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Money makes the ministry go round..

by on February 21, 2014

We are about to launch our ‘Money month’, where we set our year’s budget and try to figure out how to raise the cash.

I thought it might be a good time to blog a bit on money matters.

It’s worth spelling out that church ministry costs money. Because it’s led by people, and because people need to live and feed families, it is actually seriously expensive to exist as a church. Well, that’s ok, we think it’s worth it, don’t we. We don’t want to apologise about this, we want to embrace it.

So what if there’s not enough money to support a leader? Now for the F-word.

Fundraising (with a capital F) has not traditionally been a part of local church life. Moneys have usually been raised through weekly congregational giving and through income streams such as rent on church-owned properties. Of course there are often appeals to the members to help meet the budget – let’s call those fundraising with a small f.

Rather, Fundraising has traditionally been the province of the parachurch organisations and charities. It’s what missionaries do. The Salvos. CMS. TEAR. Scripture Union, Etc.

One result of this has been that mission to unreached areas has largely fallen to parachurch groups. Churches can’t exist and minister in unreached areas because there’s no congregation to pay for them. It’s a fairly inflexible model that severely limits what churches can do in new areas. Generally the best they can do is to find a short-term grant, which helps them kick off. But when this grant runs out, generally the church folds. So grants don’t really help. In fact, they’re a bit of a red herring. They distract from the real issue: how to fund a new local church in an unreached area?

So church plants have not been very successful – at least not in my scene. Few have survived. The reality is we’re just not doing much with church planting, and there are large areas of our own city where we have no mission-presence. We being the evangelical churches, that is.

The point I’m trying to make is that money has been a big factor in this problem.

I was interested to hear that the student ministry AFES used to have quite a conservative approach to funding its workers. Only positions that had guaranteed funding from pledges were allowed to exist. Later, they ‘de-regulated’ this and invited people to take up self-fund-raised positions. As a result, many many more AFES workers came on board. They raised their own funds like missionaries do. By freeing up the money-structure, AFES multiplied its leadership.

At least, that’s how I heard the story. You AFES people, correct me if I got it wrong.

But couldn’t our churches learn something from this story? Imagine if we shifted our culture like AFES did? And made Fundraising (capital F) a normal part of our church life. Imagine if larger churches were expecting to contribute to the needs of smaller churches. Imagine if little church plants could spring up and do local mission all over Sydney’s unreached regions, funded by well-heeled Christian patrons in other areas.

It would be like the doors opening on a new era of life and growth for gospel ministry in Sydney. Or wherever you are. Ministry done by the church of Jesus Christ.

Now wouldn’t that be something?

It’s worth remembering that the first ever churchplanter, Paul of Tarsus, was also a dedicated and persistent Fundraiser among the established churches. That’s how his little weak, famine-struck new churchplants managed to survive.

Now that we are not rich and dominant in our society any more, mightn’t it be time for us to get back to this embarrassing and humbling approach?

From → General

  1. Have you thought of doing a food ministry? FOODBANK Nsw will provide food at a low cost and you sell $20 or $30 food parcels. Many churches do this now and it would provide more than enough to sustain a minister etc. it also brings in people who haven’t heard the Gospel but desperately need to. My Church Narrabri Anglican gave me such a horrific funding document to follow, so narrow that basically I can’t get funding from outside the church or even volunteers. Constantly I have to find a loop hole to bring in money, when, due to their interpretation of the scriptures I have knocked back over $60,000 in 7 mths so I absolutely agree with you about changing the rigid unfruitful burdensome funding rules that are archaic. We have 5 country churches to run and maintain and minister to and it is draining, yet manage to have and pay for 3 full time ministers but its a stress on the congregation. Everyone on our committee agrees to open up the funding to the community but the church council, vicar and Bishop say no. I can’t see why they want to subject the congregation with the entire financial responsibility when The Lord who owns everything has the ability to provide any way he sees fit for his glory and purpose. It just takes the faith of Paul as you stated to get out and raise money while spreading the gospel into the part of the world The Lord has placed you to be that light and that salt Christ so earnestly told us to be.

    If you ever want to consider a Food Ministry I am more than willing to pass on all that I know and have used to help you. It may be your answer and it certainly moves the Church to be selfless, challenged about their work for The Lord etc.

    In Christ
    carla moris

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience and ideas with us Carla. Sounds like these are not just Sydney problems!
    Let us know more about food ministry. Sounds like it has potential.

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