We just completed our annual church conference and one of the decisions was to change the fiscal year of the church from a “January to December” basis to a “July to June” basis.This is 1) more in line with the operations of the church and 2) moves fund raising to perhaps a better part of the year. If we had kept our budget cycle in line with the calendar then our stewardship activities would be right now and perhaps that is not the best idea at that the moment.
I sometimes wonder about stewardship because it is often stated in terms of the operation of the church itself instead of the mission of the church. It is almost as if the mission of the church is its operation and what the church does comes secondary. I have seen two different churches make the pledge to tithe the weekly offering (that is, take 10% of the offering) and set it aside for the apportionments. In both cases, the churches were struggling financially.
In both cases, the apportionments were paid in full by the end of the year (in the first case, this was after not having paid any apportionments for six months; in the second case, it resulted in being one month ahead on the apportionments) and with no adverse effects on the operations of the church. To the best of my knowledge, both churches have prospered and grown. In a third case, the church was also declining but they rejected the idea and sadly continued the slow and painful decline of the church; it may very well close after next year’s Annual Conference.
It cannot be categorically stated that such an idea was the significant reason for the churches nor was this a creative use of the prosperity gospel theme. It was a simple statement that this is what we are about, everything else is secondary. If everything else has to be met before the apportionments are paid, I think it is clear that the people are not focusing on what a church is but rather what they want the church to be.
I feel the same way about fund raisers as the means to financial solvency. Fund raisers are nice and I am going to propose one in a paragraph or two. But fund raisers should, in my opinion, never be used to meet budget shortfalls or long-term needs. Fund raisers are not the way to fund a church but I see too many churches that utilize various forms for just those reasons.
Once upon a time a church I was involved with decided to have a hog roast. It was intended to be an event that would let the people in the area know that the church was there. That first year, it didn’t do too well but that was because we didn’t check the schedule and the hog roast conflicted with another community event. The next year, there was a discussion about having another hog roast.
The issue was raised that the first one didn’t raise much money (which was never the reason in the first place). I pointed out that it did in fact turn a profit and that the second one would as well. It wasn’t the same as Joe Namath guaranteeing that the Jets would be the Colts but it was close.
The second hog roast was a success, both monetarily (though, again, that wasn’t the reason for the event) and from a mission standpoint. For in organizing the second hog roast, I got someone involved with the church in a way that utilized skills that he had. If the purpose of the hog roast had been to make money, we may not have had the second one and we would not have brought someone new into the church. But because the hog roast was put on to bring people in, it was a success.
There was a hog roast the next year and there were new people involved with it so it could be deemed a success.
The business of the church is the people and the people should be put first. If you put the building that is called the church, then you have problems.
Now, having said all that, here is my idea for a fund raiser that has a nice outcome. It will require that you have one or two musicians who can write music.
They write an original piece and you show the musical manuscript to everyone. Then you say, “if you want to know how this sounds, quarter notes cost so much, rests are a $.25 a piece, and a chord is $10.00” or something like that. Full orchestration will probably raise enough money to fund the operations of the church for a year or so. And in the end, you have a nice little piece of music that reminds you that people put it together.