One of the challenges created by the Coronavirus is the loss of anticipated income for ministry and mission. A recent survey conducted by Vibrant Congregations and the Center for Church Renewal discovered that three quarters of churches are receiving three quarters or less of budgeted income. Gratefully, most churches have some financial reserves for these challenge times. Still, many churches will need to reorient ministry to reflect new financial realities.
Here are 7 important investments churches should make when resources diminish:
Investment 1: Pray with expectation
Prayer should be the first investment when facing a resource challenge. Scripture highlights unexpected ways God miraculously provides in difficult times including a bottomless jar of oil and a coin found in a fish’s mouth. James says, “You have not because you ask not.” Churches should ask for what they need.
Investment 2: Increase generosity
This seems counter-intuitive, giving more when getting less. This investment isn’t about throwing resources to the wind but acknowledging we cannot out give God. As we are generous with our time, our love and our commitment to help those in need we can expect God’s generosity to also meet our needs.
Investment 3: Look for dripping faucets
Everyone knows dripping faucets accumulate a lot of water in a short amount of time. Churches sometimes have small financial drips where unnecessary recurring expenses create outsized financial outcomes. Review every aspect of spending to eliminate any unnecessary spending.
Investment 4: Create a new mission-focused budget
For many churches a new budget will have to be created for the remainder of the year. This new budget should reflect the financial resources being received and triage dollars to essential mission-critical investments. Ask this question, “Given our mission where should first dollars flow?”
Investment 5: Keep God’s people informed
God’s people regularly rise to the challenge of meeting real ministry needs. Keep financial information flowing to the church. Present them with a challenge and clarify how they can participate in the larger vision of what your congregation is seeking to accomplish in Jesus’ name.
Investment 6: Enhance the practices of giving
One reason giving has declined is that old ways of bringing tithes and offerings no longer apply. Make sure your on-line giving portal is easy to navigate and provide instructions for members as they learn new giving tools. Churches should also make available pre-addressed and pre-paid giving envelopes.
Investment 7: Make compassionate plans
The challenge with most church budgets is that the lion’s share of spending is connected to salaries. When significant ministry cuts must be made it usually demands reducing salaries or eliminating positions. Plan for this with thoughtfulness and compassion so staff have the opportunity to land on their feet.