Waaaah! They Don’t Want to Give to the Electricity Bill
Wait. What? Your congregation doesn’t want to give their offering to pay the electrical bill? Really? Because I don’t know about you, but I am so, so thrilled each month I get to pay my bills – the light, water, and most especially the electricity bill. Then again – maybe I’m not as excited as I thought.
I often get asked the question: “What inspires people in the church to pay the heating bill?” And, my response is: Nothing. But, what does inspire me is that paying all those boring utility bills allows for ministry to break out within and beyond the walls of the church.
Your church building is an integral part of your ministry. Stop paying those darn electricity bills and AA groups will have to scramble to find somewhere else to meet. Refuse to pay your water bill and the Moms, Dads, and babies who come for an Indoor Playgroup will be forced to go to McDonalds instead (the horror!). Quit paying your heating bill and hungry families who come to your food pantry will go without dinner.
Here’s one way to highlight a change of perspective to your congregation – design your budget to highlight ministry – not line items. Most non-profits have two budgets: an internal line item budget and an external programmatic (ministry) budget. J. Clif Christopher in Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate says, “Never send out a line-item budget again.” At your church, to be transparent, the line-item budget should be available for anyone who wants to see it. But send your congregation a missional budget that outlines programmatically where funds are going. This means looking at your building and your staff in a new way – staff and buildings are all part of the mission to do great things to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
No more crying about boring bills. Let’s call it for what it is – a celebration for making possible all the ministries that bless our communities.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.