July 17, 2009
How are churches responding to the economy? Listen to the church bull session with Dave Travis, Reggie McNeal, and Chris Willard that appeared on Leadership Network’s The Show on May 12, 2009.
- Scarcity leads to clarity
- Some churches seeing largest offerings ever for community needs
- Great opportunity to show the community you are not in the church but in the people business
- Churches are reallocating resources in ways that may be permanent even after the recession is over.
Tim Stevens on his Leading Smart blog points out these highlights from a recently released study on the economy’s impact on nonprofits:
- 48% reported that their first quarter donations were down from the previous year.
- 44% froze salaries and 28% of the organizations had to reduce full-time positions.
- 32% believe this recession is unique and has caused permanent economic damage that is taking us into an undefined era of a “new normal.”
Download “The Recession’s Impact on Christian Nonprofit Organizations” produced by J. David Schmidt and Associates
May 13, 2009
Leadership Network’s study “How the Economic Slump Is (or Isn’t) Hitting Churches” documents how some churches are responding to the economic recession.
Here are excerpts from the study:
In response to the economic downturn, churches are almost universally budgeting with greater caution and increased transparency. They want their people to know they are exercising great care in financial stewardship. Churches are also doing specific things to help their own people and the surrounding community.
A significant number of churches (85%) are planning at least two initiatives in 2009 to help the people in their congregations learn to manage their finances and giving consistent with Biblical principles. This includes:
- Offering financial classes, groups or seminars
- Preaching a sermon and/or series on finances and/or generosity
- Conducting an annual stewardship drive
- Making financial/generosity pamphlets available
- Having volunteer budget/debt counselors available
- Offering increased online/electronic giving options
Nearly a third of the churches he surveyed indicated they would be increasing their dollars for benevolence ministries to help people in their church and/or communities weather difficult financial times.
A great, specific example is from the Vineyard Church of Columbus, OH, where Rich Nathan is pastor. They created a task force consisting of Vineyard pastors and business people from the church. Ways they are helping people deal with the challenges of the recession include:
- A series of job networking events designed to connect qualified job candidates with employers and HR professionals
- A series of symposiums on subjects such as home foreclosure, accessing unemployment benefits and other public benefits
- On-going classes and programs in areas such as starting your own business, practical job search skills, career coaching, buying a home for the first time, and financial counseling
- Support groups and weekly intercessory prayer meetings for people who have lost jobs
- Provision of free health care at their two health clinics, plus baby clothes, diapers, and formula
- Collaboration with a local immigration services agency to care for the specific needs of international refugees
- A food pantry available for church members and those who live in specific zip codes in Columbus
Another great example of a church responding to the economic downturn comes from Toby Slough, pastor of Cross Timbers Community Church, Argyle, TX . Cross Timbers is continually raising the bar for caring. On March 1, 2009, Toby instructed the congregation, “If you need money today to feed or house your family, please take money out of the offering plate, rather than putting money in.” Two weeks later, the church collected its biggest offering of the year—and Toby responded by announcing that the church would pay the utility bills for any members who had lost their jobs. Notably, by the time of that record-breaking offering, Toby and the other church leaders had already decided to give substantial sums to those in need, but had chosen not to announce their intentions in advance. Toby insisted that he wanted to help people because it was the right thing to do, not because he thought it would spur greater giving. The church has also given out financial gift cards to people in need—and recently decided to donate 100% of its Easter 2009 offering to people in need.
The varieties of creative ways churches are helping their peoples and communities seem endless. Healing Place Church, Baton Rouge, LA, and Celebration Church, Jacksonville, FL, have each done largescale gift card giveaways for WalMart. North Point Community Church, Alpharetta, GA, has developed a support group for people seeking a new job.
Rockbridge Seminary students who have taken the online course “The Theology and Practice of Ministry” may be helped by reading more or even downloading the full study (Learnings @ Leadership Network).
May 5, 2009
The learning moments stand out in my mind.
Seminary. Chapel speakers. Guest lecturers. Leaders God was using. Ministries God was blessing.
Listening for clues. Trying to find the leadership model. Q & A. The leader glimpse. The ministry snapshot. Understanding ministry better.
More insights into my SHAPE. More focus in my journey.
Today, in the digital world, Rockbridge Seminary students have many more opportunities to learn from leaders. For instance, Leadership Network is launching a 15 minute conversation with a different ministry leader every week. They call it “The Show: Strategic Conversations on the Church.”
Their first guest will be Pastor Dino Rizzo. Read this brief bio. Is this someone you can learn from if you get to hang out with him for 15 minutes and ask a few questions?
Dino is the founding pastor of Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana – a church with over 7,000 people in 11 campuses and 18 weekend services. HPC has been named one of America’s Top 25 Most Innovative Churches – a reflection of his overwhelming drive to reach the unreachable and to engage with others to show God’s love to the poor and hurting – wherever they are. His book, SERVOLUTION, exposes his passion to see believers join together in a revolution of serving others – Jesus style. Dino will be talking about the necessity of ‘reaching the one’ and the importance of ministering to people who are different than us.
Leadership Network is offering you an incredible opportunity to get a “leader glimpse” each week. An opportunity to learn about what God is doing in the Kindom. How He is using servant leaders. How He may want to use you.
The Show website
Hat tip Mary Beth Stockdale