With the current economic situation, everyone is tightening their belts and conserving their funds. And, as you know, giving to charities and churches has declined, too. So how does a church keep the doors open, continue the regular weekly ministries, and still find funds to reach out to the lost?
To be successful, a church has to do more than have a sign on the building and a weekly ad in the newspaper. Direct mail, Web sites, invitation cards and other new church media are effective but require financial resources. Where can a church with a limited budget find the money needed to expand outreach efforts? The answers may surprise you.
1. Individual donations
Within each church are individuals who are better able than others to make significant donations. Whether they are business-owners, executives, retirees, or others, they may have a heart for helping your church grow. Have you asked them about it? If they knew the church was seeking funds to better reach the surrounding community, you may find one or more willing to help underwrite such a project.
One pastor created a special letter asking core members of his church to sponsor a month’s worth of outreach. These special “outreach packages” included direct-mail postcards, banners, and other tools needed to reach the community. By presenting his plans for several months’ worth of outreach to the core group, he gave each of them a vision for it and a special feeling of ownership in the program.
2. Special collections
Many churches hold separate offering collections to support missions, building funds, or other specific needs of the church. Why not hold one for outreach? Is there anything more important than reaching out to the lost and drawing them into a church where they can learn about Christ? For church members, playing an active role in the growth of the church is exciting, and it gives those churches that are more financially limited a tool for making a bigger impact in church growth. Imagine how excited your contributing members will be when the banner they helped finance actually goes up on the street corner!
3. Missions budget
Where does your church spend its mission’s budget? Africa? Asia? Indeed, there is incredible need for missionary work across the globe. But it’s important to remember that the U.S. is one of the largest missionary fields in the world.
Many churches include local outreach in their missions’ budget. Perhaps the seven percent of your neighborhood that is looking for a church home (according to statistics) just needs an invitation from you to find the place that they’re seeking…what a great mission!
4. Ministry fundraisers
Outreach doesn’t need to be done at the church level only; smaller ministry groups can meet the community’s needs and issue the invitations, too! Men’s, women’s, youth, and other ministries within your church may already be engaged in fundraising projects to meet specific needs in the church—maybe camp scholarships, new sound equipment, or even trees for the landscaping. Again, why not for outreach?
Encourage the ministries within your church to raise funds and create an outreach campaign targeting their own demographic group. The members of your high school group may have creative ways to reach their un-churched friends at school, or your over-50 ministry may want to invite other seniors to a special event.
So, once you have found the funds…How do you spend them wisely so you get the most “bang for your buck?” We will look at that in Part 2…