How Are Ministries Adapting to the Changing Economy?

(Originally published as an article within ECCU’s former e-publication, Ministry Banking Today.)

If you’ve been praying for God to work in your ministry, now may be the time to don your spiritual hard hat. As ministries adjust to economic changes and uncertain income, many are experiencing unexpected blessings—and discovering that a struggling economy is just another opportunity for God to build his kingdom.

As ministries seek the Lord’s direction with their finances, what steps are they taking to adapt to the economic changes? Here are a few lessons from ministries that are rethinking expansion—without compromising their budgets:

Honestly assess your finances. When Grace Church of Orange, California, saw a dip in giving, they decided not to borrow any more money for their building project. “We are allowing God to work through people’s hearts and pocket books,” said Chris Krebs, a Grace Church administrator and member of the building team. “But, until we are certain that we can make our loan payments, we will not take on any more debt.” Grace Church is also practicing contentedness with what God has given them. “For now, we have just what we need,” Krebs said.

Lease rather than buy. ROCKHARBOR church in Costa Mesa, California, set a great example with their recent expansion. Rather than take on debt, they leased two buildings and renovated them with the cash raised from a capital campaign and surplus from regular giving.

Raise your cash. Launch a capital campaign to bring in the money for an expansion project. Invest that cash in a high-interest money market account and let the bank pay you for a change. Dividends earned will help you reach your goal that much sooner. First Baptist Church of Mariposa, California, was debating whether to continue with their building project when they received word that their loan would not fund. “It was a blessing in disguise,” said Senior Pastor John Trujillo. “We were unsure if we should take on the additional debt, and the Lord made our answer very clear.” With their project 90 percent complete, First Baptist plans to raise the cash to finish the job.

If you decide to finance, talk to multiple lenders. Explore your options and do your homework. Reassess your needs and be conservative in revenue forecasts for the future (some economic struggles haven’t affected giving patterns yet). Seek out a lender with a history and commitment to serving non-profits so they can help you make the best choice for your ministry.

Carpe Diem. What other ways can your ministry expand during this economic season? Reach your community with budgeting and foreclosure workshops. Provide resources to help your congregation make good stewardship decisions.

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