29 Oct 2013

Why Churches Live From Offering to Offering

Founder Raul Rivera

Most people in America live paycheck to paycheck, requiring everything that comes into their house in order to sustain them. Similarly, that unfortunate reality is reflected in most of our churches: an offering-to-offering sustenance plagues churches across this nation, with each week’s success dependent on the previous week’s offering. 

This creates a real financial roller coaster for most pastors. In fact, the financial stress this reliance upon offerings produces can be so great that it has been said, “Many pastors are just one bad offering away from quitting.” 

The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way. There are practices you can put into place that will allow you to move from the land of lack, to the land of plenty. 

Below are 3 simple things you can do to begin shifting your church’s culture of lack.

1.  Build In Margin

I believe everyone knows that in order for one to prosper, one has to have more money at the end of each month than what he/she spends.  This is called a margin.   Therefore, we must pay attention to this key bit of advice. “STOP SPENDING ALL YOU HAVE!”  From a financial perspective, what churches need today isn’t more money; it’s more margin. 

What is margin? Margin is most often recognized as the space at the edges of a sheet of paper that you never write on.  That space is usually reserved for the reader to jot notes as he/she mediates on what was written, therefore gaining more understanding. Developing that line of thought, a financial margin is the extra space - the “more than you need” - area of your budget.  It is the money that you do not touch but rather use to gain financial growth.

So, how do you build margin into your budget?  It begins by creating a budget based on 90% of last year’s total income.  History is always a good teacher.  If we are diligent to account for every penny we receive and spend each year, it serves as a great basis for building a budget next year.  Gleaning from my conversations with many pastors, I can tell you that a majority of pastors set their current budget to be 110% of last year’s budget, believing for the growth. They are setting themselves up to be a week-to-week, offering–to-offering church that is filled with stress and worry.

Do you have any financial margin or are you living offering to offering?  I have noticed that the pastors who exhibit health in their hearts and ministries are those who have prioritized margin. 

2. See the offering plate as seed

I would like for you to think of a bowl of grain.  You can use that bowl in two different ways.  1.  You can grind it all and make some wonderful bread with it, or 2.  You can use some for making bread and save some for sowing, and end up with more bread than you will ever need.  97% of churches today live from offering to offering.  They have learned to look at the offering as money for bills - versus seed for sowing into their own futures.  A critical and fundamental change must take place in our minds and hearts.  This change will not happen overnight.  It will take several months and years for it to fully permeate the way money comes to your ministry.   

If you heed my words, a day will come in your ministry’s future when the finances of your ministry will begin to surpass the dream in your heart.  Right now, it has been my experience that nearly 100% of pastors and leaders have dreams and visions far greater than their financial situation is able to support.  That can change by changing the way you see the offering plate.

The pastors that seem to have more than enough are the pastors who see their offering plate full of seed, not just money. They see the resources that come into the hand as having potential to multiply. To them, they are not being handed something finite - but something potentially infinite!

3. Start a For Profit Arm

Scripture is our guide to better understanding what God has intended for His people.  When Joshua led the people into the Promised Land, the Levites were not given a portion of the land.  Instead they were given 48 towns in which to live.  Each town was surrounded by pastureland.  The Lord then designated that they receive the tithe from among the people and that every third year the entire tithe was to be given to the Levites.  The Levites were responsible to live off of these tithes, and God was establishing that He, through the tithe, would be their portion.  How did God provide for all of their needs and make them prosperous through the tithe?  It all had to do with how they utilized it.  They built in a margin that was consecrated and used for a very specific purpose of multiplication.  God warned them not to treat the tithes given by the people as common (just to pay their own living expenses).  The Levites were to take a portion of their tithes and sow it into their pasturelands so that in doing so, they would continue to increase their margins.  Year after year they were to do this until they had enough margin that tithes did not have to be used for common purposes.  The church as a whole is not there yet, but I see that day coming.  Many churches across America have taken a hold of this vision and are beginning to run with it.  Will you be one of those churches?  

Imagine if your church took a portion of the tithe and set is aside for the purpose of multiplication.  What if your church established a corporation that is separate from the church but has the purpose of multiplying the church’s money through marketplace endeavors?  The law allows a church to do this.  I have had the privilege of helping churches do this.  I was so blessed recently in Seattle at our Ultimate Church Structure Conference to speak with a pastor who last year yielded an extra $100,000.00 for his church through their for profit arm.  By a for profit arm we are not talking about spaghetti dinners, taco sales, or bake sales.  While those may have a place for now, I am referring to real businesses, with employees and CEO’s, owned and controlled by the church. But like any solid investment, the church does not have to be involved in the day-to-day operations.  I am convinced that God wants to take His church to this place.  

I see a day when churches across America reach a place where the tithes become 100% seed and the multiplication (ROI) from the tithes becomes what the church uses for the common things.  Want to know more?  Come to the Ultimate Church Structure Conference.  When you leave you will be convinced that nothing in your dream is impossible to accomplish.

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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