Churches have not been immune to the uncertainties caused by the global social, political and financial upheaval of recent decades that continues as 2011 draws to a close. In their 2010 book, Ministry in Hard Times, long time church consultants Bill Easum and Bill Tenny-Brittain have given church leaders a valuable “field guide to budgeting and ministry’ in these difficult times of shrinking resources and expanding needs and opportunities. One sentence leaps off the page, “How the church responds to this crisis could determine much of what happens to North American Christianity for decades.”
In chapter two, they outline ten rules for doing ministry in the hard times.
Don’t go into debt unless you absolutely have to.
Return to the basics.
Focus on what you do best.
Cut the budget strategically rather than across the board.
Cut office personnel to the bare bones.
Don’t spend anything you don”t think will result in more people in worship.
Strengthen your children’s ministry in a any way you can afford.
Focus on evangelism and market, market, market in any way you can afford.
Focus more attention on adult spiritual formation.
Limit the people making the financial decisions to one or two paid staff people.
This is a book that should be read, discussed and used as a resource for pastors, finance committees, governing boards and others in leadership in a local congregation.
Ministry in Hard Times by Bill Easum and Bill Tenny-Brittain was published by Abingdon. Press in 2010. For more information about Bill Easum, go to http://effectivechurch.com/about-us/bill-easum/