society, and really the Kingdom, is driven by people who operate daily without being seen.* Maybe I was drawn to them because I sometimes indulge dreams of being in more visible ministry. It often feels we live in a culture where extroverted, visible leadership is glorified, even in church and ministry circles. It has moved me to look for the unique rewards of serving in the background.

I don’t think I’m alone in finding it easy to get addicted to outside approval — the feeling of being adored, approved of, applauded gives anyone a jolt of good feelings. That feeling can be addictive. Yet I’m becoming aware of a special sweetness to doing something that no one but God sees — laying down my life in a way that is just pure obedience, nothing quantifiable other than feeling God’s pleasure and the love of what I have been called to do. Here are three things I’m learning to appreciate about being invisible:

The power of integrity. The strength of my integrity is never great than when I choose to do the right thing when no one is looking and probably no one will ever know. The choices I make in secret, usually the small ones that seem insignificant, build the strength of that integrity for when it the big things loom. It’s part of walking the way of the cross — denying the desire for ease or gain to do the right thing. Those choices bear the kind of fruit that is truly satisfying.

The power in prayer. It’s hard not to seem trite when talking about prayer as the unseen work, but it is the ultimate invisible ministry. Many needs cross my path during the day, big and small, and it’s a challenge to take them to prayer before tackling them with my own resources. In those times I do remember to pray, I get to be part of what God is doing and am blessed. It’s like an inside joke or special secret between God and me.

The power in small things. Early in my Christian walk, I thought of ministry as intense moments strung together and earnestly sought those moments. With some years behind me, it feels more like a hike — slow and steadily climbing. It seems like doing the things in front of me and being faithful doesn’t seem like much until I look up and see something beautiful that God has done while I’ve been moving step by step. If I focused on what was seen, I would miss those beautiful things.

So these days I’m trying to cultivate a love of invisibility. I’m finding power in the invisible and unseen things God is doing and trying to keep my heart in line with His purposes. I am thankful to be able to spend the bulk of my hours, my treasure, my energies, my mind and my talents doing the largely unseen work. And I am fighting my bend to want to be seen and affirmed so I can gain the greater joy or pleasing God.

*If you’re curious the books are:

Invisible: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion by David Zweig

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

-Brook Maturo

Former Finance Director

One More Thing that Makes Underground Unique

It might be hard from an outside perspective to appreciate the way we handle financial matters here at the Underground. Perhaps it looks similar with offering boxes, online giving and many of the ways we put checks and balances in place which are similar to other churches. But there are several things which make us unique in the way we approach finances.

· We limit the number of times we ask for funds. One of the reasons Core Conference is so important is that it is the one time of year we openly ask for money. Rather than revisiting our needs week after week, we want to present the vision, gather commitments and then move on the rest of the year serving God, loving people and equipping missionaries to live out their calling.

· Our general budget is a small but essential part of a bigger picture.Our budget for 2014 was roughly $620,000. But we actually collected nearly $2 million dollars in donations. We keep our general budget funds separate from what our microchurches and staff raise. Our general budget serves to support and empower a work that is bigger than the operation at the Hub. And since we give 50% of that budget away, we do an amazing amount of work on just over $300,000. This budget puts into place an infrastructure that supports work around the world.

· Our spending is completely transparent Did you know that you can look up how the Underground spends every dollar we receive? Using tools like Guidestar and the Foundation Center’s 990 Finder, you can view our full nonprofit tax return. Because we have chosen to operate as a nonprofit, rather than a church which is exempt from this filing, our financial operations are open and accessible to the public.

During Core Conference, we will be hosting a budget dinner during which Brian will present the budget and you will have a chance to ask any questions you have. On the Sunday of Core Conference we will be asking those who call Underground their family to make a commitment towards that budget. You can prepare now by looking at your personal budget for the year and asking God to lead you in the grace of giving. If you feel you want to be on the front lines and make an early pledge, Click here. You can also watch a video here of Brian explaining how our budget is unique.

As we start a new year, we are humbled by the way this community comes together to do so much with relatively little. We look forward to seeing what God has for us in 2015.

-Brook Maturo

Former Finance Director

Are You Ready to Start a Nonprofit?

Some ways to know if starting a non-profit organization is a good fit for you…

Most weeks, I get to talk to a person or two who has a dream of starting something that will make the world better. It’s one of my favorite parts of my job. Often, the automatic thought is to start a nonprofit (often referred to as a 501(c)3 after the IRS statute that gives tax exemption to qualifying organizations). For some, this seems like a scary process wrought with potential pitfalls that result in IRS men clad in dark suits knocking at your door. Others are more cavalier thinking it’s a simple process that will enable them to get paid to do what they are passionate about.

The reality is somewhere in the middle. There are many laws, regulations and ethical standards that need to be taken into account when starting a nonprofit or tax-exempt organization. But these are pretty straightforward and can be navigated with a support team familiar with the legal and record-keeping procedures necessary. Conversely, jumping into the process without a good handle on what running an organization effectively entails can cause problems that will shipwreck great ideas. Here are some suggestions to evaluate whether you are ready to start a nonprofit:

· Your idea is truly unique. There are lots of people already serving many needs in your community. It is possible that what God has put on your heart is part of a bigger story. Look around your community or church to evaluate whether the idea on your heart is already being pursued in a way you can jump into. You will experience joy in finding others with a similar heart and may avoid the pressure that comes with striking out on your own.

· You have already been doing the work for at least a year. Often, the idea of serving a particular population or addressing a particular need comes with expectations of how that will work. In reality, those expectations may be off-base. If you have an idea, it’s a good idea to start working that area in your spare time to see how the reality of the work fits the ideas you have. There’s nothing magic about the 1-year point, but it’s long enough to require some perseverance and give you a decent assessment if your idea.

· You are fairly certain you want to make this idea your life’s work.Because of the resources, both personal and financial, entailed in getting a new organization off the ground you will want to honestly assess what you think about the longevity of your commitment to your idea. If it’s just an idea your are floating for a year or two, starting a nonprofit might not be a good idea. If you feel relatively certain that this is something you believe in enough to do for the next 10 years, then it might be time to take the jump.

· You have a small team willing to take on responsibility for the organization. At minimum, you will need a Board of Directors. These aren’t just folks who will give you a pat on the back and tell you that your idea is fabulous. This would be at least 3 other people who would be willing to take legal responsibility for an organization and slog through the process of forming the organization with you. These are the folks who will be writing your bylaws, helping you hammer out a reasonable budget, make a strategic plan, evaluate the integrity of all actions and support you in making the risky calls on what direction to take your ministry. A nonprofit is not a lone ranger activity – this step is essential.

· You have a network of resources. Forming an organization will take time, money and expertise. You will want a network of people you know and trust who are willing to lend a hand with donating funds, fundraising, legal advice, volunteer recruitment, record-keeping, etc.

If you look through this list and think you aren’t ready to start an organization but still have a passion for something, don’t give up that dream. Keep doing what you are already doing and see where God takes you. Look for these things to fall into place in the future or keep working as a volunteer. Most of Underground Network’s ministries operate this way – some raise a little money through us but most just keep serving on evenings and weekends with their families giving time and personal resources to see the kingdom come. Find an organization that will support and empower that dream and keep pursuing what God has given you.

If you look through this list and think your idea is a good fit and ready to start an organization, don’t let fear hold you back. Ideas and visions are worth pursuing. Gather some people who will walk with you and believe in what God has called you to and take the plunge.

Regardless of the structure you pursue, don’t discount what God is doing when you have dreams and take steps of faith. God works in the details and you will be amazed to see what He will do with a small band of committed people.

-Brook Maturo

Former Finance Director

Why I Love Working in Finance

Whenever I tell someone I work in nonprofit finance, I generally get one of two reactions — either a blank stare (usually with a sympathetic nod) or something to the effect of, “So you are the bean counter” or “That can’t be a fun job.” While finance and administration are not glamorous ministries (and there are certainly days when it does feel like glorified paperwork) here are a few reasons why I love serving as Finance Director for the Underground:

  • The role of a finance or administrative person is pastoral. While I do a lot of number crunching, bill paying and report preparing many times I’m playing a pastoral role. It might be walking a microchurch leader through making his first budget or demystifying a profit and loss report for a leader trying to make important decisions affecting her ministry, I play a pastoral role. I am calming fears, holding people accountable to the budgets they create and making sure finances don’t hold a ministry back or don’t bring unnecessary headaches to someone laboring in the kingdom. To me, that is a privilege and high calling.

  • Our finance department holds the potential to be prophetic. I believe that thorough, effective, transparent systems are a prophetic voice in the world and in the kingdom of God. In American culture, money and the corresponding power dynamics and temptations are a stronghold — even, and perhaps especially, in churches and ministry organizations. Systems that address and redeem those systems are built by daily tasks done with integrity and excellence. In the end, God is honored and the people we serve are released for kingdom work.

· I find joy in creating systems that are efficient and thorough. A system that fulfills the requirements of legal accountability and ethical transparency without causing an unnecessary burden to people in ministry can be a thing of beauty. Finding a way to empower someone to do something risky God has called him to do within the confines of the law brings a smile to my face. Processes that enable people to move forward with kingdom dreams with faith and confidence bring me joy. In the end it’s being a small, not very visible part of a group of people who bring God’s heart joy.

I work with the daily awareness that every dollar the Underground Network receives represents an act of worship — resources that people have made the decision, often at significant sacrifice, to dedicate to God and entrust to our organization to manage. With that in mind, numbers become less of a mystifying bore and more of a picture of how God is working among us. What an honor it is to serve these people in this way.

-Brook Maturo

Former Finance Director