5. Ask around. Find out if other churches in your community are hurting financially also.
I recall being surprised that the church two miles up our street was going through the same hardships we were. When I made a few calls, other pastors in the area voiced the same concern. That told me it was not something unique to our fellowship but more than likely that some economic thing was occurring in the community. (At this point, my problem became how to get certain people off my back and convince them this financial crisis was not the judgment of God!)
6. Pray more. Keep this on the front burner with the Lord. None of this has caught Him by surprise. He knows the problems, loves the people, possesses the answers and has seen it all from the beginning. When we bring Him our problems, we go to the all-seeing, all-knowing Source of all wisdom.
7. Teach your people. Every church needs a strong stewardship emphasis at least annually. Each new generation must be taught to give generously.
We pastors tend to think because we had such an emphasis five years ago, the congregation is well taught and up to date. However, typically, nearly half the membership has turned over in that time. Your college students have graduated and taken jobs and are earning incomes. Newlyweds are now having children and buying homes. Everything has changed.
8. Call the staff in. If your church has a paid staff (or a strong team of great volunteers), start here. Meet with them and seek their input. They see things the pastor will not be aware of. Be prepared, preacher, to learn something about yourself you may not like—that people are withholding their offerings because of something you did or did not do, that your pet mission project is draining resources, that you are not asking the people to give, that sort of thing.
If programs must be cut or salaries and expenses pared, better the recommendations be initiated by the ones leading those programs rather than a committee announcing whose programs will be canceled.
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