The Radical Blessing of Creating Surplus Giving

Before we get started, I want to be clear this is a tool to help you think differently about effectively leading and creating a surplus to unleash vision. Some of the topics may cause you to be uncomfortable at first. Ignore these feelings and just go with it. You are only concerned about the conclusions you make at the end of the tool, not necessarily the minutia you have to think about along the way to get there.

Premise: On average churches spend 50 percent of their resources on staff and 25 percent on programming, ministries, and missions activities. This 75 percent is a huge chunk of resources that need to be continually investigated. Staff expenses can be both productive and unproductive. They can add great value and introduce tremendous risk. The expense of staff is often seen as a fixed expense that cannot be touched. It’s not fixed. It’s a choice. Once you add in the facility expenses, which is your only true fixed expense, ministry and programming activities tend to get the leftover. It can be really shocking the first time a church leader discerns that it is common for 25 percent or less to be dedicated to ministry and missions. So let’s dive into a discussion of the 75 percent (staff, missions, programming) of your resources that can flex to deliver surplus results.

I want to help you evaluate the effectiveness of your ministry strategy and I am going to travel down the road of the staff expense to start the process. I am pro-staff, so go on the journey. Don’t get lost in the minutia. Again, the end of the tool is the goal not the beginning.

  • Create an accurate organization chart that includes ALL paid staff positions.Next, to each position list their total expense to the organization (salary + benefits). Discover what percentage of resources you are investing in your staff. As I mentioned previously, the church on average invests around 50 percent of its resources in their team. Are you above or below the national average?
  • Establish a challenging goal to reduce your staff expense getting it as close to 35 percent of total budget income as possible. Make the number a legitimate stretch, no less than a 10 percent reduction of current staff expense. If the number is not a challenging figure this tool will not be helpful. (Remember do not quit right here; stick with the process.)

Recreate your staff org chart with the following parameters.

  • Financially do not exceed the 35 percent total staff expense figure (or challenge figure you chose.) This means positions might be eliminated, combined, or experience a pay reduction. Obviously, keep this tool private as this information could be unnecessarily alarming. You can even create the organization chart without names only using title names or descriptions.
  • Make a list of non-negotiable ministries, programs, and events that are core to accomplishing your vision. I am sure you have many ministries that are well run, enjoyable, and strongly attended. However, that was not the filter I suggested. Only list the ministry activities that are critical to accomplishing the vision of your church.
  • Make a separate list of the current ministries, programs, and events that were not included in exercise b. Set this list aside for now. This list should contain activities that are now considered negotiable in terms of mission-critical accomplishment. You will come back to it shortly.
  • Merge your work from 3.a. and 3.b. by assigning the core ministries list to the appropriate staff member on your newly designed organization chart. It may take a little forcing and wondering how a certain person could succeed or have the time. Nevertheless, you need to get these core ministries accomplished with these core staff members. They are the heartbeat of your vision.
  1. Now that you have a new org chart and ministry strategy developed that is absolutely critical to core success, you probably have some gaps. You might be seeing more work than one person can do. Also, you may see a surplus of volunteers, dollars or staff members because of the programming reduction you experienced with the non-core activities list from 3.c. Given both, your gaps and surpluses answer the following questions.
  • What new systems could you create to alleviate the gaps or work stress?
  • How might your systems and processes be simplified without reducing the impact?
  • What new opportunities exist for a volunteer position or team?
  • What impact would be lost or risked if you could not solve the gaps with an improved system powered by volunteers?
  1. Let’s return to your list of non-core ministries and activities you previously set aside in 3.c.
  • What would be gained if you took the people and financial resources being invested in these activities and redirected them to the ministries you defined as core?
  • Would there be a measurable loss in conversion or discipleship growth that would not be replaced by a greater focus on the core ministries?
  • Could you possibly experience exponential growth from a greater investment in your core?
  • Could you possibly create a surplus of resources with this growth and freed up cash to better fund your vision in the future, thus minimizing the need for debt?

Roadblock to conquer: The older a church becomes, the more it tends to add ministries, programming, events, and staff. It can be very hard to decrease the church calendar and team. However, not all church staff and activities actually advance the mission equally. The goal of this tool is not to create a list of those who get fired or ministries that get canned. However, I do want to put you in a situation you might never put yourself in to really measure the value of the dollars being invested in both staff and programming.

Church budgets, calendars, and staff can become very inflexible and complicated over time. They can easily become silos or territorial conversations. Sometimes the leader just needs to start over from scratch in your mind, not reality. It provides the clarity needed to start a retooling process that may culminate in a 10 percent resources savings and a 10 percent increase in effectiveness. A savvy use of all your resources produces the potential of a 20 percent exponential surplus.

The end result: Would you rather lead the ministry structure you are currently leading or the one that more resembles what you recreated via this tool? I hope it is leading your current church structure. However, if you need to retool, you now have a pattern of thinking and can start the reshaping. Give yourself three years and you will make great progress.

If this tool has been helpful to you, we have tons more. Check out all of our resources at LifeWayGenerosity.com.

> Read more from Todd.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Todd McMichen

Todd McMichen

Todd serves at the Director of Generosity by LifeWay. His generosity roots arise from leading multiple capital campaigns for local churches that together raised over $35,000,000 for their visionary projects. Since 2000, Todd has been a well-established stewardship coach, generosity leader, author, and conference speaker.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Generosity In Genesis: Four Names to Know

I get so inspired when I think about how the Bible leads with the generosity story right from the very beginning. It doesn’t arrive after the law or when the Temple needs to be built. The Bible just starts with it from the very first family. Here are a few giving heroes that can inspire us today.

  1. Priority Giver-Abel is such a story of pure generosity. It is told so early in the Bible before humanity, society, marketplace, and law really kick into high gear. It’s just what you do as a part of God’s creation. Genesis 4:2-5 states it purely and plainly. Abel humbly offers from the “first” of his labor. Not the second, not something that would be deemed good enough, nor from a measure of reasonableness. He offers what was “first” requiring faith (Hebrews 11:4) and was considered righteous (1 John 3:12). It is a powerful, pure, and simple response to the One who creates, owns, and blesses. The standard should be set.
  2. Imperfect Giver-This is Cain in Genesis 4:6-7. He appears to make an offering willingly of something he owns. However, God clearly had other expectations based off of His instructions. God is gracious and offers a second chance to learn and grow in generosity. Cain obviously takes an alternate route missing out on God’s blessings for himself and his family. What inspires me about Cain is how God led him. God first directs him on how and what to give. Then when he fails, God gives him another chance at it. We all need grace and growth when it comes to generosity. All of us!
  3. Tithing Giver-Abraham is seen as the first tither in Scripture (Genesis 14:20), unless you view the first fruits as a tithe from Abel. The principle of the tithe is a pretty old practice predating the law and temple practices. A disciplined percentage giver doesn’t give because he has to, but because it is the best way to live dependent and blessed. Abraham gave because he had promised to lean only upon God for his success (Genesis 1:23-24). This story repeats a pretty important principle in the Bible related to giving. A generous gift comes following hearing the voice of God clearly. Both Cain and Abraham heard God speak before their giving moment. Leading people to hear God is more important than tithing. God will tell us what He wants us to do. It will always be much more than a tithe.
  4. Trained Giver-Jacob is the case of the apple not falling far from the tree. He is content to go at the speed of his grandfather. The blessings of financial surplus went from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob. Jacob saw the pattern of faith-filled, disciplined, priority, percentage, first fruits giving as the true step forward, so he tithed too (Genesis 28:20-22). The story of family giving is incredible. It begins with Adam and Eve, then moves to Abraham and Jacob. Research tells us that kids raised by generous parents are more likely to be generous as adults. So train up children in the way they should go.

So these are just a few generous people in Genesis. You might want to read the first book of the Bible for yourself and see who else pops up. Several years ago I started highlighting with the color green in my Bible every time I saw a principle or person related to generosity. I was overwhelmed by how many times God gives us amazing gifts and how many giving heroes he has raised up over the centuries.

> Read more from Todd.


 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Resourcing >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Todd McMichen

Todd McMichen

Todd serves at the Director of Generosity by LifeWay. His generosity roots arise from leading multiple capital campaigns for local churches that together raised over $35,000,000 for their visionary projects. Since 2000, Todd has been a well-established stewardship coach, generosity leader, author, and conference speaker.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.