"Facts" about your church and money: take a closer look
Here are six things church leaders often believe are facts. They all deserve a closer look, because they get in the way of finding the resources you need to carry out ministry.
- We don’t have enough money. In fact, a vision of God’s call gives you the energy to find the money to fulfill the call. It's not about the dollars, but the clarity of vision.
- Our people are giving all they can. The average Christian gives about 2% of their income. Of course, people struggle with debt which can make it hard to decide to give more. (See this article by Israel Galindo.) Yet most people can make some choices (give up a daily latte, for example) which will enable them to give more, if they have a reason to do so.
- Money is the root of all evil. Many church people are afraid of dealing with money, talking openly about it and spending it appropriately on ministry. They may not say that money is the root of all evil, but they act like it. Of course, the real biblical quite is “the love of money is the root of all evil.” (I Timothy 6:10)
- Cutting the budget is our only choice. There are times for a thoughtful budget cutback. Yet all too often, that’s the first resort, not the last. Instead of “How are we going to cut the budget so it balances, a different question is, “What are the many ways we can have a balanced or close-to-balanced budget?” Try it. You’ll come up with a variety of solutions to choose from.
- People will get upset if we talk about money more. Given that many churches only talk about it once a year, “more” doesn’t mean much of an increase. A quarterly focus on giving, or on how to grow a spiritual approach to our resources, will be a real contribution to your people. And the people who get most upset usually are giving nothing.
- We’re a poor church. You’re only a poor church if you think you are. A key leader said to one minister, “This should be a poor church.” Sometimes leaders think the people need to think the church is poor or they won’t keep giving. In fact, people are more likely to be motivated to give to a going concern that has a lively mission.
How many of these do you or your leaders believe? Could you affirm instead:
- We have enough money to do what God is calling us to do
- Many of our people could give more if they felt the call to do so.
- Money is a resource for ministry.
- There are many options for approaching our financial challenges.
- People need us to talk about money more for the sake of their spiritual growth.
- We are a wealthy church, thinking globally and historially.
Rev. Margaret Marcuson helps ministers do their work without wearing out or burning out, through ministry coaching, presentations and online resources. Margaret is the author of Leaders Who Last: Sustaining Yourself and Your Ministry and MoneyandYour Ministry: Balance the Books While Keeping Your Balance. She served as a pastor for 15 years.
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