3. Reduce Your Overhead
By all accounts, giving trends are down and will continue to fall.
Churches with top-heavy staffing, excessive mortgages and high maintenance bills will find themselves buried under their increasing weight in the coming decades.
If local congregations, denominations and parachurch ministries hope to survive, they need to get to work on
- Getting out of debt (including mortgage)
- Reducing the percentage of paid staff
- Training and empowering volunteers to lead and serve
- Sharing expenses with other churches and ministries
- Making bivocational ministry the new normal
and anything else that can reduce the financial burden of church maintenance.
4. Rethink Your Building
Until very recently, if someone wanted to start a business, the first thing they did was find or build a store, office, warehouse, or other physical structure.
Today, the rule is to avoid the encumbrance of a physical building for as long as possible. Churches need to do the same.
If your church doesn’t have a building, don’t be in a hurry to buy one. Stay nimble as long as possible.
If you own a building – especially if you’re one of the growing number of churches that own a too-big building for your shrinking congregation – be relentless about finding creative ways to utilize the space as often as possible.
For many of our churches it’s Use It Or Lose It time. As in, use the building or lose the church; facility, people ... everything.
5. Work With Strategic Partners
In many places, smaller churches are banding together – even across denominational lines – to share resources, think strategically, mend old wounds, and minister to their shared community.
In addition, there is a small, but growing network of parachurch organizations that are increasingly willing to come alongside local churches for little or no money to share everything from outreach ideas, to administrative assistance, to graphic design and more.
Start by asking around on social media. You may be surprised what you’ll find. Or start a network yourself. It’s easier to do now than it’s ever been.
6. Engage Your Community
Churches must stop being identified by the location of their building and start being recognized for the passion of their heart.
A church that’s known as “the people who love kids (or addicts, or single moms)” has a much higher likelihood of thriving and surviving than the church that’s known as “the old building on the corner of First and Main.”