Budgets are tight. Not only does it cost more to buy milk, it costs more to drive to the store to get the milk (even with the recent drop in gas prices). Families have had to start making cuts to make ends meet, and church giving is one of the places where we can expect to see cuts. So, what should churches do? I posed this question on the blog of church consultant, Bill Easum, and he responded with very wise advice. I think it is important to consider that there are right and wrong ways to cut the budget.
Churches must be intentional about where we make cuts. Basically, we must try to protect the budget lines that are dedicated to growing the church. These line items are the ones that fund our Christian mission to reach new people. If you cut these areas that grow the church, the church will stagnate and then enter decline making your financial woes worse instead of better. It creates a downward spirial that gets exponentially worse with time. So while it may seem easy to cut outreach events and marketing, it goes against our mission and does more harm than good.
For people in these difficult times, giving less to the church is a way to meet their other financial reponsibilities. We need to teach, as Bill Easum says, living within our means and percentage giving. I am a huge fan of Dave Ramsey. He teaches how to get out of debt, how to live within your means, and how to be intentional about giving to the church. I believe that most Christians would like to tithe, but just do not know how. It’s up to the church to teach them how.