This was written five years ago but may still be relevant to numerous congregations today so we’re sharing it with you now.
The Church Council meeting was tough. The country and the world are in a recession. Fuel bills had sky-rocketed and now staff health insurance has been raised for the third time in as many years. The Council was looking at three options: 1) delete the coverage for staff spouses and families; 2) move to a plan with a much higher deductible and less benefits; or 3) reduce staff. It seemed like there was no good solution.
Has a recession hit your church? In a recent informal, phone survey conducted by Church Doctor Ministries, we discovered what pastors report about congregational giving compared to one year ago. What do you think we found? A. Giving is up. B. Giving is down. C. Giving is the same.
Answer: All of the above! The answer is not related to Wall Street. It goes back to biblical stewardship and how you choose to look at these economic times.
Focus on these issues:
- Among the churches we have consulted (over 1,400 from 65 denominations), the average percentage of active members who tithe or more (10%+) is 30%. There is room to grow!
- The percentage of those who approach financial giving as proportionate (a percentage, not a dollar figure) is 31%. Many don’t know the biblical approach!
- The Church Council is using the cut-back syndrome: “we’re short on cash, we need to cut back.” This is bad theology. Is God a god of scarcity, or a god of abundance?
- Good staff is the greatest asset of the church. If they are bad staff, fire them or help them find another calling. If they are good staff, don’t punish them when you’re economically stretched.
- Staff members are burdened now more than ever. People with financial struggles are coming to them. They are working harder in these challenging economic times. They are already sacrificing!
- Go to your people. Challenge them: not to “meet the shortfall,” but to “step up.” In other words, don’t be reactive, but proactive.
- Recognize (preach and teach) that when things are at their worst, Christians are at their best.
- The harvest has never been more ripe! Unbelievers who put their hope in materialism are now receptive to Jesus Christ. It is time to step up and step out.
- Every year, regularly, teach and preach the biblical principles of stewardship. (Those are the churches whose giving is up during this economic recession.)
The Church Council needs biblical leadership from their pastor. Most won’t “get it” without that leadership. If you ask the staff to sacrifice and not the congregation, you’re targeting the wrong group. You will succeed in de-motivating your greatest asset. Your church’s ministry will lose long after the recession is over. Focus on biblical principles. If everyone did that, there would be no recession—in the nation or at church!
How has your church regained financial health during a recession? We welcome your comments below.
Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by email, Twitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.