Ninety percent of churches have no stewardship plan. When a church does not meet its budget for three to four consecutive years, budget credibility is negated and people do not participate in the vision or the funding.
Eighty-two percent of church members will increase their giving, if asked.
Only 2 to 4 percent of seminaries and only 1 to 2 percent of Christian colleges and universities teach biblical financial principles at all.
Your church is healthy if the training, mobilization, support, and sending out of missionaries here and overseas is occurring. Your church budget is the clue to what is important and what is not. If you are not sending and supporting people to do the Lord’s work, then what are you doing (Matt. 28:18-20)?
Goals are also are crucial for targeting opportunities and action plans, and strategizing on going from one point to another in personal life as well as ministry. Goals are tools to assist growth and to better our call to Christ and our service to one another. However, goals are not the focus, nor are they the ministry. Too many churches put all of the “eggs in the one basket” of goals, ignoring everything else in ministry care and love. Concentrating on goals as the principle endeavor causes them to become an idol of worship, not the tool they should be. Guard against allowing goals to cause myopia so that everything and everyone else is ignored! At the same time, make sure the plans are not so loose that there is no direction or purpose. Either situation is counterproductive!
These are basic goal setting exercises, which can be used in all phases and aspects of the church, from the mission statements of the Pastor and elders, to those of the nursery workers.
Ask questions and listen carefully. Will Rogers once said, “The greatest compliment you can pay a person is to ask them a question and then listen to their response.” The key is to be a good listener and build relationships, and, after listening, to make sure something will be done about it. Do not just listen and walk away. If there is a problem, find a solution!
List all the goals that come to mind, and then start to prioritize those goals.
Plan for a year!
- Use your annual church calendar for your planning cycle.
- The leadership of the church needs to set aside time to plan the entire year, listing all the major activities. This will show the big picture. Provide a good daily management tool for the church, such as a controlling calendar that creates clear church communication of events, resources, programs, and facilities.
- Involve as many as possible in the planning! Conduct surveys, have a church meeting, have each committee submit its input, randomly ask questions by calling and visiting members. Do not ignore anyone–have an “open door policy.”
- The typical church is made up of factions with opposing philosophies, loyalties, turf conflicts, differing perspectives, and agendas. Identify and listen to the key “opinionated people” in your church in each faction. The leadership of the church is not always in charge or on the board! Know whom the real movers and leaders in your church are by observing that they have followers and others who listen to them. Leaders function as either movers or blockers. Sometimes members do not have the time to serve officially, or they have the “gift” of dissention and strife. Alternatively, they may be too shy or humble to be in leadership. Whatever the reason, be sensitive and listen, build relationships and bridges! You goal is to get them on board in a Godly direction, to let them see the big picture, and to get their input and then strategize on how to work tighter, together.
- Make sure you find and listen to the people who have left the church because they usually have key information. Do not just go to them just for information, but try to build a bridge and solve the issues to bring them back! If you wait more than three months after a person or family leaves, it may be too late to bring them back but not too late to listen to them!
- Take time to process people. You cannot just set goals and expect the people to comply and be enthusiastic. They have to be involved in the process, and have ownership in it! It is a lot easier to lead a group of people if they are behind, pushing, rather than trying to lead them where they are afraid to go or where they feel they have no input.
- Listen to Pastors and leadership who have moved on to other churches, and get their feedback.
- People tend to become committed, excited, and involved in what they help develop. They will ignore and even fight against even a good and needed goal if they feel they were not listened to. A leader needs to find a way to involve as many people as possible without compromising the Scriptural purpose and goals of the church. People need to be heard! Of course, make sure your goals are the right goals, not ones motivated by agendas other than being our best for His glory!
- Your congregation must see what you see before they can agree on the plan and purpose you bring to them. Communication is key! Make sure possible objections are explored, and be able to answer them with possible solutions.
10. Focus on the opinion of Leaders who have the pulse of the church and God in their hearts! Be wise to selfish agendas and pride!
11. Separate discussion from decision. Make sure there is an atmosphere of trust and listening. Have forums after church services for feedback. Share ideas in several stages so people are allowed to think through and process change. Then, provide opportunities for further discussion. The greater the change, the more time and information people will need in order to process and take ownership of that change.
12. Distinguish between needs and ideas. A bad idea might be expressing an unmet need. On the other hand, a good idea may be one that you did not think of, but to which attention needs to be given.
13. Most conflicts arise because people were not listened to! (See our articles on Conflict Management!)
14. Do not be afraid to ask someone to seek another church if they are fighting against the church leadership and are not motivated by Godly principles! Never force people out just because of differences of opinion, because iron sharpens iron. Seek causes and motivations by listening and through prayer. (Matthew 18; Romans 16:17-18 & Titus 3:9-11)
15. Give the people permission to fine-tune the goals and proposals being made.
16. Make sure there is adequate time for each team and pastor to involve their team as well as input from the congregation in the process.
17. Make out your budget according to goals.
18. Maintain an effective financial control system with checks and balances, and accountability.
19. Control your expenses and cash flow analysis.
20. Have a church wide congregational meeting once a year to go over the year plan, restate the church’s mission and purpose, and present the budget and programs for approval. In this way, the process will reflect the needs of the congregation. People need to be heard, even if they are not in leadership; we are the body of Christ. The average person in the pew needs to have a degree of ownership in the church’s ministry plan!
Copyright 1988, 1998, 2000 Richard J. Krejcir http://www.churchleadership.org