Stewardship Leads to Financial Peace, But Generosity Is Only One Component of It: A Review of ‘The Generosity Ladder’ by Nelson Searcy

The Generosity Ladder Searcy, Nelson, and Jennifer Dykes Henson. 2010. The Generosity Ladder: Your Next Step to Financial Peace. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Many Americans live with financial stress but long for financial peace. In The Generosity Ladder, Nelson Searcy offers practical, biblical advice for how to fulfill that longing. Searcy mentions sound financial practices such as getting out of debt, creating a budget, and living within one’s means (38, 76, 103–105). But he focuses on how to “live an openhanded life,” which is the essence of Jesus’ teachings about money and possessions (33).

The openhanded life requires a paradigm shift: “your money is not yours. You are just a manager. God doesn’t give us increase so that we can be more comfortable or advance our lifestyle. He gives us more so that we can give more” (90). But it also involves taking incremental steps toward greater levels of giving, from “initial giving” (43) to “proportional giving” or tithing (54) to “sacrificial giving” (82). And it results in blessing: “When you begin tithing, God’s spiritual laws kick into high gear. Since you are honoring him, he honors you. I’m not promising his blessings are always going to be tangible. But they will be there, tangible and intangible” (73).

I don’t disagree with Searcy’s perspective on generosity. However, I was disappointed that a book about “financial peace” focused on only one aspect of the biblical teaching on financial stewardship and dealt so cursorily with sound financial practices. The whole biblical teaching is what leads to financial peace, not merely the generosity component of it.

The Generosity Ladder is short (about 100 pages), easy to read, and inexpensive ($6.99). If you register at, you will receive additional resources to use with the book. However, if pastors use this book in sermon series or church members in Sunday school or small groups, they should supplement it with Christian books that address other aspects of stewardship.

P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my review page.

Improving Your Church’s Ministry System: A Review of ‘Connect’ by Nelson Searcy

Connect Searcy, Nelson, and Jennifer Dykes Henson. 2012. Connect: How to Double Your Number of Volunteers. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

When it comes to a church’s volunteer ministries, the Pareto Principle seems to apply: 20 percent of church members do 80 percent of the work. This unbalanced ratio is both unbiblical, because all church members should be ministers, and inefficient, fostering burnout among the few and passivity and consumerism among the many.

Pastors and other church leaders who teach every-member ministry have solved the first problem, but the second problem often goes unsolved (or badly solved) because they don’t have a system in place to move members into ministry.

Nelson Searcy’s new book, Connect, outlines just such a system to “mobilize people for significant ministry” (30). Searcy is founding pastor of The Journey, a multisite church with locations in New York City and Boca Raton, Florida. He is also a prolific author and church consultant whose advice for pastors and church leaders can be accessed at

Searcy structures his advice for mobilizing people around four steps:

  1. Clarify your theology of ministry (chs. 1, 2).
  2. Create first-serve opportunities (chs. 3–5).
  3. Cultivate a ministry ladder (chs. 6–8).
  4. Celebrate and reproduce servants (chs. 9, 10).

His advice is empirically grounded, eminently practical, and systematic. The appendices include 40 pages of volunteer-related resources from The Journey. Readers can also register on his website for additional free resources.

The strength of this book is its presentation of a system for teaching voluntarism and recruiting, resourcing, and rewarding volunteers. The book’s most controversial recommendation is letting non-believers volunteer at certain levels in your church’s ministries.

I recommend Connect for pastors, church planters, and other ministry leaders who exercise significant oversight of a church’s volunteers. Whether or not they adapt all of Searcy’s recommendations, they will appreciate his insights into moving their church closer to the ideal of every-member ministry.

P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my review page.

Time, Talent, Treasure, Talk, and Testimony for the Benefit of Others: A Review of ‘The Greatness Principle’ by Nelson Searcy

The Greatness Principle Searcy, Nelson. 2012. The Greatness Principle: Finding Singificance and Joy by Serving Others. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

“When you bless others, God blesses you.”

That is how Nelson Searcy defines “The Greatness Principle.” At first glance, I worried that he was entering prosperity gospel territory, where our financial generosity becomes a quasi-legal obligation on God’s part to make us rich. But that is not Searcy’s point. Instead, building on Mark 9:33–35 and other New Testament passages, he encourages us to use our time, talent, treasure, talk, and testimony to benefit others.

As we live out this multiform love for neighbors, we begin to experience God’s blessings on us. Those blessings take tangible and intangible forms, and they include greater influence as well as visible miracles. Proverbs 11:25 puts it this way: “those who refresh others will be refreshed.”

The crucial question is this: Do we see both the multiple opportunities to bless others that cross our pass every day and the manifold ways God is in fact blessing us?

The Greatness Principle is short (95 pages), easy to read, and inexpensive ($6.99). Each chapter includes questions, making it desirable for use in personal study or small-group discussion. And if you register at, you will receive additional resources to use with the book.

P.S. If you found this review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my review page.

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