Bonus Deep Dive: Current Best Practices in Operational Reserves for Your Church with Steve Carr

Thanks for tuning in to the unSeminary podcast. Today we’re doing a bonus deep dive about operational reserves and how much our churches should be saving. We have expert Steve Carr from CDF Capital with us to help us think through these questions.

  • Maintain generosity. // During the pandemic, churches trended toward either maintaining their giving levels or increasing those levels. Most churches weren’t drastically impacted financially during this time because their congregation still gave. The blessing during this time is that many churches emerged almost financially stronger. The thing to be aware of now is: How are you cultivating givers to maintain that generosity?
  • Plan ahead in savings. // Pre-pandemic the general rule was for churches to have three to six months of savings in reserve. Many churches are now looking at a six-to-twelve-month trend in judging how much they need to store in savings. It’s up to the church to determine what is a good amount and how long should they maintain it.
  • Help in forbearance. // The Church Assistance Plan at CDF Capital allows the equivalency of two months forbearance for every church in their portfolio. The payment is offset to the end of the loan. 66% of the churches in their portfolio have used this plan for help during this time.
  • Are you really reaching the community? // People tithe and give so that the church can have an impact. We don’t want to keep so little in reserve that it puts the ministry at risk. There is a tension to be managed. Even if your church has a lot of money in savings, for example in an endowment, ask yourselves: are you operating just to keep the organization flowing? Or are you actually being creative in the way you’re trying to reach your community?
  • View through a theological lens. // The teams in churches should talk about their theology of stewardship. How do you allocate the funds you have now? How can you be generous with your abundance? How will you prepare for an economic dip that may affect those funds? View it all through a theological lens and be responsible in not spending everything you have post-COVID. Think about how you as church leaders will embrace the changing world in post-COVID reality.
  • Hold onto humility. // We might think we know what’s going to happen, but we never do, and that shows our limitations as human beings. If we can hold onto being humble throughout this season, our churches will be better off in the years to come.
  • Keep cash readily accessible. // Steve recommends that fifty percent of your church’s reserve should be in a flexible checking or savings account. You won’t get a great interest rate, but CDF Capital can help with that. Additionally, put some of your reserves into a higher yield certificate to get a better rate.
  • Diversify your savings. // Diversification is still a principle that needs to be applied to congregational savings. It’s not wise to have all of your money in a single institution. There is an element of risk in anything done with money, so having them in different places can help lower that risk.

You can learn more about CDF Capital at cdfcapital.org.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.