For church leaders, these times can seem overwhelming. We have inflation-increasing operating costs, a war in Ukraine that's only making things more uncertain, and our communities are hurting. Church leaders need more funds to minister to their church members in a chaotic world. For example, inflation means that church leaders must factor in about 8 percent more in costs for the foreseeable future.
To help you address these issues and more, we invite you to watch our webinar, Ministry and Money: Stewardship, Planning, and Emerging Funding Models. In this part of our series, our CEO, Joe Park, speaks with the financial experts at CapinCrouse. Partners David G. Gunter, and Ken Tan, shared their wisdom about what they see happening in thriving churches. The reality is that your church can thrive in what is a chaotic world. But, it takes a bit more planning, agility, and infrastructure. We also invite you to listen to the follow-up Q&A session.
This period is an opportunity to find out how to reposition your church and lead it through troubled waters. The key to surviving the chaos is preparation. Planning has never been more important in a chaotic world where nothing is certain. Moreover, those organizations that prepare and pivot to, for instance, a hybrid church model, have a better chance of success. Our team would also like to share CapinCrouse’s essential ebook, The Church Financial Field Guide, which you can download for free.
Ask Yourself if Your Church is Built to Last
To ensure your church prospers, you should ask yourself if it’s built to last. For one, ask yourself how your church is different from others. What do you have that they don't? What makes you stand out? The reality is that the pandemic shifted how churches minister to their members. For one, many churches pivoted to online worship services.
Does your church offer this means of service for people who prefer to worship online or can't make in-person services?
It's vital to realize we have entered into the future of church fundraising and ministry. But, since the pandemic, many churches have reverted to in-person services. If this is what your church decided to do, it may be a moment to reflect. Churches that are now thriving in a chaotic world are those that innovate. As discussed in our webinar, online church services and ministry aren't any less effective than in-person ministry.
It's vital to realize and remember that just as church leaders feel pressure, so do families. For instance, inflation and rising costs have very real effects on stress levels. Families are concerned about holding onto jobs long-term and the costs of keeping their homes. Although some want to attend church services, the stress wears them down. So, churches that offer community—including online—are experiencing resilience with new members.
Create a Hybrid In-person and Remote Model
One of the most effective ways to create a thriving church in a chaotic world is to create a hybrid in-person and remote church model. This hybrid model enables you to combine the benefits of in-person communication with the flexibility and scalability of remote communication.
This hybrid model lets you take advantage of the best of both worlds. If you currently returned to only in-person church services, consider adding a remote component to help you reach a broader audience. That said, as discussed in the webinar, the hybrid model does have its costs. However, the additional gifts you could earn from more members should offset the expenses for the long term.
Ensure You Invest in Technology and Cybersecurity
The fact is that a hybrid church model opens opportunities for churches. For example, it allows an expansion of the people who could attend your services and ministries. You can now expand to include people who want to participate in your ministry from anywhere in the country or worldwide. In other words, your church no longer has to build a community with members in your geographic area.
Moreover, a community gets built with ministries that support the lessons people learn at church. A hybrid church model allows you to remotely have a women's group, Bible studies, or prayer group with more people. Ultimately, if your church follows a path of stewardship and generosity, members will share their gifts with your church. And that’s how a church expands and becomes a thriving church community.
Still, investing in the right technology and cybersecurity measures is essential to create a hybrid church model. You need to be aware of potential risks, including data breaches, cyberattacks, regulatory challenges, and the need for greater cybersecurity. Some questions to ask include: What can you do to protect the integrity of your data? How can you keep your data safe from malicious attacks and viruses?
Make Your Church Leadership Groups Smaller and Agile
Another essential activity to consider in a chaotic world is to make your church leadership group smaller and more agile. Smaller leadership groups enable you to be nimbler and move quickly. At a time of enormous change, volatility, and uncertainty, this is vital for any organization, including churches.
The reality is that churches with smaller groups do better. For example, they can respond to church needs and meet new challenges as they arise more quickly. The reason for it is that a smaller group is less bureaucratic. So, a small group helps you make quicker decisions. Also, it becomes easier to see the big picture and understand how each area of your church impacts the others.
Have Conversations with Ministry Teams
As we know, there’s rising stress in our country. People are concerned about jobs, the political climate, inflation, and great uncertainty. As was mentioned in the webinar, the 20th Century, after World War II, generally speaking, was a time of immense stability. But if you look at the arc of history, people have had to deal with wars, famines, pandemics, and more. Of course, we're dealing with that and more, with the pressures of evolving technology, for example.
So, it wouldn't be surprising if your ministry leaders worry about closing their programs. Therefore, honest conversations with your program teams about their futures are another consideration in a chaotic world. It's vital to understand how people feel within your church. For example, if you have younger members, you want to hear about their career aspirations and thoughts on their ministry work.
However, it's crucial to realize that not all ministries may serve your community. Conversely, some of your ministries are essential but may never get fully funded. So, having these conversations help you identify potential challenges and opportunities for growth. Further, these candid conversations are the first step in finding creative solutions. But you need to surface issues to see what you need to change and how.
Ensure Flexibility in Your Budget for Unexpected Expenses
Finally, one of the most important ways to support your church in a chaotic world is to ensure flexibility in your budget for unexpected expenses. Small, unexpected expenses can quickly drain your budget and put you in a precarious situation. As we all know, none of us knows what will happen next. Therefore, church leaders should prepare to respond quickly to any crisis or opportunity.
Having enough money in the budget is essential to respond to unforeseen situations. But it's just as important to have a way to pay for those expenses after they happen. There are a few ways to ensure flexibility in your budget for unexpected costs. One way is to capitalize on an emergency fund in your budget. Another way is to make sure you’re generating extra income each month, and a hybrid model helps because it expands your church membership base.
In conclusion, it's important to remember that a bit of chaos is a healthy thing. It's the natural order of things. None of us can shut out uncertainty completely. Moreover, it builds opportunities for resiliency, creativity, and innovation in times of enormous change. These pillars allow your church to progress. By embracing the uncertainty and looking to plan around critical aspects of your church, as discussed in this article, webinar, and Q&A, you can then make the necessary changes to thrive.
For more information on creating a thriving church, subscribe to The Generosity Advantage. And for deeper insights and learning about church finance, fundraising, and leadership, visit Horizons Stewardship Giving365.