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Dan Reiland writes: Money follows vision. That’s true, but oh, if it were only that simple. There is so much more to it! There are many churches where there is vision, and yet the financial resources do not show up let alone keep up. So what separates the vision in a leader’s heart, from a vision that gets traction and takes off, and one that never seems to travel far from the lips of the leader? First, I think the primary leader, (the senior pastor), the key staff and church board members must have a deep and abiding sense of confidence in the vision. It’s not as if they don’t need God, in fact it’s just the opposite. They know God is with them. Further, it’s not as if God is obligated to grant them favor, but there is such an authentic dependence upon God that He blesses that humble confidence. Second, the vision is clear. People get it. The congregation believes it and buys in. They see how they can participate and they want to! These churches aren’t perfect and they are not all big churches, but they have a sense of where they are going and they dig in and go for it. They risk and strive for progress. They teach stewardship as an issue of spiritual maturity not just money. I believe that you need to start with the idea that you have enough. I know that might seem like “pie in the sky” if your actual income is lower than your projected expenses. This always causes stress and pressure. But, I’ll say it again, you need to view what you have as enough, because that is what you have!  You may be required to make major adjustments, but we all do in different seasons. When you believe “I don’t have enough,” you begin to shortchange your vision and what God can do.  I will admit, things can get tough, but you have enough. Let’s start there. How you view the above thought and how you lead in organizational finances reflects your personal theology. (And in part your faith.) The resources of your church are entrusted to you in order to maximize kingdom return.  You are a steward of God’s money. You have a responsibility to maximize the return… Giving church resources outside the church is strong. This is highly encouraging because any church can do it!  Simply put — Give yourselves away. This is not about how much money you have, it’s about your heart and values. God honors even the most modest of giving into your community, and I think He is pleased with generous giving. I’m simply talking about setting aside monies for compassion projects, justice issues, mercy endeavors, etc. The idea is to give to those in need, especially those who may never be able to come to your church, or do anything for you in return. Of course we all want to share the gospel whenever possible, and it’s wonderful if they can come to your church, but your motivation, in this case, is to help those in need, not to grow your church. God has a way of honoring that kind of heart and investment. The Leadership replaces fear with hope. In the bleakest and most difficult of times, there is hope. As a leader it’s important that you genuinely believe that. If you do not, you will never lift your people to a greater place. We know this is true when it comes to sin and salvation. Grace is our great hope. There is no sin that grace cannot conquer! By our faith in Jesus, His blood covers our transgression. Grace can deliver you from the darkest place to light (I John 4:5-7) and freedom in Christ. // Read more here:  Challenging Economic Times

The economy is still in a hard place; and so are some churches.  So what do you do when you have valuable staff, but you’re not able to show your appreciation with a raise in salary? Liz Ryan has worked in corporate HR for over 20 years.  Recently, Matt Branaugh from Managing Your Church sat down with her and asked: What is one immediate thing many churches can do to reward staff, absent of a pay raise or a new health benefit, but might overlook? Here is her response: “We tend to think of churches or nonprofit organizations and assume they have a special burden because they don’t necessarily have the cash or fancy stuff to throw around. But even in the big corporations and organizations that you’d expect to have the cash and fancy stuff to throw around, the biggest issue is recognition and the value of employee contributions. This can come a variety of ways. For instance, it can be as simple as making it a habit to ask the front desk receptionist how to do things better in the church office. Leadership is free. Management is expensive. Having to watch people on (the management) side of the equation, making sure they don’t do the wrong thing, writing the policies—that’s expensive and time consuming. Leading people the way they’d like to be led, giving them latitude, and really recognizing their contributions—that’s pretty cheap. That’s free. People know the state of finances. But senior pastors need to understand their situation is no different than any other leader [who is] responsible for people. They say, ‘I’m a senior pastor and I have such limited chips. I’ve got so little cash, it’s hard to talk about. It’s painful.’ And they assume it’s maybe best to put everything under wraps and not talk at all. That’s the last thing they should be doing. Once a month, they should say ‘Hey Jack, you’re a great youth pastor and I hope I tell you that enough. I would pay you more. You know our finances and know we’re not in a position to do it, but I would if I could because you deserve that. Your contribution is massive.’ That’s the conversation you can have when you don’t have the cash. For many people, when it’s sincere, that’s as meaningful as the cash. If people are motivated by soul energy, give it to them! She also has some other advise for things churches can do for staff when cash is low.  They are good suggestions you should check out. Has your church ever been in this situation?  How did you handle it?

According to Christianity Today,  Senior pastors reported salaries and benefits that, on average, were 2.7 percent higher than those reported for the preceding 2010-2011 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff: Read more here at… How’s that compare with your salary this year?  Up 2.7%?  More?  Less?  Pay freeze because of the economy?  How’s this hitting home for you and your church?

Current Events
I guess if you’re going to copy miracles from someone, it might as well be Jesus.  This is how Cindy Jacobs fed the 3,000 with a few loaves of bread.  (I think if she would have had a few little fishes, she probably could have fed 6,000… an even bigger miracle than in scripture!) I would like to try to replicate the bank miracle.  Or maybe with cookies or something.  Wouldn’t you? HT:  Scotteriology

What is the average pay for a senior pastor these days? Well, of course, it depends… on your experience, the size of your church, and what sex you are. According to the 2012-2013 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff (which surveyed about 4,600 churches and 8,000 church positions), the average senior pastor overall makes… [drum roll please]… $82,938. That’s up from last year’s average salary of $80,745. Another interesting finding is that women church employees (senior pastor or otherwise) make on average 28% LESS than men across all paid positions in the church. QUESTION:  Regardless of your position on women in ministry (at least in Senior roles), is it OK for women working in vocational ministry to make 28% less then their male counterparts? Why or why not? Take a look at your personnel expenses… Do you pay your women staff members less then your male staff members in equal or near equal positions? Let us know your thoughts below… Todd SOURCE

I’m not sure where this statement came from, but many churches have said it.  I think our church still says this regularly… but it’s something that Casey Graham says you should NOT say this weekend or ever… because it’s simply not true: If this is your first time here, we don’t want you to give. Casey says:  Let EVERYONE in attendance know that the offering is a time for people to support the mission and vision of your church. via Do NOT Say This In Church This Weekend. What do you think? Todd

How does your church interact with the community regarding donations and fundraisers? The perception of many is that the church is a drain on the local community more than a blessing to it. We have been cautious (perhaps erring on the other side) to never ask the community to contribute to church activities. However, there are times when the church does something (i.e. disaster relief, Operation Christmas Child, etc.) where people want to contribute and the church can facilitate their donations without any benefit to itself. What has been your conclusion on the best way to minister to your community, while maintaining a testimony of generosity?

A former rector at St. Stephens Church in Colorado Springs is in big trouble… accused of stealing $392,000 from the church treasury. Rev. Donald Armstrong’s reasoning in court this week?  Well… he did use church funds to pay for his two kid’s college tuitions, but he did so in lieu of getting any pay raises for several years. In other words… you didn’t give me a pay raise, so I just paid my kids college bill instead. He said that all the checks were made to “Tuition Management Systems, and that the purpose of those checks should have been obvious. And each check needed to be signed by Armstrong and someone else from the church. Here’s an interesting exchange from the Wasn’t it obvious that the checks were going for tuition? Hartley [Armstrong’s attorney] asked the detective. “Yet not one warden who co-signed on these checks ever questioned what this was for?” he asked. “I suppose the senior warden was depending upon the rector to be honest,” Flynn [the detective] replied. “And my investigation showed that Mr. Armstrong was not.” Mistake #1:  Armstrong signing checks Mistake #2:  The church trusting Armstrong and not having any financial accountability. Sound strikingly familiar to this story yesterday? Come on, people… have some common sense. Read more here.

A University of Pennsylvania professor and a secular research group decided to try to put a dollar value on churches.  They came up with a list of 54 categories and attempted to calculate what they described as the “halo effect” of 12 churches (10 protestant, a Catholic church, and a Jewish synagogue).  Here’s how they did it, according to A University of Pennsylvania professor and a secular research group decided to try to put a dollar value on churches.  They came up with a list of 54 categories and attempted to calculate what they described as the “halo effect” of 12 churches (10 protestant, a Catholic church, and a Jewish synagogue).  Here’s how they did it, according to They added up the money generated by weddings and funerals, festivals, counseling programs, preschools, elder care. They tallied the salaries of staff and the wages of roofers, plumbers, even snow shovelers. They put dollar signs on intangibles, too, such as helping people find work and teaching children to be socially responsible.  They even measured the diameter of trees on church campuses. The end result:  for all 12 churches, Over $50 million in annual economic benefits. Here is some more from the article: The valuation for 300-member Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Episcopal Church in Queen Village, for instance, was a middle-of-the-road $1.65 million. By contrast, the figure for Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic parish in Kensington, with 7,000 congregants, a parochial school, and a community center, was $22.44 million. The numbers, culled from clergy and staff interviews, “just blew us away,” said Robert Jaeger, executive director of the research group Partners for Sacred Places. The study is not yet published. When it is, the robust sums are likely to be challenged, predicted lead author Ram Cnaan, a Penn professor of social policy. Some valuations were drawn from existing academic research, such as $19,600 for pastoral counseling that prevents a suicide and $18,000 for an averted divorce. Cnaan himself arrived at other values – for example, $375 on “teaching pro-social values” to a young child. This is an interesting study.  I think it’s important for churches to bring economic advantages to their community. But what’s not even a part of this study is the spiritual advantage your church brings to your community? [box type=”info”]Have you ever stopped to consider how valuable your church is to your community from an economic standpoint? How would your church do in a study like this? And how would your church do in the more important study of the spiritual value you bring to your community?[/box] It’s something to think about… You can read more here… Todd

You may have seen them advertised, or thought they were only for larger churches.  But do those automated, ATM-like giving kiosks really work?  Tim Stevens reports that giving is up around 3% at Granger Community Church since they’ve added the kiosks… Here’s some other things that Tim shares that Granger has learned in their first months of utilizing the kiosks:
  • Between September 11 and December 31, we took in almost 1,250 donations on the kiosks. The average donation was $80, and the gifts totaled around $25,000 per month. (We have around 5,000 attending each week–so you can scale this up or down for your situation.)
  • Kiosk donations accounted for 4% of our overall donations in the last four months of 2009.
  • We have 3 machines. 2 at our Granger Campus and 1 at our Elkhart Campus.
  • Prior to September, we averaged 42 new givers/month to our General Fund. Between September and December we averaged 67 new givers/month to our General Fund.
  • Average monthly giving increased 3% in the last four months of 2009.
  • During this time, we had 69 people give for the first time on the kiosks. In total, those 69 people subsequently gave $15,225 through the end of the year.
Is YOUR church using kiosks?  What have your results been? Have you been thinking about utilizing giving kiosks?  If you’ve been thinking about it… what’s held you back? I’d love to hear your input… Todd