That Pesky Budget Shortfall

It’s catch up time for annual church budgets. And Christmas is often The Season of Hope in terms of balancing the church budget.

This is not just a time of inspiring choral programs and heartwarming children’s pageants, but church finance people pray that the well heeled among us will be inspired and warmed to the point of Giving Big before December 31st.

One of the more painful shifts in the 21st Century Church is the fact that people do not financially support the church like they used to. Or at least this is what we have come to believe.

  • Yes, it used to be true that Church People once pledged money to their congregations as their primary (and possibly their only) charitable giving.
  • Yes, it used to be true that it cost less to staff, program, and maintain a church that it does today.
  • Yes, it’s true that many of the institutional church’s most generous contributors are passing away or moving south to retire in the sun.
  • Yes it’s true that even our wealthiest congregations are “struggling” to the point of decreasing staff size.

Our smaller congregations have struggled financially for years. But now our “big churches” also find themselves thousands or tens of thousands behind in giving for 2014.

And yet, these are good days. Anxious perhaps but very good. These are the days when we are forced to make choices that clarify who we are and why we exist as The Church.

  • Do we need the building we currently use?
  • Have we depended too much on church staff to do the ministry of the congregation?
  • Are we predominantly serving our neighbors or ourselves?
  • Are we making a difference in the lives of those less privileged than we are?

Some of our churches will close in 2015 because it’s time. And some of our churches will continue to thrive because their mission is strong. And many churches fall between the two, struggling but doing their best to serve those in need and bring Good News to broken people.

Blackbaud reports that $26,183,217.42 was donated to over 4000 non-profits on Giving Tuesday last week. People want to give. Are we in the institutional church offering ministry that inspires generous giving?

PS check this out.

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