The Importance of Vision
How to overcome the end of year Financial Crisis
If you have been around churches long enough you will have seen or experienced a scenario something like the following. At the end of the year either the treasurer or the senior minister stands before the congregation and tells them that the church is behind budget and asks people to dig deep to make up the shortfall. There are lots of negatives here.
First, while it may be necessary it doesn’t convey the feeling that the church is powering ahead and kicking goals for Christ’s kingdom.
Second, the appeal is framed in terms of need rather than vision. Remember that money doesn’t follow need, it follows vision.
Third, and this is closely allied to the above, the appeal addresses budget shortfall. Budget is a perfectly acceptable word and very necessary in terms of responsibly running a church. However, the term should be banned in any discussion of raising money. Budgets don’t fire up the juices of the average parishioner who don’t want their money plugging up holes in a leaky ship.
Fourth, this request generally means the church is not having an alternative appeal such as a Christmas request for a mission project. The visionary project often gives way to the ‘stop the leak’ project.
It is not at all unusual for a church to be around five percent behind budget and while this should not be ignored neither is the sky falling in. So what should be done? In my book Giving Generously I detail how to raise money for local church ministry. If such a process is conducted prayerfully, boldly and sensitively people get excited about the ministry and will give to it. One of the items I describe, is a request to support up to six special projects. One of these projects was called ‘Our Church Our Ministry’. My successor at Figtree Anglican Church helpfully broadened the name to ‘Our Church Our Community’.
What it is in effect saying, is, please contribute some funds that can be used by the church leadership in any way that is beneficial. Where people trust the leadership and are generally supportive of the ministry and direction of the church, this project is often amazing well supported. Naturally the funds can be used in a range of ways. One would be to assist the seed funding of a new staff member. Another may be topping up the shortfall in one of the other projects. Another might be paying for any expenses that may have been generated in running the financial campaign in the first place.
However, some of the funds can also be used to fill in any end of year shortfalls. Naturally this won’t the primary way in which the money should be used. It should go into visionary projects. However sometimes this is necessary and it is far better than going cap in hand to the congregation close to Christmas. An appeal at Christmas is an opportunity to stimulate generosity to an outside worthy cause. For more on this topic and raising money for ministry, see my book Giving Generously. https://givinggenerously.com/buy-the-book-2/