Stewardship isn’t a distinctly Christian idea. Responsible financial practices are encouraged in every industry. In a church context, this is fundamentally about caring for, or stewarding, resources in a God-honoring way.
Church finances are largely supplied by voluntary gifts. As individuals steward their own money and give to the church, the church in turn stewards these gifts responsibly. This is done by managing assets and the business operations of the church.
Stewarding Church Assets
Church assets encompass anything a church owns. Stewardship becomes a front-and-center issue in times of large investments. The largest capital investment most churches will make is in real estate. Real estate has become integral to the life of most churches. Unfortunately, most pastors aren’t trained in business or investment. Ministry Solutions exists to provide a powerful layer of support for executive pastors and church leadership teams. Here are some of the principles we convey to our clients about stewarding their assets.
Church Ministry and Business
First, we always level-set with key term definitions. It’s vital that we are all on the same page about who a church is, what the church mission is and how a church business is structured to support those first two items. For Ministry Solutions:
A church is a group of people brought together by Jesus Christ.
The ministry of the church is to enact God’s redemptive plan through the power of the Holy Spirit, bringing as many people into His family as possible in a way that glorifies Him.
The local church is a business which funds the ministry of the church.
While some church leaders resist this last definition, it’s vital to accept stewardship responsibility of the church’s business operations to effectively accomplish your mission.
Church Real Estate Resources
Land and a building are typically the two largest investments a church will ever make. The goal is that these resources facilitate the church’s vision by providing a context in which ministry is done well. As church leaders, you aren’t primarily oriented toward investment strategies or real estate acquisitions. However, both of these things will arise as your ministry grows.
Our entire philosophy is that church leaders should look at their assets, or real estate, similar to how a developer would.
Developers measure the health of a real estate acquisition in whether or not it can pay for itself. It’s important to note that your building is not your core identity. It should, however, be a highly effective tool to build your church business. Your building should:
Create revenue or pay for itself through multiple uses
Be paid for with good stewardship that build trust with investors and banks
Accelerate and facilitate your church growth
Build confidence and inspire generosity from your congregation
The money you receive to pay for a building comes from your people. If people are going to give toward a capital campaign, you need to practice good stewardship.
Good Stewardship vs. Bad Stewardship
A church budget reflects your values. How you allocate money directly indicates what is important to leadership. Your land and building shouldn’t be a “necessary evil,” but seen as a strategic, stewarded investment that will build your church. How you approach real estate and your building can illuminate whether you are practicing good stewardship or bad stewardship.
Good stewardship: A building that pays for itself through the capacity it creates
Bad stewardship: A ministry funding a building versus a building funding ministry
Part of good stewardship includes making the right decisions about debt and financing. This requires some business acumen and negotiating with the right financial institutions to secure the right mortgage, etc. It may also apply to decisions about whether you buy or lease a facility.
Managing a Church Facility
Another part of good stewardship is managing your facility well.
Good facility stewardship isn’t about weekend services. Most often, the missed opportunity in utilizing your space well comes from Monday-Friday operations and programs. Churches shouldn’t sit empty during the week. There is ample opportunity to maximize your use of space through weekday offerings.
You can borrow from the ideas behind childcare facilities, event spaces and co-working spaces to imagine how you can generate revenue from your space during the week. Our team has implemented these strategies for numerous churches like yours. Reach out to our team for ideas.
Stewarding Your Church Finances
Church leaders need to make the right investment of time to gain knowledge and implement best practices for financial stewardship. While most pastoral training doesn’t include real estate strategies or investment banking, there is a basic level of understanding that could be essential to your success.