Church Fundraising During Times of Economic Hardship: A Panel Discussion

Pilgrim Chapel

Ryan Jespersen, Director of Denominational Relations at DBU, recently hosted a virtual panel which addressed the topic of church fundraising during times of economic hardships. The panel comprised of Dr. Bob Dean, Executive Director of the Dallas Baptist Association; Carl Hefton, local businessmen and CEO of RSI; Ryan Hefton, former Vice-president of the Dallas Baptist Association; and Drew Erickson, DBU graduate and lead pastor of Travis Avenue Baptist Church.

The panelists stated that this topic is an important issue to address since 65% of churches in the U.S are not seeing giving at the normal rates they saw before the COVID-19 crisis. The panelists contemplated that some of the reasons for this issue are the virtual church gatherings and the economic pressure happening all over the country.

The panel started by addressing the question of whether churches need to be talking about the issue of giving, as well as providing recommendations of how to address it. The common accord was that yes, churches need to address this topic because giving is a spiritual discipline for Christians.

Pastor Drew Erickson also added, "The New Testament church knew pandemics, they knew disease and persecution. We hear the term 'unprecedented times,' and that is certainly true, but it is not the first time that the church historically has faced very difficult circumstances."

"So, when Paul is advocating these Biblical ideas of stewardship to the early church, he is advocating these things in the circumstance of very difficult circumstances but still admonishing the church to be generous and practice generosity," Erickson continued. "Therefore, the church and pastors should certainly address these topics of giving and generosity, with caution but knowing that it is a discipleship-oriented issue."

Furthermore, Carl Hefton mentioned that during a time of fundraising in the church, the church needs to be transparent and authentic about the budget and standpoint of the church, as well as to celebrate and thank the generosity of the congregation.

Bob Dean expanded on this idea by saying, "As pastors and Christians, we need to set the example about being generous. Another way of preaching on generosity is to have a lay person join and speak about the topic. These persons are not paid by the church, but they do it with joy and can set a good example on this topic. Refrain from making people feel guilty when not being able to give, instead talk about the joy of giving and how one's heart changes when part-taking in this activity."

Ryan Jespersen also asked the panel for a few helpful practices for church leaders on how they have handled fundraising lately.

"This is a time to reevaluate how the church is spending their money. Expenditures should line up to reflect that the church is being the hands and feet of Jesus," Erickson answered.

Further responses were directed towards the thought that transparency and communication of the current economic standpoint of the church are important. The members need to see that the leaders are being good stewards of the resources given to the church and, according to Ryan Hefton, "demonstrate to the body of believers how time and talents are directed towards people and ministry partners that are in need."

Lastly, the panel stressed that church leaders must encourage the congregation to pray about what God would have them do with their resources. It is important for them to ask the question, "How should I be giving to my church?" Also, in addition to online giving, there are non-traditional ways in which churches can leverage non-traditional gifts from their generous givers. "Creating awareness of such ways of giving can also be beneficial to the church," the panel concluded.

As an institution, DBU is on mission to bless churches with resources on how to know different ways to raise the banner of giving. Reach out for further questions and resources on this topic, view the full webinar here.

Written by Kathleen Sotomayor

Kathleen Sotomayor is a member of University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.

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