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Follow the Money

Budgets reveal congregational priorities--and givers are watching more closely than ever.
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In light of tightening financial times, and the heightened scrutiny of household spending that follows, some churches are making it easier for congregants to follow the money. Waterfront Community Church in Schaumburg, Illinois, gives 100% of its offerings each week to local households identified by a partnering Christian agency. This practice allows a church member, in pastor Jim Semradek's words, to "see a face on the other side that you're blessing."

How does the church take care of its own operating costs? Eight sponsors cover rent and salaries, freeing it to use all of its offering in this way. The model is an attempt to restore trust in local churches and return mission to the core of their identity. Its mission-minded sponsors believe freeing Waterfront from concerns about its own expenses does just that.

Waterfront is, of course, not alone among local churches experimenting with new budgetary models as it rethinks mission.

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