Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thinking Strategically In 2010

Making better decisions in lean times.
By Matt Branaugh

Your Church magazine asked its
Editorial Advisors and Contributing Editors how pastors, business administrators, and executive pastors can lead well amid the changing realities in 2010—and here's what they said. Last week on, we shared part of their answers in "Thinking Financially in 2010." This week, we look at strategic areas where church leaders should concentrate:

Use scarcity to find clarity

Decreases in weekly collections at churches across the country received widespread media attention throughout 2009. Though some churches' collections managed to remain flat, or even grow, the majority of congregations felt a financial pinch. LifeWay Research reported in January that more than half of the 1,002 pastors it surveyed said the poor economy hurt their church. In a poll in early January, nearly half of the respondents said their churches entered 2010 financially weaker because of 2009.

With unemployment still above 10 percent, 2010 isn't likely to bring widespread relief, either. That means church leaders will need to "make every penny shine and every dollar crisp. Every expense has got to be justified," says John Throop, the priest-in-charge for Trinity Episcopal Church, a 300-member congregation in Portsmouth, Virginia.

For Throop, the clarity comes when a church uses a "We will … so that …" approach for its mission statement. Filling in the blanks forces leaders to answer the question of where God is taking them.

"Scarcity does lead to clarity," says Brian Kluth, a pastor who was commissioned by his Colorado Springs church to help churches around the country with giving and generosity.

The strategy for church leaders in 2010 is to guide their churches in facing hard choices, with potential decisions to cut popular staff members or ministries that members love. Painful as these changes may be, they're critical to the long-term health of the church.

"When you're discerning and selective, hard conversations come," says Joy Skjegstad, a Minneapolis-based consultant to churches. But the payoff should come in the long term. "Churches can't be everything to everybody, and they need to realize their unique gifts and abilities," she says.


Until next time...share the journey and enjoy the ride!