Last week’s stock market fluctuations aside, the economy seems to be on the upswing. Economists point to statistics like orders for durable goods and slowly easing unemployment rates as their proof.
I knew it was better in late December by the mail we didn’t receive.
At the Foundation we have investments from about 160 local churches and other ministries. These are typically endowments, but can also be reserve funds, building funds and others.
In December of 2010 we saw significantly fewer withdrawals at year-end as churches tried to catch up with their bills.
This tells me two things. First, that giving was probably up and more churches were able to meet their financial obligations through the offering plate and didn’t need to tap other financial assets.
It also tells me that churches probably scaled back their spending to better match their members’ giving. This is easier said than done and we know that it can take a few budget cycles for all of the cuts to happen that need to.
So now that your budget is in line and your giving has recovered, take a step back and examine what happened in the last three years.
- If you had to make cuts did they significantly impact your ability to make and mature disciples?
- Were you in a place where you could weather a tough economy fairly well or did it lay bare your existing financial weakness?
- How did your members respond to the need? Were those who were able to step up their giving willing to do so? Were they even asked?
- If the budget shrank, where did the money come from? Did the cuts come from those areas that serve your members’ needs or did the church cut back on outreach, missions and evangelism?
- During one of your meetings, was the consensus, “I sure wish that 10 years ago we would have ….. and we would be in far better shape right now.”
- What long-term difference in your church and your church finances would have helped in the last three years? An endowment? A bigger endowment? Getting rid of debt? Having a stronger culture of generosity?
You can’t change what they did ten years ago. But this is the time to make those changes moving forward. Tough times will, unfortunately, come again. What should you be doing to improve things for the next round?