As a pastor, you have a lot of responsibility, including sermon preparation, funerals, marriage counseling and leadership—not to mention the financial management and security of the congregation. Although it probably isn’t the highest profile part of your job, keeping a church financially healthy is no easy task. It’s possible that to this end, you’ve avoided taking on debt, except as an absolute last resort.
However, refraining from all debt sometimes means waiting years or even decades before implementing ideas or expanding your congregation’s reach. There are people in your community desperate for God’s love and Christian community. Yet, most of them will not come to you. They are not going to ask why you haven’t taken action on your outreach ideas. It’s possible you may be in a situation where financing your new ministry space is not only financially responsible, but the best way to optimize your operations.
Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) has many options available for LCMS organizations, with an experienced staff eager to guide you through financing, to help your ministry thrive.
Here are some signs it may be time to consider financing for your ministry:
- If lack of financing is the major barrier to operating or expanding your ministry.
If you have the ability to serve others and bring them the love of Christ in meaningful or tangible ways, ask yourself if you can afford to wait. If you have the capacity, people, know-how, and passion—but not the money—it might be time to learn about your lending options. “If financing that allows a ministry to move forward today brings just one new soul to Christ, then in my mind, that’s interest well spent,” said LCEF Vice President – Missouri District Casey Carlson.
- If there is a unified and long-term vision for the project.
This is a sign that your leadership has truly thought through the project you’re undertaking. A plan and a vision mean that people have considered the work from many angles and come up with best solutions to achieve it. You know who you want to reach and what will matter to them. “LCEF’s ministry clarity can assist congregations and leadership in being confident in the path and purpose God as lain before a congregation and her people,” said Carlson. Learn more at org/support/congregations/ministry-clarity/.
- If you’ve crunched the numbers and you can comfortably make payments.
Of course, every situation and congregation will be different. However, LCEF has recommended that debts not exceed approximately a third of annual contributions. Another rule of thumb is to aim for an average of debt between $4,000-$5,000 per communicate member in attendance on an average Sunday. “Keep in mind that other factors will influence what makes sense for your congregation,” recommends Carlson. “The earlier you can bring LCEF alongside the project, the bigger impact they can have in providing valuable assistance along the way.”
- You have members willing to contribute to a campaign to reduce the scope of required financing.
If you have a congregation that’s willing to put skin in the game, it’s a sign people are dedicated to helping this project come to fruition. In addition to decreasing the scope of your financing, this shows you that your congregation and donors will support new ministry through volunteering, promoting and otherwise meeting its needs. “Campaigns are much more than just about the dollar, they are about expanding ministry and the future God has planned for your congregation. Considering a campaign or don’t know where to start, LCEF can provide advice and guidance for your leaders” said Carlson. Learn more at https://lcef.org/support/congregations/campaigns/
LCEF is here to offer advice and guidance as you seek to find the best options for your ministries. Contact Casey Carlson to learn how your Missouri District ministries can benefit from this vibrant resource by emailing him at email@example.com or calling (314) 590-6207.