Your Church Isn’t Poor, You Just Need to Align Resources

by | November 28, 2017

If your church is wrestling to balance funding with your current needs for ministry, be sure you assess the full range of resources in your portfolio. Many churches that think they are poor are actually undiagnosed church hoarders. The key to overcoming this problem is to align resources with impact.

A while back a song stuck in my mind, and I go back to it again and again. It’s a humorous song by Diamond Rio, titled ‘Stuff!’ (You can give it a listen on iTunes.) The chorus goes:

“Stuff, Stuff! Stack it on up
Stuff! never gonna ever get enough, Stuff!
Oh it’s treasure till it’s mine then it ain’t worth a dime
It’s stuff, Stuff! spreading like weeds
Dragging me under in an endless sea of stuff
Stuff! There ain’t no end
Got to get a bigger place so I can move in
More Stuff!”

From the first time I heard it, these lyrics reminded me of Luke 12:

[Jesus] told a parable, “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’  Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’  But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’  So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

– Luke 12:16-21

This parable speaks to the issue of hoarding. We think it is just a personal problem, but churches face the same struggle.

Has your church become a hoarder?

Many congregations make a pastime of discussing how poor their church is. In some cases, this discussion goes on while the church retains significant resources in the bank, or has misdirected energy in ministry. Before you decide everything is going down the tubes, find out if your church has become a hoarder.

Explore any church with history, and you’re likely to find back closets and old artifacts of ministry days gone by. But church hoarding isn’t just a reality for congregations that still have upstairs classrooms with shag carpet; it is true for any church that is hanging on to resources, a program or idea whose effectiveness is long gone.

Is your church guilty of hoarding? Here are some questions to consider in order to better align your resources with impact.

 

Do you have financial sacred cows?

Is there money in designated accounts waiting to be spent on organ pipes, or stained-glass windows, or office equipment? Is this money routinely considered untouchable? Have any of these funds lingered in the bank for 20 years or more? Are there funds designated for any purpose that you have no plan for spending? Then it may be time to track down donors or their heirs and seek permission to release those funds for new ministry. Your denomination or congregational bylaws will provide guidance on this.

Your financial assets are blessings to be shared, not kept on account with no plan forward. Bill Easum taught the great truth: All of God’s blessings only come to us on their way to someone else. How can your church leverage dead-end designated funds to help new groups in your community? 

 

Do you have annual programs or staff positions that need retiring or reworking? 

One church recently retired an annual separate mission pledge and consolidated all giving into a single annual financial commitment. What had been a great idea, faded as directed giving declined and attendance and enthusiasm for a separate mission celebration waned. The change was to integrate the mission celebration into an annual stewardship emphasis and ask those making separate commitments to combine their giving. It worked! Overall giving actually grew, and new energy gathered around missions.

Does your church have programming that is just not working anymore? Are there staff positions that are a mismatch of resources and impact? These are delicate, detailed, and difficult issues, but failing to address them is one of the most frequent ways churches become hoarders.

 

Do your leaders operate from assumptions that limit the church’s mission?

Assumptions are ‘the way we think before we think.’ Finding your assumptions can be hard. What ministry has your church been unwilling to consider? What does your congregation assume you will do every year or every week? Discussing these questions does not mean you always take new actions or drop activities you value. But it does move you to clarify why you do what you do.

Without crystal clarity about how each ministry action supports the mission of the church, it can become a drag on the church’s long-term future. Of course, this means you need to have crystal clarity on the church’s mission and vision. Review your mission as a church in your unique setting at least every three years, and then plan how your ministry will support that mission.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Everything you need to inspire generosity.

RECENT Posts

Why Shifting Your Fiscal Year is a Next Level Generosity Best Practice

Shifting Your Fiscal Year

By shifting their fiscal year away from the traditional calendar, an estimated 40% of vital churches have become better equipped to manage ministry funding. In most churches, up to a third of yearly income is received in December.  In the next offering from Horizons’ Giving Intelligence Series, Managing Partner, Joe Park describes why moving to a non-traditional fiscal calendar should be one of your church’s best practices.

 

 

To find out more about Joe Park, click here.

 

Horizons’ Next Level Generosity (NLG) is a framework that enables church leaders to align people and resources to do more ministry. We’re not talking about a capital campaign, but a shift in culture that multiplies a church’s capacity to change lives and make a lasting impact on its community.  Churches that use NLG are reporting double-digit increases in year-over-year giving. To arrange a free 20-minute consultation to explore if NLG is right for you church visit nextlevelgenerosity.com or contact us at info@horizons.net

 

Did you miss the first installments in Horizons’ Giving Intelligence Series? Find them in our free Giving365 vault by clicking on the Giving365 logo below.

Giving365 - Blog - Horizons - church stewardship resource

 

 

Three Prescriptions for Curing a Scarcity Mindset

Do you hear things like, “Money is tight! We need to tighten our belts?” Or “People are giving all they can. We can’t ask them to do more?”

 

If the answer is yes, then your church may be afflicted with a scarcity mindset.

 

In this video, Kristine Miller, CFRE, Partner and SVP at Horizons, will discuss ways to overcome a scarcity mindset and the fear and hesitancy created by a glass-is-half-empty attitude. Also, you will learn how to build a culture that celebrates God’s abounding blessings and grows generous hearts.

 

In this next video in Horizons’ Giving Intelligence Series will help your church giving and move to the next level of generosity.

 

 

Horizons’ Next Level Generosity (NLG) framework can help you create and carry out your Generosity Battle Plan. Beginning with a comprehensive 360-degree analysis, your Horizons Ministry Strategist will create a clear and effective strategy for shifting your generosity culture. The result is more money for ministry and authentic life-change for your congregation. To arrange a free 20-minute consultation, contact info@horizons.net

 

Did you miss the first installments in Horizons’ Giving Intelligence Series? Find them in our free Giving365 vault by clicking on the Giving365 logo below.

Giving365 - Blog - Horizons - church stewardship resource

To find out more about Kristine Miller, click here.

 

What Church Leaders Need to Know About New Giving Trends

Ten years ago, in Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate, I voiced my concern that giving to religion, as a share of overall giving, had fallen significantly over the last several decades and was half of what it once was. At the time, the giving trends indicated that if we did not change the way we do overall stewardship in the church, the decline in giving would continue. Well, now it has happened!

 

For the first time ever, giving to religion as a percent of overall charitable donations has dropped below 30%.

 

For 2018, Giving USA reports gifts to religious organizations are down 1.5% to just 29% of total charitable giving. Total giving to charity rose to 427 billion dollars, but this came more from foundations and corporations and not from individuals–the church’s primary revenue source. On average, Americans gave away only 1.9% of their disposable income.

These giving trends are as alarming to me today as they were back in 2008 when I first rang the bell of concern. Financial resources are not our mission, but they are the fuel that propels the mission.

 

Without money, there can be no mission and no ministry in these days when the faith is struggling around the world.

 

What caused the latest decline? Some will blame the last tax law changes that significantly increased the standard deduction and thus reduced the number of people who itemize. Others will say that it just reflects that fewer people are in church and the world is more secular. I do not buy into the theory that the causes are all external and thus any solution must be external. I still hold to the conviction that the solution is within the church to save the church, but we have avoided the hard work necessary to make the cultural adjustment to get it done. In the strongest possible way, I am encouraging you to re-examine how you are teaching and preaching financial stewardship. How are you moving your church away from the stewardship methods of the 20th century and responding to a new 21st century culture?

 

How will you respond to the latest giving trends?

 

You do not need the new 2019 annual campaign in a box. You may not even need a capital campaign. What you do need is a systematic long-term culture shift that creates not just funds for the budget but generous hearts and minds. As I shared in my latest book God vs. Money, you need a Battle Plan.

Right now, many of you are thinking about what you are going to do for a fall stewardship emphasis. That is fine, but that is not going to fix the problem. Let me encourage you to form your fall campaign committee and put them to work if you must, but at the same time form another group that will go to work on a Battle Plan for generosity to change your whole church. If you are brave enough, go ahead and start to execute the plan ASAP and just skip the old approach. Why would you think just doing the same old thing will produce a different result? You may not be able to change America’s giving to religion, but you sure can do something to change your congregation to be generous followers of Christ.

 

Horizons’ Next Level Generosity (NLG) framework can help you create and carry out your Generosity Battle Plan. Beginning with a comprehensive 360-degree analysis, your Horizons Ministry Strategist will create a clear and effective strategy for shifting your generosity culture. The result is more money for ministry and authentic life-change for your congregation. To arrange a free 20-minute consultation, contact info@horizons.net

 

OUR NETWORK

Follow Us

PO Box 627
Cabot, Arkansas 72023

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This