23 Oct 2014

Not Just Tithes and Offerings But Also Ecclesiastical Entrepreneurism

Founder Raul Rivera

Over three years ago, I engaged in a six-month study of the economy that God established for Israel and how the priesthood would prosper.  In the book of Numbers, chapter 18, shortly after setting aside Levi and his sons as the leaders of the priesthood, God gave them duties and by the very performance of those duties they received their provision from the Lord.  However, just before Israel entered the Promised Land God prescribed a new plan of provision.  In Numbers 35 God commanded that forty-eight cities be apportioned to the Levites from among the eleven tribes.  Each city was to have pasturelands that surrounded it.  It is here that we find how the priesthood would not just survive but prosper.   Because they would receive a tithe of the animals and of the grain, it was the priests' responsibility to take that tithe and multiply it on their pasturelands.  It was their way of investing a portion of what was given to them and making it grow. 

97% of church money is spent on administrative costs

In today's church environment over 97% of tithes and offerings collected are spent in administrative costs such as salaries and building facilities, and the other 3% usually goes into a savings or low yield CD of some sort.  I am not seeing churches embrace the concept of ecclesiastical entrepreneurism.  It is what the Levites embraced.  And they grew not just in numbers but also in wealth.  The idea behind ecclesiastical entrepreneurism is that a church stewards what has been given to it in the same way that the Levites did.  This concept is found in the Old Testament and also in the New Testament in Matthew 25:14-30.  In this passage three men were each given certain amounts of wealth to manage.  After an unknown period of time, each was called to account for their returns on investment; the only one with which the king was upset was the one who did not multiply it.

Chances are, at the very moment you are reading this article, the dream and vision in your heart is much bigger than your finances.  It is a most common struggle in American ministry today!  Yet, there is an answer that lies closer to you than what you may think:  ecclesiastical entrepreneurism-a concept I would like to develop in the mind of each and every single pastor and Christian leader in America.  Let me give some examples:

Example 1:  Pastor Tom loves to preach every Sunday using illustrations that involve a multimedia experience, whether music and video, PowerPoint, Bible verses on screen, or sermon notes being distributed.  He is able to that because his church uses the services of a video/multimedia company.  Every week Pastor Tom gets the invoice from this company and it is $0.00.  Why is it FREE?  Well, that is because his church owns 100% of the issued shares of the business.  Wow!  Amazing!  It's a real for profit business that the church owns.  In addition, the business pays the church a quarterly dividend of around $12,000.00.  Those dividends are tax free to the church.

Example 2:  When Christian Outreach Church moved into a new facility, they had to hire a cleaning company.  At first, they paid around $1,450.00 per month to keep the church facilities clean and the bathrooms stocked.  Now they don't pay anything!  It's free.  Why?  Because the pastor decided that the church would start a cleaning company, as a church owned business.   The pastor, and church board, appointed a young, energetic couple from the church as the new part-time, and mostly volunteer, CEO and CFO.  With the money that the company received when the church purchased its shares, it was able to print business cards and to purchase minimal cleaning and maintenance equipment.  The church was its first client.  Instead of the church paying the other company, it paid its newly owned business.   Soon the funds in the business began to grow.  The church owned business began to buy new equipment and extend its customer base.  Within two years it was cleaning movie theatres, office buildings and high-end homes.  Now the church gets all of its cleaning for free and enjoys occasional dividends. The young couple now works full time for the company, which has 13 employees, many of which are members of the church.

Opportunity surrounds you

Business opportunities come to your ministry more often than you think.  When you embrace ecclesiastical entrepreneurism as a God-thing, you begin to find that many of the areas of need in your church are the areas where for profit businesses owned by the church will be the solution.   Think of it this way!  If you have to pay for something, why not just pay yourself?  Let me explain.

There are certain costs you will run into on a regular basis that result from ministry vision and growth.  These costs often times force you to scale back.  What if you confront these costs by forming companies that provide your ministry with needed services, and at a cheaper price than the competition?  With the ministry as a client, the business can produce income and continue to expand until it is sustainable even while offering its services to the ministry at no charge.  Here are three things to consider when starting a church owned business:

1.     Rely on the talents of church members:  There are many responsible individuals who would jump at the opportunity to spearhead business ventures for the church.  This gives them a chance to get involved in the ministry and make something out of nothing.

2.      Your best volunteers may become the best entrepreneurs:  One thing that churches and ministries learn quickly when deciding whom to hire is that the best volunteers make the best employees.  The opposite is also true, bad volunteers make bad employees regardless of their talent.  When considering who should lead a for profit concern, you must find a leader who is a good volunteer and equally talented.

3.    Seek business opportunities that require minimal investment:  The phrase that says, "it takes money to make money" is not true.  In today's world, there are literally thousands of business opportunities that require little to no money to become successful.  Seek those out first.  Make it a part of your daily routine in prayer to ask the Lord to open your eyes and awaken your mind to the countless opportunities that exist. 

You are called to ecclesiastical entrepreneurism

Your call to lead a ministry requires that you steward the finances and find ways to increase them.  In the parable of the talents, we find that two of the men given talents actually put them to work.  Though the Scripture never tells us if or how the master instructed them regarding what methods to use, it does clearly state they were required to multiply the finances, and that they did so immediately.  Likewise, as you properly use the finances in your ministry, you will find opportunities to multiply them, and your success will attract more success.  One thing is for sure, people flock to glean wisdom and understanding from those who know how to do something well.  That open door greatly increases your opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ.  As increased authority, stewardship and overflow become permanent residents in your ministry, you will truly get to know that good stewardship is very rewarding.

Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

Raul Rivera

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