Some principles for going beyond tithes and offerings
The Coming Revolution in Church Economics
By Mark DeYmaz & Harry Li
To overcome the problem of stagnant or declining tithes and offerings—a problem your church may be facing at this moment or perhaps one it will face in the future—it’s not enough to think outside the box. Rather, you must free your mind. To advance the coming revolution in church economics and position our churches for long-term sustainability we must avoid unnecessary fears and the intrinsic limitations of a scarcity mindset.
Everyone understands that it takes money to establish and sustain a local church. Lots of it! This is why denominations and networks tend to steer church planters toward more affluent or upwardly mobile communities in which live people who can more readily afford to underwrite such efforts. The result? The fastest-growing and largest churches in the United States tend to be in the most affluent suburbs of our cities. Sure, God is at work in those churches and places, and pastoring a large church is no easy task. But we should ask why so many pastors believe they are called to plant, grow, or develop churches in these areas—ironically, churches that can afford to pay them well. Is the Lord really sending so many of them to upwardly mobile communities while people in more difficult contexts, including the urban environment, remain largely neglected? Or, perhaps, are some “callings” more informed by pragmatic finances? In the future, church planters should be encouraged by denominations and networks to go where the needs of people in a city are greatest, without fear of financial failure, and be equipped to minimize financial risks through the application of smart economics.
Ministry leaders embracing a mindset of abundance are able to envision possibilities, inspire optimism, capitalize on opportunities, and unleash entrepreneurial creativity in the church. Concerning the financial future of their congregations, they do not sit idle, hoping good things will happen. Instead, they “get after it” and make good things happen. By leveraging church assets they establish profitable business enterprise, create jobs, reduce local crime, produce tax revenue, resurrect abandoned property, and provide emotional hope to their communities. In so doing, the gospel, the local church, and the kingdom of God are advanced through the application of wise and benevolent church economics.
To be such a revolutionary leader you must first free your mind. Only then will you be able to embrace a mindset of abundance and position your church for long-term sustainability through the disruptive innovation of its economics. Take a moment to imagine the possibilities.
Imagine without restriction what a better understanding of economics might mean for your church today and what opportunities might be worth pursuing in light of it tomorrow. Solve similar but simpler financial challenges first before pursuing bolder (riskier) initiatives in order to increase the odds of success in learning how to overcome the problem of stagnant or declining tithes and offerings.
Eyes Wide Open
Daniel Cook writes, “While there are hundreds of ways that churches can bring in additional income, it is imperative to do this with a solid business plan utilizing business minds … and in some cases outside consultants.” So where might you begin in terms of considerations? Michael Feuer suggests, “Take your biggest issue, envision solutions, commit to the most logical or innovative fix, and then set a time frame for completion. Put one of your best and brightest in charge. And don’t be afraid to fail. Even if you succeed only one out of three or four times, the math likely still works. By accepting ‘that’s the way it is’ as a mindset (docile acquiescence) you’ll always follow, but never lead.”
As for strategy, Cook suggests the following five steps for pastors and churches looking to move forward:
1. Develop goals and objectives that are both short and long term. Methodologies should be included to get your congregations on board.
2. Identify the income strategy that best fits your ministry, facility, and community.
3. Select revenue source(s) to pursue. Research each of these and gain expertise either internally or through consultants.
4. Write and execute a revenue source (business) plan.
5. Evaluate the results quarterly while continually striving for improvement.
Cook concludes, “The easiest money you will ever raise is the money you will no longer need by operating your existing facilities wisely from a standpoint of reducing costs on energy, maintenance and janitorial expenses,” or by generating rental income and monetizing existing services.
These principles are important to understand and critical for churches to apply.
Excerpted from The Coming Revolution in Church Economics by Mark DeYmaz and Harry Li. Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright 2019. Used by permission. BakerPublishingGroup.com