Principles of Local Church 11 Handling the Skinny Cows

I don’t want to speak negative ever, but life can be seasonal. Sometimes you are in a great season of growth and peace and abundance, and sadly in that place you are vulnerable to be deceived. You are vulnerable to what John Wesley called the temptations of success. Jesus called it the deceitfulness of riches. Doing well can lie to you!

One of the lies that you will face when you are doing well is the temptation not to save or prepare for the future. After all, you are in such abundance, why should you save for a rainy day, when it’s always sunny in your church and your life?

That is one of the greatest reasons rich people become poor – they never prepare for a rainy day. They assume it is going to be year after year of fat cows and they never save for the skinny cow. Good times are so good it is hard to believe that there is a cow out there powerful enough to swallow them up!

I have counselled several pastors to save money during their fat cow years so that the skinny cows don’t destroy them, and I have been told I am negative, don’t get faith, don’t understand things. Oh I understand! I understand as I watch the same pastors struggle and call me and beg me for money. I watch ministries hire far too many people because it is fat cow time and they then struggle later to grow and move into what God is calling them to next.

Do ministries have to lay people off? Do churches have skinny cow times? Are there hardships? We lost a whole bunch of people one year in our church because another ministry lied about me and my leaders, and told those lies so often and so boldly people started to believe them! I had to cope through that, preach through that, and deal with the skinny cow year as much as the fat cat year. I am not saying God cannot provide, but I am saying sometimes God provides double manna on Friday not so we can gorge ourselves Friday but so that we can be prepared for Saturday!

If you understand that some of the fat cow is to be saved you will be wiser, not just with money, but with people, but in life. Joseph believed there were lean years ahead, and that made him so wise, he became prime minister.

All of us in whatever we are doing must prepare for the future. The church must be ready for the future, we must be making disciples who can stand a lean cow year, we must be saving for the lean cow year, we must not be exhausting the fat cows each year. Selah!

Gather the food of good years, and store it! That food will be to keep for the famine years! (see Genesis 41). You need faith to do this, and wisdom. The easy thing is just to enjoy today and exhaust all its blessings today. Why would I spend money on a problem that doesn’t exist? Why would I work hard when I can hire three people to do the job of one today? Why spend money on things that may never happen? Why invest in the dreams of a madman?

I believe God shows His people things to come. If He does show you something, get ready for it. No one is impressed if you saw the lean cow coming. They are impressed if you have a barn full of food! Selah.

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Tree of Life Church

We are a growing network of growing churches, with services weekly in Dagenham, Guildford, Watford, Croydon, Brentwood and Dorset. We are also planting churches in Cambridge, Suffolk, West Midlands and Hemel. Find out more at, and

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