Tag Archive - finance

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Underfunded: 4 Reasons Why Church Vision Stalls

We believe in the power of a clear vision and a solid action plan to help churches move forward.

But too often, we see churches seek God for a vision, diligently plan for action and then hit a wall they don’t have to hit. We have seen passionate teams and inspiring visions stall out because one key aspect commonly receives too little focus…funding.

We often see church leaders sidestep this component of vision. No matter the effort and inspiration, an underfunded vision will result in a stagnant plan.

This is a conversation we’ve been having lately. We want to invite you into it. Join Tony Morgan, Joe Sangl and Marty Schmidt for a free webinar on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 1pm EST.

Underfunded: 4 Reasons Church Vision Stalls

The conversation will center on the most common reasons we see church vision stall when it comes to funding.

You will learn to recognize and diagnose issues like:

  • The Un-Fundable Vision
  • Fundraising vs. Building a Generous Culture
  • The Campaign Trap
  • Not Knowing What You Don’t Know (and Proceeding Anyway)

Space is limited, so register asap. We hope to see you there!


Posted in Leadership

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Navigating the Money Conversation at Church: A Practical Resource for Leaders

Most churches that create a strategic plan never quite figure out how to fund it.

I’ve seen it happen over and over: a leadership team creates a strong strategic plan and commits to working it. But, they get stuck when it comes to directing their resources to effectively fund the plan. Talking about finances with your leadership team is really tough. This is why many strategic plans end up only partially funded or shelved altogether.

You created your strategic plan because you care about your church’s future. But to implement it well, you have to have the hard conversations and wrestle with difficult questions like:

  • What ministries are a priority for growth?
  • What ministries should we bury?
  • Where are the best places to direct our funds?

It’s important to navigate this topic well with your team so that you can begin to align your budget with your strategy to fully fund your vision.


That’s why we’ve created a new eBook at The Unstuck Group called Funding Your Strategic Plan. It equips church leaders with the tools they need to:

  1. Critically assess their church’s budget and expenses.
  2. Develop a vision-minded budget around core growth engines.
  3. Change how you and your staff spend your money.

You’ll learn how to dissect the types of expenses in your plan, pinpoint missing links and hidden dollars, and identify wise and foolish budgeting. We’ll show you how to leverage your existing assets to generate extra income for your church and get started with a capital campaign. Plus, you’ll learn how to talk about money to your congregation–and inspire generosity in the process.

The future of your church is greatly influenced by how you direct your resources. Follow this link to get your copy and help lead your church to financial health.


Posted in Leadership

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Breaking Through Your Capacity Lid

If you lead long enough eventually every leader and every organization will hit a leadership lid. You are going to outgrow your leadership skills and your organizational structures at some point. But what do you do when the lid at your church is a capacity lid? Capacity lids show up all over the place.

Facilities: If you build it they won’t always come.

  • Too many churches acquiesce to the pressure to build too soon and as a result they don’t maximize their current space. Instead of building try running multiple weekend services, try multiple venues on the same campus, park off campus, or move to a multisite strategy.

Volunteers: Volunteers are more important than the ministries.

  • Most churches run short on volunteers because they use volunteers to do the ministry instead of realizing that the volunteers are the ministry. Volunteering is discipleship. Take care of, invest in, and lead your volunteers and they’ll take care of the ministry.

Finances: Financial shortfalls can limit opportunities.

  • The two sides to finances in a church setting are building a culture of generosity in your church and then managing those finances so you position yourself to say yes to Jesus when He provides clear vision and opportunity. Immature organizations over extend themselves financially and self impose artificial lids as a result.

Staffing: The team outperforms the individual every time.

  • Scouting, attracting, developing and keeping talented team members are essentials to a growing church. But before you think paid staff think volunteer leaders. Paying people to do ministry should be the last resort.

Leadership: Leadership is a spiritual gift, but you can develop your leadership skills.

  • Leading a church of 100, 500, 1,000 and 10,000 are not the same thing. The higher you go you move from the science side of leadership to the art side of managing the momentum and emotion of the room. Get outside your tribe and start listening to and learning from successful people and organizations in other industries.

Character: Your talent can take you further than you character can sustain.

  • Character is the lowest leadership lid. No level of competency will ever make up for a fatal flaw in character because ministry and leadership run on trust. Character flaws erode trust every time.

Posted in Leadership

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Why People don’t Financially Invest in your Church

I recently read Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate by Clif Christopher. It’s a quick read that you can get through in one sitting, but it’s full of principles that you’ll come back to over and over again. There are a lot of reasons why people don’t give to churches as much as they used to. This book does a great job of helping to identify those reasons but it also gives pastors and church leaders steps they can take to move things in the right direction. If you’re a church leader and you haven’t read this book…you should. Here are some of the key ideas that stood out to me from my reading:

1. There is more Competition than ever for Charitable Dollars in America

The number of non-profit organizations is increasing every year and as a result competition for charitable dollars is increasing. It’s not that people are less charitable; it’s just that they’re directing it to other places than the church. “Since 2001, giving to religion has shown a rate of growth of 3.6%, while disposable income has increased more than 8%. People have the money and they continue to give. Religion is just no longer their charity of choice.” Church leaders should be asking themselves, “Why?”

2. Nonprofits know Why people Give while Churches just think people should give out of Obedience to the Scriptures

Multiple research studies have shown that there are three key reasons that people give: (1) A belief in the mission of the institution, (2) A high regard for staff leadership, and (3) Fiscal responsibility of the institution.

3. Nonprofits communicate from a position of Strength while Churches communicate from a position of Weakness

Nonprofits rarely, if ever, communicate about finances. What they communicate is stories of life change, real results from the investments that others have made in the nonprofit. Then they ask for more money. Churches don’t talk about results (probably because truth be told not many are actually producing many life changing results) instead they talk about their needs and how they are behind budget or need more volunteers. People with the ability to significantly invest in the Gospel work at your church don’t want to throw good money after bad. They are looking for a return on their investment, and rightly so. The Scriptures teach us that Jesus is too.

4. The Pastor should know who gives what

I know this may sound off to some but listen…(1) It will help them raise more money to fund the work of the Gospel [different people have different gifts and roles to play in the body of Christ] (2) It helps determine if what the church is doing is actually working. [people give to and support what changes their lives] (3) It allows the pastor to say thank you to donors [the church is notorious for not saying thank you]. Most people whose hair stands up at this idea simply don’t want their pastor to know what they give because they’re not being generous and following the Bible’s teachings on finances.

5. Help people Give

Many people want to obey Jesus and be generous with what they have to advance the Kingdom of God through the local church. Unfortunately many of those same people have not used the money that God has given them very well up to this point and they’re not in a position to be generous. Does your church have a plan or resource to help people learn how to manage what God has given them in a God honoring way?

6. The best way to raise money for your church is to DO YOUR JOB!

Peter Drucker wrote, “A business has discharged its task when the customer buys the product, pays for it, and is satisfied with it. Government has discharged its function when its policies are effective. The nonprofit institution neither supplies goods, services, or controls. Its product is neither a pair of shoes nor an effective regulation. Its product is a changed human being. The nonprofit institutions are human change agents. Their ‘product’ is a cured patient, a child that learns, a young man or woman grown into a self-respecting adult; a changed human life altogether.” In other words when your church consistently shows how lives are being changed, when marriages are healed, addicts find freedom, people fall on their knees and follow Jesus – people will support your church.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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Take the 2014 Church Budgeting Survey

At the end of April I announced a new project I’m beginning to work on, a Church Budgeting Survey. While I’ll admit that at first pass a church budgeting survey may not seem very sexy, the results will be very helpful. At the end of the day my hope is to help churches make vision real, and if churches can begin to allocate their financial resources in a way manner that helps them move towards their vision, then the Kingdom wins!

I’m excited to let you know that since the release of the survey, responses have been coming in from churches of all kinds of sizes and denominational affiliations. Church plants, multisite churches and megachurches of more that 15,000 in attendance have all participated!

In a couple of weeks the research gathering phase of this project will be complete and I don’t want you or your church to miss out on the opportunity to participate.

The responses from this survey will allow churches to gain valuable information such as:

  • What percentage of our budget should go towards Staffing, Operations, Ministry, and Missions?
  • What is “normal” weekly giving at a church our size?
  • How much debt do churches of similar size carry?
  • Do these percentages change as the size of our church changes over time?
  • How do different churches go about building their annual budget?

The more churches who participate, the more specific comparisons can be provided.

Click Here To Take The Survey

Benefits of participating: For those who participate, you’ll receive the full results in an executive summary before findings of the survey are made public! And, you’ll be provided with a copy of the data. No worries, the data will be sanitized to remove possible church-identifiers for anonymity. All for free. Thanks ahead of time for participating in the survey and for helping churches make vision real!


Posted in Leadership