“What’s next for mission?”
This is a familiar question to members at Faith Community CRC in Beaver Dam, WI. Since they began as a church plant in 1961, they’ve always found meaningful and creative ways to connect to their community in mission.
More recently, however, answering this question required the church to decide whether their next call to a pastor would be for either a full-time or part-time position. “We were right on the edge of being able to afford having a full-time pastor,” recalls Bruce McMurry, an elder in the church.
Leaders found their solution in the Financial Shalom Project, a ministry of the Christian Reformed denomination done in partnership with Barnabas Foundation. This project seeks to alleviate key financial challenges facing CRC pastors by offering assistance for immediate financial needs, as well as long-term support for personal financial management and growing generosity within their congregation.
With help from the Financial Shalom Project, Faith Community CRC made a decision to call a full-time pastor. Over the course of 22 months, the church receives a declining salary supplement from Financial Shalom, slowly taking back responsibility for paying their pastor’s annual salary in full.
Keeping the big picture in mind, the church also formed a stewardship team to promote giving and increase financial literacy among church members. Training videos and coaching from Barnabas Foundation provided new strategies for connecting giving to church vision and mission.
“People are much more willing to give to a goal or specific purpose, not just in general,” remarks Bruce.
Barnabas Foundation also provided a customized Church Stewardship Survey to gather feedback for leaders on a range of issues, from how members view the impact of their giving to how frequently they give to their church and to other ministries.
Elevating this value of generous giving is already making a difference. “I can think of one young woman, in particular,” says Bruce “who changed how she was living and started giving to the church on a regular basis.”
Next steps for mission are being taken as members implement new chapters in church ministry. The difference now, though, is that answering “What’s next for mission?” will always be tied to the work of growing generous givers.
“It’s part of building maturity in people,” says Bruce. “If you’re really trying to help people get their feet on the ground for the Lord, finances are part of that.”