Raising financial support for your church will look different—really soon.
Let me explain.
In recent years, one significant shift has been taking place that will negatively influence your church:
People tend to be less engaged in local churches.
Study after study has revealed a general decline in worship attendance across the United States. Now, this trend may not be influencing your church today, but there’s one more thing you need to know.
When it comes to younger generations (Gen Z and Millennials), their view of participating in local churches differ from older generations in one big way: They tend to be less engaged.
What does this have to do with raising financial support?
Well, it’s a simple equation.
Fewer people attending your church means there will be fewer people available to donate.
Your church may already feel the impact of this change, or it may be years until you experience the full brunt of this shift. In either scenario, you need to start preparing for this change now.
In this post, I’m going to share with you three ways you can leverage what you already have to create multiple streams of income.
#1 – Leverage your church’s property
Does your church own property?
If so, you may be sitting on several streams of income.
Think about it.
Depending on the size of your property and how you use it, there are at least three ways you can leverage it to generate income. You may be able to lease your facility (or a part of it) for:
1. Business space
2. Coworking space
Do you have enough space in your church building to lease it to a business? This is what Mosaic Church does. Mosaic Church had enough unused space on their property to rent to a fitness club to the tune of $8,000 per month.
With the extra income they earn from this lease, Mosaic Church can cover the entirety of their monthly mortgage.
And although this wasn’t mentioned by their church leaders, I imagine this stream of income provides a tremendous amount of peace because they know their monthly mortgage is paid.
Your church may not have enough free space to spare several thousand square feet. But do you have unused office space or a wing of your building you can lease as offices? Can you convert some of your building into a workshop for a local artisan? Is your church building in an ideal location to provide space for a coffee shop or retail store? These few questions will help you to think through the possibilities.
On a similar note, your church may be able to tap into the growing popularity of coworking spaces. For example, Bethesda United Methodist Church runs Haw Creek Commons—a coworking space—out of their church facility.
For this to work, you can rent out a handful of offices or use an entire section of your church building to provide coworking space.
Finally, a third option you can consider is hosting events.
If you think about it, there’s a good chance your church building is ideal for hosting live or virtual events. From providing a stage to seating to a foyer, you can quickly adapt your facility into a perfect event location.
From concerts and theater to seminars and ceremonies, there are countless ways you can transform your facility into an ideal event venue for your community.
#2 – Open a bookstore
There’s one thing many Christians have in common:
They like to read books.
Christianity is a religion of the Word.
An essential tenet of our faith is that we believe God revealed himself through the Bible. This belief not only compels us to read the Bible. It also leads us to read books.
Despite the general decline of people purchasing books over the years, according to Forbes, the revenue of religious publishing companies increased by 14.7% in 2019.
So what’s the point?
There’s a good chance your church could benefit from starting a bookstore.
Before making a decision on this, here are five things to keep in mind:
3. Pace yourself
Is your church prepared to have a bookstore?
One of the most significant factors influencing the answer to this question is your weekly attendance. For example, if your church has an average weekly attendance of 75, then you may not have enough people present to make a bookstore a viable stream of income. However, if your church welcomes a few hundred people or more every week, then you may be able to sell enough books to produce a decent stream of income.
If you believe your church is prepared to provide a bookstore, then you’ll need to consider the store’s placement. For instance, you don’t want to place your bookstore in the janitor’s closet or away from the flow of people coming and going. Be sure to place your bookstore in view of people attending your worship services.
Pace yourself in launching your bookstore. Instead of purchasing thousands of dollars worth of products, consider purchasing a few hundred dollars worth of material. This way, if you run into a problem selling products, you will only incur a small financial setback.
How will you sell your books?
When you make your books available, be sure to have your payment information nailed down. There are many payment options you can provide: From using a Square Reader to providing a box people can drop cash or a check into, to asking people to make a payment via PayPal.
Finally, don’t forget to promote your bookstore.
Naturally, your preaching pastor will mention books during his or her sermon. If possible, identify what books or resources your pastor will highlight during their sermon or sermon series. This way, you can include those books in your bookstore.
If you’re just getting started, here’s a book table idea from All Souls in Seattle, WA:
Now, if you’re in a position to create a larger retail storefront, here’s an example from Crossings Community Church:
#3 – Gain interest on your savings
When it comes to your church’s finances, it’s a good idea to save money for a rainy day. If your church has faithfully saved money over the years, have you accumulated a decent nest egg?
Depending on your church’s financial situation, you can leverage your savings to create an additional stream of income. I’m not suggesting you invest in the stock market or pursue risky investments. Instead, consider placing a portion of your church’s savings or checking account money into interest-bearing accounts.
Several factors will influence this decision. Instead of giving you general advice here, I suggest you consult your church’s leadership and financial advisor to ensure your church is leveraging the money you have well.
Over to you
No matter your situation, is important you and your church leadership think through options for expanding your streams of income. That way, your church will be better prepared to handle any ups and downs in giving that may occur now or in the future.