One of the books my parents read to me when I was a young child was the Tale of the Ant and the Grasshopper. The Ant prepared for the winter but the Grasshopper played through the summer and fall with no thought to the future. The Ant ends up taking the Grasshopper in during the dead of winter and saves his life. The moral of the story. Prepare for winter! When we move the application to church and ministry it tells us to develop a plan to sustain our ministry through potentially bad times.
In your church who is the key leader? Where does the buck stop? Most likely it is at the Senior Pastor’s desk. Serving in the 21st century requires that the pastor be more than a preacher and counselor. He must be a leader and manager and prepare his flock to continue to minister through down times financially. In other words, be an ant not a grasshopper. Being an ant requires long range planning to develop financial sustainability for your ministry. In my ministry design coaching I often run across leaders that confess their ministry has no surplus funds set aside for a rainy day. No plan to produce revenue for their ministry if they have a snow day or something else happens to keep their congregation from meeting and taking up offerings. They live week to week. Paycheck to paycheck. Not a wise way to live. Ask Dave Ramsey.
What are some steps you can take to address your “grasshopper” situation?
First, I would start a conversation about your situation. Sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the situation will not make it go away. You’ve got to start talking about it. First with God and then with your leaders and eventually with your congregation.
Secondly, when you talk about it be honest and transparent. Let them know how the economy is affecting their ministry. Give them an opportunity to be generous.
Thirdly, find innovative ways to meet needs with less money and share these ways with your leadership team and congregation. Challenge your people to help you innovate solutions to the challenge of “less money”.
Fourth, show them how every dollar is being spent and connect their dollar to ministry results. Show them how their giving is making a difference. Commit to making the best use of every resource. No exceptions. Hold yourself and your leadership team accountable to your contributors. This is what other non-profits are doing and it seems to be the culture of the day. This is how people are thinking. The day of stating “this is your church and your tithe belongs here” is seemingly slipping away. A new day is dawning and we must prepare for it.
Copyright ©2013 Marshall Shannon