Joe Park, CEO at Horizons Stewardship, recently sat down with Pastor, Author, and Leader Dr. Mark DeYmaz for a three-part interview series to talk about his latest book, “The Coming Revolution in Church Economics: Why Tithes and Offerings Are No Longer Enough, and What You Can Do About It.”
The first interview explored the case Mark makes as to why tithes and offerings won’t be enough to fully fund ministry in the future. Mark effectively makes the case for why changing cultural and economic realities will continue to put pressure on a church’s ability to fund all the ministry that God desires solely through tithes and offerings.
The second interview explored the theological underpinnings that provide his roadmap for church leaders to examine how effectively they steward the assets God has entrusted them with. Mark believes strong, sustainable local churches are essential and that teaching biblical tithing and offerings is essential. That said, he challenges leaders to make room in their theological application to consider new approaches and methodologies to being faithful stewards of all the assets God has entrusted to each church.
In this third interview, Mark provides a practical framework that informs how to leverage your assets (facilities, people, and resources) to create sustainable funding that will allow churches to expand their reach, maximize their mission delivery capacity, and activate the ingenuity and creativity of entrepreneurship to find a better way forward.
A Practical Approach to Sustainable Funding for Churches
Three Teams, Three Metrics, and Three Functions
Every football franchise has three teams: offense, defense, and special teams. Each team is a different collection of athletes. Each team has a unique role to play in every game, is measured with different metrics, and is led by a coach with that function as their specialty. All three teams must be functioning at high levels for the franchise to win. Mark believes that a similar focused approach should be considered by churches to maximize their missional effectiveness.
No single pastor has the time or the giftedness to accomplish everything that needs to be done in a thriving and diverse ministry context. Mark recommends all local churches consider organizing people and resources into three teams: spiritual formation, social justice, and sustainable enterprise. We don’t typically think in those categories when we think about local church ministry, but each has a vital and distinct role to play.
Spiritual formation will always be at the center of what a local church does. The ability to teach, disciple, and serve others on a collective spiritual journey is critical—and will remain that way. If our churches are to reflect and effectively transform our communities, we will need to be much more multi-ethnic and economically diverse.
To maximize the impact of our social justice ministries, Mark recommends creating a nonprofit owned by the church. If a church doesn’t form a separate nonprofit, it will forever be limited by its budget allocation and existing volunteer capacity. When you form an independent nonprofit, you open yourself up to receiving funds from other churches, foundations, and businesses who want to support causes in your community making a difference.
Last, churches should consider how for-profit ventures can generate net income that could forever offset your recurring operating expenses. Each church has at least three assets it can leverage: people, facilities, and financial resources. In the video interview and in his book, Mark unpacks numerous examples of how Mosaic Church is successfully renting space, monetizing existing services, and starting new businesses, all in a synchronized effort to expand their ministries and bless the community.
Activating the Entrepreneurs in Your Church
The good news is that the pastor shouldn’t and doesn’t have to figure this out on their own. Far too many entrepreneurs are being asked to be a doer (employee) or volunteer team leader (manager) which fails to leverage their God given creativity and ingenuity around solving problems.
For example, you need someone to clean your church building and maintain it. You could budget money to hire a janitor. Or you could take a few individuals looking for employment or better employment and enable them through entrepreneurial leadership and resources to start a new, for-profit janitorial service whose profits offset the cost of cleaning the church and add financial resources to your ministries.
Most businesses exist purely to maximize profit. When a church chooses to engage in for-profit enterprises, you can choose to offer more competitive prices for the purpose of blessing people and other organizations in your community, while at the same time increasing targeted employment opportunities to break the cycle of poverty in the areas God has called your church to impact.
Churches and other nonprofit organizations can engage in for-profit enterprises, but there are limits and certain things you can and can’t do. A competent CPA or attorney can make sure you play by all the legal and tax rules.
Monetizing Your Facilities
When Mosaic Church purchased its current facility, it did so with a plan to bless the community by increasing access to needed community services and providing additional income for the church. A bi-product of this strategy has been a significant decrease in crime in the area they serve.
One of their first wins was attracting a fitness company to rent space from the church. It was offered to them at an attractive price so they could offer lower cost memberships, making it possible for low-income families to join. This was more successful than they ever imagined.
The fitness company also made nearly $2M in improvements to the facility. As a result, the appraised value of the property more than doubled, half the church’s mortgage payment is made by the fitness center and most importantly, the families in Mosaic’s community are being served better today and more are aware of the church than ever.
Get the Conversation Started in Your Church
This is a seminal moment in the life of the American church. We are going to have to be more creative and forward-thinking than ever. Developing a broader understanding of how to fund ministry and make disciples will require new thinking, new ideas, and new approaches.
Take the opportunity to involve new people in the conversation with you. Identify a few entrepreneurs to share this video series with as a small group. Begin praying about how God might want them to be part of framing and shaping new opportunities for growth and funding.
This is not about eliminating tithes and offerings from the church funding model. Rather, this is about recognizing ways your church can become deeply integrated into the economic vitality of your people and your community while also ensuring you are fully funded.
Mark’s vision for the future of the church is a bright one. With the right plan, you can have a multi-ethnic, economically diverse church that is socially just and financially stable. It may just require new thinking. The work of the church has never been more important than it is right now.
If you’d like to speak with a trained coach and experienced consultant, we are ready to help you. Consider scheduling a discovery session today to better understand the sustainable funding and ministry opportunities that are ahead for your church. For free resources about church funding, stewardship, and generosity, visit Giving365.