As the world continues reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, two key questions you may be facing are:
- How can you manage your church’s finances at a time like this?
- How can you help your church family manage their finances?
In the spirit of, “Put your oxygen mask on first,” we’ll start with your church.
Strengthening your Church’s Finances
- Be bold about sharing what your church is doing to help people in the church and your community. Is your church bringing meals to frontline workers? Helping to restock the local food pantry? Counseling people online? People want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and yet with the pandemic creating necessary distance between people, some may not know how they can help others right now. Show them how their generous support of the church is making a difference and encourage them to continue living generously.
- Be able to receive gifts and offerings online. There’s a technical aspect of this. If your church doesn’t have an online-giving platform, explore options from providers like Prolific Business Solutions. And there’s a unique communication aspect of this. Taking in a church service from home is different than doing so in church. There are more distractions. So, bring up the topic of the offering multiple times and dedicate sufficient time to explain how to give online.
- Be honest about where your church is at financially. If giving is down, no one will be surprised since some church members have lost their jobs. Explain all that you’re doing to manage resources wisely, how you may have had to redeploy resources in ways you couldn’t have envisioned at the start of the year, and any other realities of your church’s financial situation.
- Be bold with your requests. Yes, “Be bold” was the first bullet point, but it’s worth repeating this encouragement as it relates to communicating with those in your church who are financially strong. Families where employment has not been disrupted may actually have increased generosity capacity right now. With vacations cancelled or redirected toward lower-cost driving trips, with kids’ activities cancelled, and with less spending on entertainment, some families are in an especially advantageous position. Don’t be shy about encouraging those who are financially strong to go above and beyond their normal. Examples of uncommon generosity can be found in the Old Testament (Exodus 35:20-29) and the New Testament (Acts 4:32-35).
Strengthening your Church Community’s Finances
- Start a stewardship ministry. If you don’t have one, look to the Christian Stewardship Network (CSN) for help. CSN is an organization of stewardship ministers, directors, and volunteers whose mission is to help churches that don’t have stewardship ministries start one, and to help churches that do have stewardship ministries grow in impact.
- Expand your ministry. If you already have a stewardship ministry, now would be an ideal time to build out its capabilities. Consider these three areas of need:
- Unemployment. If you don’t have a career transitions capability, there are plenty of people looking for work right now. Network with other churches that offer help in this area to learn from them.
- Estate planning. Some people have been reminded through this crisis of the need to get their paperwork in order with a will or trust, power-of-attorney documents, a living will, and such. The Financial Planning Ministry can help.
- Investing. Many people in your church have a heightened awareness (and concerns!) about their investments. This would be a good time to introduce them to a biblical approach to investing. Multiply is a resource designed to teach people how to do that, whether in a small group setting or a workshop, and can be easily hosted online. Dan Celia’s Financial Issues Stewardship Ministries (FISM) offers financial stewardship information to help people be biblically responsible with their investing and increase their ability to give and grow the Kingdom of God. The Credit Union also partners with 49 Financial, which offers investment services.
For many people, when they look back on their lives, they point to times of difficulty as the times when they grew the most. While the pandemic has brought about many challenges, it also presents some wonderful opportunities — to become bolder in how you teach about generosity, to further disciple people toward other-centered living (Philippians 2:4), and to develop a more holistic stewardship ministry.
At Christian Community Credit Union, we are committed to helping pastors become better stewards, grow their ministries, and build God’s Kingdom. For more information, please visit myCCCU.com/ministry, call 800.347.CCCU (2228) ext. 6216, or email [email protected].
Matt Bell is the author of four Biblical money management books published by NavPress. He speaks at churches and conferences throughout the country and writes the MattAboutMoney blog.
This article should not be considered legal, tax, or financial advice. You may wish to consult a tax or financial advisor about your individual financial situation.