Joe Park, CEO at Horizons Stewardship and Stan Reiff, Partner and Partner and Consulting Professional Practice Leader at CapinCrouse, developed five recommendations for churches who are experiencing a surplus in their 2020 ministry funding plan. 

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According to ECFA’s recent report, “Optimism Outweighs Uncertainty” and the Lake Institute’s recent research findings, there remains a generally positive outlook on the future of church giving and philanthropy at large. Many churches are reporting they are in a great financial position right now. Because of their good financial practices and the unexpected benefit of a PPP forgivable loan, they are in a stronger than expected cash flow position.

This creates an interesting scenario: How can churches steward their surplus to do the most good and help the most people? This is an important and urgent question for churches in this unanticipated position. The risk of continuing to stockpile resources in an ever-growing “rainy day” fund could impact future generosity efforts.

Further, the general population is more aware than ever of the pressing needs of so many. While it’s essential that a church use their surplus first to protect the integrity of their ministry operations, an abundance of ministry resource could signal a need to revisit your capacity to do even more ministry right now.

If your current reality is:

  • Your income has held steady or is increasing
  • Your operating expenses have been reduced during the pandemic
  • Your net cash flow is above projections
  • Your operating reserves exceeds 90 days

Then you might be ready to re-imagine how you can channel your resources to help others—and maybe even help other struggling churches in your area.

Ministry Tools for the Journey Ahead

CapinCrouse has created some exceptional budgeting templates you can use. You can find those in Giving365. They are:

  • Church Cash Flow Requirements Worksheet
  • Church Cash Requirements Worksheet
  • Church Budget Analysis Worksheet

Horizons and CapinCrouse both recommend in this season of uncertainty that churches maintain a minimum of 90 days of operating reserves. For most churches a reserve greater than 180 days will have a negative impact on giving.

You may also need to begin a re-budgeting process to ensure you facilitate changes in operational needs since the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing began. You can read more about that in the Church Ministry Funding Guide. The last chapter of this practical resource is dedicated to helping you understand how to approach and move through this effort within a local church setting.

Five Scenarios When You Have a Surplus

What are your options when it comes to considering what to do when you have a surplus of ministry resources? Here are five scenarios to consider as you and your ministry teams consider their options:

  1. Increase your operating reserves to an appropriate level. If you don’t have 90 days of cash reserves, start there. If you have less than 30 days of cash reserves, reach out to a Horizons Ministry Strategist to determine how you can quickly achieve that level of cash on hand.
  2. Invest in creating an effective digital strategy for your church. This is likely something you didn’t budget for when you planned for FY20. But this has become a mission-critical function for every local church. You’ll want to continue to invest in this strategically moving forward.
  3. Complete a midyear re-budgeting. The crisis has created new ministry opportunities that need additional investment as well as creating a great window of opportunity to stop doing activities that are no longer producing the return on investment they once did. 
  4. Partner with organizations to extend their ministry impact. Using a partnership strategy can allow you to respond more nimbly to our rapidly changing world, keep overhead costs low and improve how quickly you can start making a difference in your mission field.
  5. Partner with a church who could increase their ministry impact through your investment. There is nothing more amazing than to partner with another church who is struggling to help them survive and maybe even thrive during the pandemic. If you can, you should.

We’re All in This Together

When God blesses local churches with an abundance of resources, it’s essential those resources be utilized to grow and expand the Kingdom—however and whenever possible. How do we work together to demonstrate the love of Christ to serve others? Your answer to that question will open up new possibilities and new opportunities for impact you may never have considered otherwise.

Let’s celebrate the opportunity we have, in this moment, to be the hands and feet of Christ to people and communities who are struggling and thriving. This is a moment when the church can rise beyond its potential and see lives changed forever. This is the Gospel: Redemption exists everywhere and is available to everyone—even in the midst of a pandemic.

Next Steps:

To watch expert interviews, informational videos and webinars, please visit Giving365, a free, on-demand library of resources designed to help you make disciples and fund ministry. It won’t cost you anything, and you can download as much content as you’d like. In fact, you may even find it helpful for your finance and generosity team members to get their own account. You’ll find resources on a variety of topics. 

The Horizons team is available to meet with you for a free one-hour video or phone conference to review your current situation and help you assess if a debt retirement effort might be appropriate for your church. There will be no pressure or obligation, just leaders helping leaders. We’ve been working with church leaders in this way for nearly three decades. Working with a trusted guide can help you uncover what you may not have considered before. Contact us today

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