By Bill Easum

2008 was a very bad year for the majority of people around the world.  Savings and pensions cut in half. Jobs lost. And a world-wide lack of confidence in governments. From everything I see 2009 will be worse.  We haven’t yet seen the end of layoffs, bailouts, rising unemployment – I could go on but its too depressing.

Charities are one of the first organizations that find their revenue drying up as a result of major downturns in the economy. Toward the top of the list of places where people can cut spending is the church. All across the U.S. church offerings are down. Churches are cutting their budgets; laying off staff; and hunkering down for a long winters nap.

There’s only one problem with this scenario. Now is not the time to be hunkering down, slashing budgets.  NOW’S THE TIME TO GET STRATEGIC WITH WHAT MONEY YOU DO HAVE!  Don’t wait till you have to start cutting your budget. Even in good times the issue is seldom how much money you have but how strategically you spend the money you do have. If you learn how to spend strategically you will actually achieve more with less!!

So, what does it mean to be strategic in the way a church spends its money?

First, it means you have to decide what the overall mission of your church is. If your church has a biblical foundation then your mission has to have something to do with transforming the people and community around the church. Jesus made this very clear when he said, “Go make disciples of all people groups.”

Second, evaluate every dollar you’re spending by asking one simple question – will it make disciples? If not, then cancel it for now. I’m talking about ministries and personnel.  If the ministry or personnel are not contributing to the growth of the church, cancel it or them. Lay off almost all office personnel.

Doesn’t matter what it is, during hard times, hard decisions have to be made. When good times return you can reinstate those dollars.

Third, redirect all of the cancelled money into the following areas based on the following order of importance:

  1. Worship. If you don’t have a full time worship leader find one. Worship is your bread and butter and your future.
  2. Evangelism and advertizing.  All you have to do to see the wisdom in this is to what big business. When hard times come they reach out all the more. Your church is more important to the world than any big business, so reach out.
  3. Continuing Education. Hard times require wise decisions and wise decisions require wise people. So make sure your personnel are adequately equipped to lead in hard times. One of the things your people are going to need the most is help in how to reach out by word of mouth. Helping your people learn how to share their faith with their networks is one of the most important continuing education you can offer in hard times. That’s one of the reasons we’re putting together the Hitchhikers Guide to Evangelism tour for 2009.

Finally, I hope you will act on this advice soon and not wait till you have to. Waiting till you have to cut the budget to survive means you won’t have any money you can redirect into ministries that will help you make it through the hard times that are coming.