Speak about the financial reality at your church. People respond to facts. Say if income is down; say if money is needed to purchase food for your feeding ministry.
Ministry Continues During Pandemic
During this pandemic, our churches can no longer be together physically, but we are meeting and connecting spiritually through various means. At my church, we stay connected with many of our neighbors through our food distribution program. Perhaps your church has an outreach program like this. Ours continues to operate, now weekly rather than bi-weekly, because it fits in the category of “essential program” here in Virginia.
Like most ministries of our churches there is a financial side. For my church’s food program, donations of food are down so more food must be purchased from local food banks or stores. This is an added expense for the church.
The financial side of keeping our churches healthy and open, open in a new sense, is even more stressful right now. On the expense side of the ledger sheet, many expenses such as utilities, staff, and some ministries, continue. On the income side of the ledger sheet, many donations and pledges have stopped. One source of lost income right now is the Sunday offering. This is very often a significant source of a church’s income. This expense/income gap has probably been noticed.
Five Ideas For Maintaining Financial Health
What can churches do to maintain their financial health at this time? Below are a few ideas. I’m sure you have more. Comment on this post and let’s discuss!
- Pray individually and as a congregation. Pray for your church, your staff, your ministries, each other, your neighborhood.
- Speak about it. Speak about these hard times for everyone, and that it is harder on some of us than others. Speak about the financial reality at your church. People respond to facts. Say if income is down; say if money is needed to purchase food for your feeding ministry.
- Ask. Ask gently, “as much as your able we hope you will continue to pay your pledge; as much as you are able, we hope you can send a little extra to support your neighbors.” Do you have any donors who give just at year end? If so, ask if then can give some or all of it now.
Asking includes exploring other income options such as the federal Cares Relief Act, similar state government programs, and grants. Dioceses and synods may also be offering grants or other financial support.
- Communicate how to give. Use every platform (email, written, telephone, virtual meeting) available. Because we aren’t in the church building on Sundays when the offering plate is passed around, many people may not realize that they should seek out other ways to give. The first option should be electronic and online giving options. (If you want more information on this send me an email.)
- Thank those who give. Thank them publicly – it doesn’t have to be by name, but simply, “a big thank you today to everyone who has sent a donation this week.” Find a volunteer who can write some thank you notes. Send them an email. While not my favorite method in regular times it is certainly acceptable in these times! Call them to check on them and take the opportunity to thank them.
Do all of the above weekly. Except prayer–do that daily!
Carolyn Moomaw Chilton is a leadership development coach with clergy, clergy spouses and lay employees, as well as a spiritual director. She also works as a consultant with churches and vestries in the areas of formation, development and evangelism. She can be reached at email@example.com.