Use What You Have—and Still Grow Your Ministry

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

The past few issues of Ministry Banking Today have provided several key steps to getting your ministry’s finances in order. This month, we look at a fourth ministry financial priority: Leveraging assets to better accomplish ministry goals. Whether your assets are rented or owned, tangible or intangible, they provide great opportunity to further your ministry’s effectiveness. Here are some creative ways to leverage real estate and cash assets to expand kingdom work—even when financing is not an option.

What can you do with your property? Consider how you currently use your land and facilities—is there opportunity to broaden their uses? (Think: Multiple church services, potential income from renting out rooms midweek, opening a profit-generating business on campus?) Mariners Church in Irvine, California, embraced this idea by opening a bookstore in available space next to their worship center. Profits from the bookstore allow the church to grow their global missions program. 

Another approach: Do you own a large parcel of land? Consider subdividing it into several smaller pieces. One parcel could be used to build a new facility, another could be sold to raise funds, and another could be kept as security for a rainy day. 

Are you making the most of your cash? Of course, earning a high return on your deposits is a great way to leverage cash assets. But how else can you use available cash to further your ministry’s effectiveness? Consider the example of a San Francisco Bay Area church that wanted to renovate a portion of their facility but was unable to obtain financing. While they had a sizable amount of money on deposit as emergency funds, they did not want to deplete their cash for this small project. The solution: They obtained a deposit-secured loan—allowing them to borrow against their own funds to get their project started without tapping into emergency funds. At the same time, they started a capital campaign to begin paying off the deposit-secured loan.

Are you thinking creatively? Another church had their eye on a property that was perfect for expanding ministry through a church plant. Initially, they considered refinancing their existing property for cash to buy and renovate the new property. After consulting with their financial institution, though, they negotiated a lease-to-purchase contract on the new building rather than refinancing and incurring more debt (which they could afford, but realized was not necessary). The church was able to lease-to-purchase the building, make improvements, and then buy the building over time as their church plant grew in size and strength.

Are you a good steward? One of the simplest ways to extend the effectiveness of your physical assets is through preservation. Are your assets kept in good shape so that ministry can happen not only today, but in years to come? Consider a replacement reserve fund to make necessary repairs or replacements to things such as roofs, parking lots, and sound equipment. (For more information on this liquidity practice, check out the precautionary requirements section of Liquidity: How Much Is Enough?)

Especially in these times of financial uncertainty, leveraging assets is one way leaders can help their ministries stay on mission.

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