Today we continue our discussion of the importance of long-range planning by looking at two other areas where churches need to be taking soundings, to see if storm clouds are on the horizon.
Ignoring long-range giving opportunities
At the present time, our society is going through the greatest asset transfer in world history. Many of the baby-boomers, who have lived through the most prosperous eras of our nation’s history, are reaching retirement age. With ever increasing amounts of disposable income many are also looking for worthy charities to share their abundance with.
Many pastors are surprised when they read in the newspaper or online that one of their members has given a substantial endowment gift to the local university or hospital. Some pastors screw up the courage to ask why the church was not the beneficiary only to hear the following comment. “You never asked.”
Whether churches like it or not, they live in a competitive arena. Various organizations within the nonprofit sector are vying for a limited amount of donor dollars. Churches also need to realize that secular charities are asking their members for significant gifts. Maybe the churches should too…
When it comes to fund-raising, few churches look past current budget needs or an occasional building campaign. Very few venture into the planned giving arena. Perhaps it is time to begin.
Failure to address demographic change in the church’s mission field
In the last few decades, immigration has drastically changed the demographic makeup of our nation. In the course this major shift, neighborhoods have taken on a new look and culture. Unfortunately, many churches failed to adapt to their surroundings, and as a result, have seen a dramatic decline in membership. In fact, many have ceased to exist.
Because most of these churches are in older parts of most cities and towns many church leaders in the growing areas feel somewhat immune to this situation. I think this is a false sense of security. I am getting old enough now to have seen quite a bit in my career providing services to churches. One thing I have noticed is that churches do indeed have a cycle they follow. Eventually, the new becomes old and almost all churches must re-evaluate their situations. It is essential, to be an effective ministry present, each church must evaluate its calling. One way to do that is to have a firm understanding of its surrounding neighborhoods. By paying timely attention to these matters, churches can adapt their efforts and provide ministry to their new neighbors.