As church leaders we need to be strategic investors in the future of our ministry. There are no prizes for spending the least amount of money … the goal is to spend every dollar that our people give to us on expenses that will push the ministry forward. We’re called to find high leverage opportunities that will help us achieve our mission more quickly. Below are a few areas that I think churches chronically under spend on … to the point where it might actually be holding back their mission!
How do you read the story of the investors in Matthew 25? It’s not about hoarding the resources the Father has given us … it’s about investing them in a way that sees the largest return possible. Here are ways to increase your spending in areas that will return for your community.
- Family Ministry Environments // One of the universal truths that I’ve come to believe is that the most creative and dedicated leaders in most churches are in Family Ministry. They do an amazing job week in and week out communicating the message of Jesus in ways that connect at a deep level with the next generation. Family Ministry people are on the front line of ensuring that the church doesn’t slip into irrelevance because our inability to reach that next generation. But here is the tension … most of your people and guests have no idea what happens in there. All they see is the “check in” area and then go away. They judge the value of the ministry on what they see. Does the physical environment communicate the amazing things that are happening in there? Maybe more to the point … does the physical space communicate to your Family Ministry team how much you value them? What could you do next year to upgrade the physical space that your Family Ministry people use?
- Regular Volunteer Meals // We provide a free meal for every volunteer each weekend at our church. This isn’t cheap. In our four different locations we do a wide variety of things … at some locations we rent out local burger joints, sometimes we cater in a Chinese food buffet, plus we know every place to get 100s of Breakfast Sandwiches on a Sunday morning in our cities! The relationships that are developed around these meals are priceless … this is literally putting our “community building” value where our mouth is. How could you add this next year?
- FREE T-Shirts! // I love that all of our volunteers … whether you are a Wall Street Tycoon or just coming out of a residential 12 step program all wear the same T-shirts! This year we are on pace to give away almost 4 times our average Sunday attendance! We give them to first time guests as a thank you gift for coming … everyone who volunteers (even for just a couple hours!) gets a t-shirt … plus we have some special shirts here and there. T-shirts help identify people as a part of the team. They have a higher perceived value than actual cost … people do love a great free t-shirt.
- Way Too Much Signage // When your guests arrive on a weekend do they know where to go? Probably not! If your regular people don’t look at your signage and think “that’s way too much” then you don’t have enough. An abundance of signage is all about going out of the way to make your guests feel welcome. What if next year you set out to double the amount of signage you had? (And then doubled it again the following year?) There is no such thing as too much signage … really. Next time you are in an airport … notice how much signage they have pointing you in the right direction. That’s a good starting point for how much signage you need. It stinks if people miss their flight because they don’t know where they are going … if our guests turn around and leave because they don’t know where to go … it’s a tragedy!
- Coaching // You are probably facing some challenges at your church as you look into the next year. Other churches have faced the same problems and overcome them. Really. There are people who make themselves available through coaching relationships to help you overcome the next hurtle you are facing as a leader. The Kingdom needs your church to be firing on all cylinders … there is no virtue in spinning your tires for another year! What if you hired a coach for this coming year to help you take your ministry to the next level? The fact that it’s costing you money will help focus your attention on improving because you want to be a good steward. You don’t need to go to another inspirational conference or read another blog post (ouch) but what you do need to do is to pick a strategy and execute on it. Coaches can help with that. [If you still don’t believe me … read this post from Thom Rainer.]
What would you add to this list? What are areas that you have invested in that other church leaders might consider “extravagant” but have paid huge dividends towards your mission? Leave a comment or two!