Stress-Free Preaching

Written by Raul Rivera on Mar 01, 2016 in Church Management

It was 30 minutes before service started, and Pastor Morris sat at his desk with his sermon in one hand and the church’s account statement in the other. Although the church’s account was not “in the red”, it was awfully close to it, and in order to keep on top, the church would need to bring in a healthy sized offering that morning. But as Pastor Morris sat there in his office, he felt caught between a rock and a hard place. He had a dilemma on his hands, and he was not quite sure what to do.

You see, the sermon that Pastor Morris had in his hand for that morning’s service was one he had felt the Lord lay on his heart earlier in the week. It was a sermon about the pitfalls of pride and greed. The problem was that he knew this sermon would not settle well with some of his church’s more generous givers.

Knowing that the church needed to receive a good offering that morning, Pastor Morris sat there contemplating whether or not he should preach the sermon that the Lord gave him, or if he should just preach a sermon on the love of God.

A common occurrence in today’s church

When you survey churches across America, less than 3% of churches earn income outside of tithes, offerings, and pledges. The giving of tithes and offerings remains the traditional method from which churches generate income; however, this method alone also continues to be a source of stress for many pastors across the country.

At all of our conferences, we teach the biblical model for the church to have a for-profit arm (extension) that generates income in the same way that the Lord provided for the Levites. Speaking from experience, I know what it is like to wonder and pray for enough tithes to come in so that rent for the month will be covered. I also know what it is like not knowing if the church will have enough money to cover payroll. Because of this, pastors may be more cautious about which sermons to preach from the pulpit. Let me explain.

A season for new wine skins

How often do pastors across the country go up to the pulpit on Sunday mornings with two different sermons? Better yet, how often have YOU been in a situation similar to Pastor Morris?

Perhaps one sermon may speak about matters of the heart and being pure before God. Yet, as you approach the pulpit, scan the audience, and notice one of your more generous donors sitting there, you know that the message of purity will not sit well with this particular donor.

Since your church is in need of a large offering in order to cover rent for the month (or anything else for that matter), you are tempted to use your “back-up” message on the love of God. As difficult as this example may be, it is unfortunately an all-too-common occurrence in the church today.

The time for change has come! Life is too short to live satisfied with the traditional. There are “new wineskins” that God has for you and your church in this time and season. So, why not start and run a ministry-owned business and break out of the traditional methods used in the past? Why not begin to utilize a new way of doing church business?

I want to use the remainder of this post to introduce to you what a for-profit arm is, how a for-profit arm functions, and why your church should consider owning a for-profit arm.

What is a for-profit arm?

In essence, a for-profit arm is a ministry-owned business that is explicitly established to do business and to make, for the church, tax-free money paid in the form of donations and dividends. The for-profit arm exists as a regular for-profit business that is described in Internal Revenue Code section 502.

This business can engage in any lawful activity and be open to the general public. The type of business can be anything you want it to be so long as it is a legal business and your ministry feels good about it. Whether it is real estate investing, commercial leasing, hauling, dry cleaning, a retail store, a convenient store, a car dealership, or a restaurant, your church can own the business.

Perhaps you are not familiar with a church being able to own a for-profit arm. However, the concept of a church-owned business is not new. Many churches like the Roman Catholic Church and the Mormon Church have been creatively utilizing church-owned businesses to their benefit for decades.

For example, the Roman Catholic Church owns more real estate than any other organization in the world, and it uses this investment to generate income for the church. An annual statement from the year 2000 revealed that the Roman Catholic Church made nearly 30 billion dollars in profit from real estate in the United States alone.

Likewise, the Mormon Church has two of the nation’s largest for-profit enterprises. Deseret Management Corp. is an umbrella organization for many for-profit businesses, which in total makes annual revenue of over 1.2 billion dollars. Included within the umbrella are a newspaper, eleven radio stations, a TV station, a publishing and distribution company, a digital media company, a hospitality business, and an insurance business.

Just imagine with me for a moment if more churches across the country grasped this concept, how much more of an impact the church would have in the world today. Next, let us look at how a church-owned business functions.

How does a for-profit arm function?

Similar to a nonprofit corporation, the for-profit corporation is formed by filing articles of incorporation with the state. When the church creates the corporation, it assigns a certain number of authorized shares, as listed in the articles of incorporation.

The initial purchase of shares not only gives the church ownership in the business, but it also provides the business with start-up money. This is the only time financial benefit flows from the church to the feeder corporation.

Once the business has made a profit, the board of directors for the for-profit arm can pay that profit to the church in the form of dividends.

Why your church should own a for-profit arm

The fact remains that many churches today struggle just to pay basic expenses such as rent and utilities using only the tithes and offerings received. This, in turn, results in the unnecessary stress that many pastors experience and, at times, may adversely affect the sermons preached from the pulpit on Sunday mornings.

Since the government has made provisions in the tax code to allow churches and other nonprofits to receive passive income from a for-profit corporation, the question now becomes, “Why not take advantage of this benefit allotted to you and your church?” When you begin a church-owned business, the sky is the limit when it comes to generating income for the church.

Conclusion

I love the Church! And when I was a pastor in full-time ministry, I loved serving God, and His people, within that calling. However, I do not believe the stress I experienced at times was of God, especially when He has called us to be the head and not the tail!

I want to encourage you to thoughtfully consider implementing both biblical and legal strategies for your church owning a for-profit arm. Imagine the day when you are no longer solely dependent upon the tithes and offerings the church receives. Imagine the relief of not having to carry around that worry.

If you have any further questions about this dynamic strategy, please feel free to call our office today at 770-638-3444 and ask to speak with one of our church plant consultants, or simply register today to join us at one of our Ultimate Church Structure Conferences in a city near you.

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.

Blessings,
Raul Rivera


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