Church budget dwindling

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by SmalltownPastor, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. SmalltownPastor

    SmalltownPastor
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    Our church has one checking account that we use for everything. When I became the pastor 4 years ago, there was $19,000 in this account (which had grown that large because they were without a pastor for a couple years). It's now down to $5,000, which is approximately one month's of the church's expenses. So I'm getting pretty anxious.

    I'm the second pastor they've tried to pay a "full-time" salary, and (at the time when I was called) they had a deficit of about $400/month.

    Attendance and total offerings have increased. Compared to the first two years, we now have an average of $550/mo more in offerings. But we've also increased our missions giving, and salaries, and have added things like internet/wifi and lawn care service. So now the deficit (even after factoring in the increased giving) is on average about $600/mo.

    I've done some maths and determined that we could save about $400/mo by having volunteers cut the grass (which we did last summer, but everyone grew tired of it), eliminating internet, and cutting back our missions giving. But this still leaves a deficit.

    My family can't afford to take a reduction in salary unless I find a part-time job as well. I'm willing to do this, but my wife has mentioned to me that she would feel severely hurt by the church if they were to decrease our pay, since we see how church members live and it would show us that they don't truly value our family. I see her point.

    Some in the church have mentioned fundraisers. I'm generally against this kind of thing, but even if I weren't, this seems more like a very temporary solution unless we wanted to have a huge fundraiser every month indefinitely.

    I've thought about adding an online giving option, but I don't like that companies take at least 3% of what's given.

    Do you have any advice?
     
    #1 SmalltownPastor, Aug 29, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2013
  2. Tom Bryant

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    the first bit of advice is not hopeful, but may be helpful: get your resume updated and out.

    Even if you went to online giving, the people still wouldn't be giving if they are not giving already.

    I am assuming that the people are making the money but are not giving it to church.

    How many paid staff?

    Have you preached on giving?

    Do the people understand the situation?

    Are some people holding back their giving to force you out? (sorry for the unpleasant, but necessary question.)

    Is there a history in the church of dishonesty in the finances? (not by you, but past financial people)
     
  3. Revmitchell

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    I would call a meeting with the finance committee and have an honest discussion with them. I would direct them to make some recommendations to take before the church.


    I am with Tom I would get my resume out there. The process is so long and it does not mean you absolutely have to go anywhere. Keep all this in prayer.
     
  4. SmalltownPastor

    SmalltownPastor
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    :laugh: I had to laugh at your first bit of advice, Tom :) Not because it isn't generally good advice, but because of my personality and the church's personality, it just doesn't apply to us. It's a great fit. It humbles me to know that the church loves me despite me.

    I mentioned online giving because I've heard that it can be effective in bringing in offerings from shut-ins and other people who want to support the ministry who cannot attend often or at all (say, people from previous churches I've attended while in seminary). But I also have reservations in even trying it.

    I don't think anybody is withholding anything. Last year, offerings were just over $50K. We average about 50 in worship. So we might be slightly below average in giving, but we also live in a lower income area, and our church has a slightly higher percentage of young children than most.

    The janitor and I are the only paid staff. He is EXTREMELY part-time, though, at $200/mo.

    I preached a series on managing our finances in a way that honors God about a month ago, and one sermon was all about being rich toward God. I try to do a series on finances about every other year.

    I think most people are aware of the situation. The treasurer points it out every business meeting, which is generally well-attended. Another member expressed concern over the deficit last month as well. The only people who may not be aware of it would be those who don't attend business meetings. But roughly 60% of the church do.

    The only dishonesty in terms of finances in the history of the church was once about ten years ago when the treasurer at the time was paying some of her personal bills out of the church's account. Once it was discovered, the church did a very good job of addressing the situation and restoring her. She's still a member of the church, but is not the treasurer.

    We don't have a finance committee, but I think I will simply ask for ideas at our next business meeting. I'm planning on presenting the $400 in savings that I mentioned, and ask for other suggestions as well.
     
  5. Crabtownboy

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    Using volunteers from the church is a good idea. The small church I attend uses volunteers for just about everything, especially as for as church maintenance and upkeep is concerned.

    As much as you and your members probably hate to cut you giving to missions, you may have to so you can survive.

    When we have an important issue, either good or bad, we call a town meeting of the congregation. The issue is laid out very clearly and discussed. We do not come up with an idea to be voted on so much as discussing until we reach a consensus. In fact, we are working on moving to where everything is done by consensus and not by majority vote. We find that a special town meeting is attended by a greater majority then a called special business meeting and certainly more than a regular business meeting. Calling a Town Meeting indicates that it is of extraordinary importance.

    Do you have editing or writing ability. Both are areas that are open for freelancers to use in making additional income for yourself and the family.

    I will scratch my head and if I think of other ideas I will pass them along.

    I applaud your church in the way it handled the former treasurer.
     
    #5 Crabtownboy, Aug 29, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2013
  6. Tom Bryant

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    Thanks for being so transparent with your answers. I didn't say it earlier but i will be praying for you and the church.

    Maybe another way to go about the business meeting idea is to ask for the authority to appoint a 3-5 person group who would study how to cut down on spending while increasing giving. These people would need to be spiritual people, not just big givers. Ask the church for 1 month to spend studying what to do. Meet alot with all the financial info. Also during this month between business meetings, get the Sunday AM people involved by praying about it. A few years ago we had a real need (wasn't financial) but we asked people to pray about the decision and to help remind them, we gave them a marble to carry in their pockets for guys and whatever for women. Everytime they touched the marble it was to remind them to pray. (Make sure they understand the marble isn't a prayer rock, but just a means of remembering to pray.)

    This is a spiritual issue and will be dealt with by spiritual means.
     
  7. sag38

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    We use volunteers to keep the grass cut. However, and even though we were barely getting by, we purchased top notch commercial equipment. It took us a year to pay it off but the equipment can withstand abuse from volunteers and does not break down easily. Having good equipment readily available on the church grounds really has made a difference. In just two years we were saving several thousand dollars a year in lawn care expense.
     
  8. sag38

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    Another thing we did is to start a "777" plan. We asked our members to give one dollar a day (7 dollars a week) over and above their regular tithes and offerings until they had given $777.00. This giving would go straight toward paying off debt that the church had incurred many years before I came as the pastor. In 18 months our church has given $34,000.00 above and beyond their regular giving. Considering that we averaged 79 in SS last year that's pretty good. Amazing what God can do with the number "7."
     
  9. padredurand

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    This ain't very sophisticated but here she goes:

    We went through this a few years ago. The treasurer was having kittens over the budget and had fussed over how we were going to pay the Pastor (thank you) and the rest of our expenses. We're a church plant, I'm bi-vo and we are a frugal bunch. That said the solution was simple.

    1. We are going to trust God. From the widow's mite to our greatest asset it's all His.

    2. We made it a matter of prayer among the church leadership.

    3. We let the congregation know what was going on. This was no TV preacher pleading for a faith seed. I didn't have any revelation that I was going to die if they didn't meet the budget.

    I read from the Good Book

    Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
    2 Corinthians 9:7 NASB


    I told them we were going to trust God to meet the need and the leadership would be praying. I told them not to give out of guilt, shame or intimidation but because they loved the Lord. I trust grown up adults to understand simple facts without beating them over the head and people of faith to honor the promises they make.

    The following week the offering was a few dollars over meeting the immediate need. Since our talk the offerings have doubled over the previous average without a corresponding doubling the size of the congregation.

    We don't take a formal offering with the ushers passing the basket while the piano player plays. We have a hand made basket I got from the Amish for our regular offering and a Tim Hortons coffee can for our mission offering. Folks are free to make their offering anytime during the service but most folk take care of it before the service starts.
     
  10. Steadfast Fred

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    My advice would be to get a job. Paul worked with his hands to provide for himself and told Elders they should follow his example.
     
  11. Revmitchell

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    And I would ignore those who are both against tithing and paying the preacher. Those folks are why churches die.
     
  12. webdog

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    Tithing in the church is unbiblical. Churches die do to spending more than they take in among a host of other reasons.
     
  13. Steadfast Fred

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    Why believe those who teach a monetary tithe? The Bible says we ought to obey God rather than man. Today's monetary tithe doctrine is found nowhere in God's Word.
     
    #13 Steadfast Fred, Aug 29, 2013
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  14. Herald

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    I like this.
     
  15. abcgrad94

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    I would strongly advise you NOT to take a pay cut and not become bi-vo to help the church out. You will not get it back, even if giving increases, and it will cause very hard feelings with your wife. You will work yourself to death and the church will take it for granted, and the impact on your family can cause a world of hurt. I say this from similar experience as a bi-vo pastor's wife.

    Oh, and being a pastor IS a full-time job. Being bi-vo just means you work harder and get a part-time salary while people gripe and complain that you aren't doing MORE for them. It's a short, quick road to burnout.
     
  16. webdog

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    Much of what you say depends on the church size and other factors. My parents church has had around 80 members and have done fine with a bi vocational pastor. When they started to die is when they had a full time one. Fact is you cannot pay out more than you bring in regardless. If giving doesn't fit the salary, one of two things needs to happen, more giving, or less in salaries. It's reality, and if one needs to pick up a part time to recoup the salary, that's when leaders need to be formed and groomed to pick up the slack until a full time salary is in order.
     
  17. Crabtownboy

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    Christ does not ask that those believing in him give only 10%. Christ asks that we commit all of our life to him, and money is part of our life. So giving 10% is getting off rather inexpensively.

    Remember what he told the rich young ruler?
     
  18. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Those are the only churches I attend....but the pastor is someone who actually wants to run it that way (bi-vo) at one church Yacov is the owner of a construction company & thats his only source of employment. If people want to go on mission trips than its a collection amongst the group. Yacov refused seminary school but he is a very godly man & self studied.

    Then my dear friend, Jeff is a Old Regular Baptist Pastor with a Masters degree in teaching...and thats what he does as a profession. The budget there is approx 10K a year for utilities, upkeep etc. Jeff has more knowledge of scripture than almost anyone I know & he keeps it pithy (LOL).

    I just dont think I need a professional Seminary Trained guy telling me what to believe when I have my bible & the Holy Spirit guiding me. I dont even need a piano. :godisgood:
     
  19. webdog

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    He also said to give what each has decided in their own heart to give, not a percentage. We are not to pick and choose what OT laws to follow.
     
  20. Revmitchell

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    I have unintentionally worked to bring this thread of track. Please do not follow it by debating the tithe. We need to keep our posts to responding to the op and the op alone.
     

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