The Upside of Unpredictable Revenue

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

Three ministries—each impacted differently by the economy. We asked them how changes in revenue have affected their financial management, and the impact those decisions have had on their ministry. Whether income increased, decreased, or remained stable, a theme emerged: Nothing is taken for granted and every expense is now evaluated more carefully than ever before.

Increased Blessings, Added Responsibility

The King's Academy (TKA) is a college preparatory school in Sunnyvale, California, that prepares middle and high school students in both academics and service to Christ. The school’s website states, “We live fully expecting that miraculous things will occur in the lives of kids…” It is likely this same faith has kept TKA thriving even with the economy working against them.

As enrollments continue to rise, TKA is acutely aware of the abundant blessing. For as long as they are able, they will continue to offer raises to staff and mission trips for students while striving to improve courses and maintain funding for academics. Even with that goal in mind, staff is very mindful of expenses. “It is hard to get a teacher to ask for money for classroom improvements, but we encourage this and try to say ‘yes,’” says Carolyn Corstorphine, the business office director.

Even in a “business as usual” mode, TKA still has concerns about possible declines in enrollment and is moving forward cautiously. “Yet some decisions cannot be made based on finances,” Corstorphine says. In some instances, this meant turning away students with disciplinary issues or who were not a good fit academically. Above all, the school pursues only what is best for the students…and continues to anticipate the miracles.

Decreased Income, Enlarged Opportunity

For Destiny Metropolitan Worship Church (DMWC) in Atlanta, Georgia, the journey has never been about ease. When founding Pastor Dr. Bryan E. Crute moved to Georgia to start the church plant, all of his family’s personal possessions were burned in a moving truck fire.

In 15 years, the church has grown from the Crute’s basement to a 127,000-square-foot building on 12.7 acres. While the ministry has grown, DMWC has experienced financial setbacks in recent years. Most notably, they made the sobering decision to lay off eight full-time staff.

Now, the staff at DMWC has a new perspective on expenditures. “Our motto is, ‘Let creativity override currency,’” says Dr. Latona Disher, treasurer and business services manager. “We even have fun with it. We challenge each other and compete to find lower rates on supplies and services. We focus on what is essential.”

Dr. Disher says varied expenses were easy to adjust, but fixed expenses were harder to decrease. The solution: “Rather than shooing away those calls from vendors soliciting business, we would get a quote and use it to negotiate a lower rate with current providers,” she says. The church was able to cut costs on services such as payroll, utilities, insurance, and even pest control.

In spite of a decline in revenue, DMWC has never been more aligned in their mission. At every level, every expense is reviewed to ensure optimal return on money and time. And it’s paying off. As the church builds its financial reserves, lives continue to change for the glory of God.

Sustained Income, Increased Faith

New Hope Ministries in Lakewood, Colorado, continues to live up to its name. When the recession began, this inner city ministry saw revenue drop about ten percent. At the first signs of decline, Pastor Ray Chavez recognized that the battle was not of flesh and blood. “The ministry was in a spiritual struggle,” says Chavez. “As funds went down, the struggle became stronger. I could feel and see that people were holding back financially out of fear.” Chavez began teaching on giving and stewardship. “If God is going to see us through, we have to be givers,” he told his congregation. He presented a challenge to give toward the “Dollar a Day” program, asking 300 to 400 people to give a dollar every day, in addition to their regular tithe.

Pastor Chavez knows that honesty with his congregation has made all the difference. “We asked them to be faithful so we can reach the harvest, and finances are going up,” he says.

“We are careful with every expense but, even more than that, we seek the Lord for his finances,” he explains. “We’ve got to ask for his help, and God is faithful. Prayer is a big part of seeing God supply the need.”

And pray they do. Every Monday and Friday night, over 200 people come to pray—for finances, for leaders, and to reach the harvest. And Chavez eagerly anticipates how God will answer: “I believe this year we are going to be up [in giving] ten percent or more. I am trusting God for that.”

 

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