Let’s say it is December 10th, and you (the Rector) and your Vestry are sitting down to review the giving to date and the giving needed at the end of the year to pay all the bills. Suddenly, you realize that there will be a HUGE deficit at the end of the year. The Vestry is worried. The Rector is growing nervous. And most of the people in the church are oblivious. And let’s say, to use a specific example, that the deficit is projected to be $100,000 and that the church is made up of 200 families.
The solution to this church’s problems is within reach, and many of the ideas in this resource will help this church close the gap. There are some excellent ideas and suggestions in the first part of this document.
(Be sure to look at “The Rector and the Vestry”, David Roseberry’s popular book on, well, The Rector and the Vestry. Great stuff! Available on Amazon. Want to order a box for your Vestry? Check out “Books” at LeaderWorks)
But there are some things that the Rector and Vestry should NEVER do.
1. Never Divide the Need
I have heard this a hundred times. “Hey, I know. We are $100,000 away from our budgeted number, and we have 200 families. This is easy! If every family gave $500 at the end of the year, we’d be fine!” That is ‘dividing the need’ so that it is as painless as possible.
But that is not the way money is distributed in our society, and it is not the way people give. They don’t all give alike. And some will not give at all. For some, $500 is unattainable. And for some $500 is a piece of cake to give. AND, it removes the element of prayer and trust from people. Dividing the need is like saying, “Hey, member, you don’t have to pray about this; we figured it out, and you just need to give $500.”
Never do that!
2. Never Threaten with Guilt
All money given is given in goodwill and with love and charity. Church people do not respond to guilt or threats. If the Rector uses a negative force to make people do a positive thing, they may do it. But it is counter-productive to the goal of building a culture of generosity. You don’t want to lead with guilt or threats like: “You know if we don’t have $100,000 by the end of the year, I am not going to be able to keep our children’s ministry intact.” Or, “Christmas is not going to be any fun around here if people don’t step up and do the right thing.”
Never do that!
3. Never Blame God
Churches that get in financial trouble should never blame God for leading them down the wrong road. Shortages are seldom caused by God sending mixed messages or changing His mind. Never find yourself saying things like, “You know, God told our Vestry to do this thing, and we budgeted money for it. But we are short about $100,000, and we think it is because God wants to a) teach us something or, b) expose our member’s disobedience or c) change direction in our vision.”
Never do that, or any of those!
4. Never Ignore Bad News
We need to realize unforeseen circumstances can cause deficits in a church’s budget. If there is a city-wide lay-off or a nationwide recession or war, the church may experience a financial setback. Most churches will. But foolish churches will pretend that they will be able to skate by without any change of program or addressing their budget issues.
Funding church ministry requires faith in the face of bad news. The vision of your church can go on even if you experience a shortfall. And there are always ways of making up deficits in the coming months. But some churches are afraid of reality, and they whistle past the graveyard of reality.
Never do that!
5. Never Over-Save
It is always wise to save money. However, some churches are afraid to spend their savings to cover the budget deficits when they need it. Not spending money when you have it might be fatal; you might save yourself out of business.
Some churches are trying to squeak by during lean times even while they have a reserve of a savings account just for this purpose. There are times when a congregation needs to look at all of its resources and, being prudent and prayerful, spend their reserves to weather a difficult season. That is why the money is there. Don’t save your money for a rainy day when it is raining outside.
Never Do That!
I am quite sure that I have violated one or more of the “Never’s” and I can imagine another set of five “Never’s” that I have done over the years. And the reason that I say these are “Never’s” is that they never work! They don’t provide a definite solution to the challenges that we all face. But thank God that we honor and serve a loving and generous Father. Thank God that He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) and that he is as generous with His forgiveness as He is with His resources.