This series of posts is based on the metaphor of a drought, which was introduced previously. I think churches are facing a prolonged drought because of changes in beliefs and values of Generation X, the Millennials and Generation Z. Just as agricultural operations adapt to survive in droughts, I’m convinced churches can do the same.
During a drought, finances get tight in agricultural communities. Farmers respond to lower income and higher costs in at least two ways: Farm more efficiently and/or find additional sources of income.
Farming more efficiently usually starts with a review of processes. Are we using too much fertilizer? Are we wasting irrigation water? Can we do a better job prevent top soil erosion?
During the current drought for churches, congregations can do the same.
For churches, the issue is how to be the best stewards possible of the resources God has provided. This leads congregational leaders to ask questions such as the following.
- “Would we better served adding two part-time specialists as opposed to one full time professional church worker?”
- “Is there a less expensive internet provider?”’
- “How can we ensure we can access endowment funds for a wide range of congregational needs?”
Another way churches look at stewardship is providing additional avenues for members to financially.
- Personal online giving, where members can manually direct funds from an account to their congregation.
- Automated online giving, where members set up an account that has scheduled withdraws that go as offerings.
- Text to give, which allows members to text funds.
- Non-cash gifts, which is usually gifting stocks or bonds.
In agriculture, additional sources of income are tied to personal skills and opportunities for work. I’ve seen underemployed ranch hands find part-time work welding and repairing machinery. I spoke recently with a farmer who started an online business selling used implement parts to help make ends meet.
Churches also can find additional sources of income. In fact, I think multiple sources of funding will become the norm for congregations. A cursory review of congregations I’ve worked with the past few years surfaced the following:
- Churches starting early learning centers to share Christ with children, provide a service to the community and help fund facility and utility costs.
- Churches opening social enterprises, such as coffee shops and clothing stores, to engage with the community and raise funds for ministry.
- Churches renting their facilities to community organizations.
- Churches providing consulting services to other churches for financial donations.
How could your church diversify to fund ministry? Share your thoughts in the comments or shoot me an email.
Additional posts in this series include: