Many churches and ministries struggle to make ends meet. I know what it’s like for a ministry that lacks resources to pay the bills. And I’ve worked for a church as a full-time, unpaid staff member. Over the years I’ve spent time in prayer and in the Bible trying to understand how to live in this situation and how to pray. While I have no easy answers for you (Jesus never said it would be easy to follow Him), I do know that whatever we do must begin by focusing on the Holy Spirit and our relationship with God. I offer these suggestions with all humility and prayer, in the hope maybe one or more of these ideas will help you.
If your church or ministry isn’t making ends meet, prayerfully consider a few steps you can take to place the situation in God’s hands:
(1) Tithe. Be sure you and your family are tithing. Help your congregation understand tithing by inviting someone (with a biblical understanding and strong testimony of tithing) to teach a class for your congregation.
(2) Repent for any ungodly ways or practices in your church. When doors have been opened to the enemy, that is a sure way to block God’s blessings. As a leader of your church, start the repentance with yourself and invite your church leadership and congregation to join you. Then extend this repentance to the history of your church – repent corporately and restitutionally for all ungodly ways that have characterized your church’s history. Ask God to show you where you need to repent.
(3) Consecrate the land. Through prayer (and through a knowledge of local history) you may discover that curses from ungodly practices have passed through your church’s land. It is a wonderful blessing for your community when a church offers a land consecration to God. Here is an article written by a friend and minister that will help you learn more about land consecration: Dedicating Your Home and Land to God by Kerri Johnson.
(4) Be sure your volunteer business leaders operate by spiritual principles. I’ve seen churches focus on the secular experience of business leaders to keep things running. Unfortunately, very few secular businesses are run on spiritual principles. Common strategies from the business world often don’t translate well to the church. Be sure your business advisors live every aspect of their lives by the leading of the Holy Spirit. If following the Holy Spirit in church business decisions is new to your advisors, that’s okay. Find people in your church who demonstrate maturity in living by the Holy Spirit. Invite and encourage your business advisors to work together in unity with those individuals. In this way, your business advisors can learn and grow, as they live and move and have their being in the Holy Spirit. God has blessed your church with business people not only to benefit the church, but also to grow those persons spiritually. They can take that spiritual lifestyle back into their homes, businesses, and the community. Doesn’t that sound like God?
(5) Open all business-related meetings with prayer and invite the Holy Spirit to lead you. Stop and pray throughout your meetings as you address and discuss challenges. Seek God together right there in your meetings for answers to difficult questions. Be open to what God wants to reveal to you about how to lead the business aspects of your church. Allow the intercessors in your church to pray over your leaders and your meetings on a regular basis. Listen to what God shows them and take that revelation prayerfully into consideration.
(6) Pray and fast together with leadership to seek God’s best plan for your church’s provision. Then listen and share what God shows each of you. Often He will give each one a piece of the puzzle. Bring those puzzle pieces together and see the unified vision that emerges. Unity commands a blessing. If no unity, don’t proceed.
(7) Invite personal testimonies from your church members of the fruit of tithing in their lives. Share these testimonies publicly, including in the church newsletter and on the giving page of your website. The testimonies lift the focus off the practical and place the glory on God. That is the way to plant seeds that will lead to good fruit.
(8) Place your focus on people, not on money. If you focus on what’s important to God, i.e., people, He is going to give you what you need. Be sure your church nurtures a culture of giving to the community and to your own families, for the sake of all that God wants to do in the lives of people. As you pour out, God will refill you.
(9) Do not open the door to fear. There is a big difference between operating in financial wisdom and operating in fear. You can tell by the spirit in which you make decisions and explain things to the congregation. Consider gathering a group of spiritually well-balanced individuals whose fruit of a mature spiritual life is evident. Ask them to test the temperature of your church’s messaging and practices with regard to finances. They will be able to discern whether or not your practices are fear-based. Remember that faith cannot occupy the same space as fear.
(10) Continue to seek God for what your church is and is not called to do. Givers may experience lack because they give in areas where God did not call them. Be discerning to spend and invest specifically where God calls you to do so. Is another church in your community already doing something really well (like homeless ministry, addiction ministry, children’s after school care, etc.)? Consider sending people to their community ministry rather than spreading yourself too thin. Praying about starting a new program in the community that exceeds your budget? How about gathering several churches with the same vision and working together in unity? It takes the whole body of Christ to cover a community.
(11) Expect God to provide. If you don’t expect His provision, then change your expectations. Do some heart searching here and be honest with yourself. What do you really expect? When you are entrenched in expectations that are fueled by ungodly motivations, you can end up blocking the resources God wants to give you. The provision of God’s kingdom is not a zero-sum game. Too often churches are tempted to hold back where they should give, or to give out of desperation where they are not called to give. These are reactions led by flesh, not by the Spirit. Often these reactions come from expectations that do not line up with God’s nature and His Word. God gives good gifts to His kids. All good things come from God. If your expectations for church finances are not in line with His truth, then change your expectations. And be sure your church’s corporate practices are not harboring hidden ungodly expectations that have become part of “the way things are.”
(12) Praise God, show gratitude, and share your testimonies. Ask God to open your eyes and heart to the many ways He is already providing for your church. This may look different than your usual measurements. Respond to Him in gratitude even when you think you don’t see signs of His provision. Because He is providing for you. You just may have to realign your heart with what He is doing in your midst. Praise Him publicly and be grateful. Share the testimonies boldly and humbly as you recognize the fruit of what God is doing to grow the resources of your church. Recognize that often your resources come through the people He sends to you, and in ways you might not expect. Keep an open heart and be grateful.
Stay encouraged, pray and seek God’s best, and truly submit every aspect of your church’s business functions to the leading of the Holy Spirit.