Everyone seems to be talking about inflation. Turn on the news—they’re talking about inflation. Listen to a podcast—they’re talking about inflation. Check your social media accounts—they’re talking about inflation. Check out the most recent SecureGive article—it’s about inflation.
Why is everyone talking about the rise in prices? Because it impacts everyone. Everyone feels the effects of the rising costs of goods and services. The standard of living to which people were accustomed is increasingly more difficult to obtain. It can be a jarring experience. You feel it. Your congregants feel it. And your church staff feels it.
So, while your staff can hear about inflation’s impact from the news, podcasts, social media, and yes, SecureGive, it is important they hear about inflation’s impact from their church leaders as well. They need to understand what inflation means for the church they serve and how to prepare for it. Here are a few suggestions.
1. Communicate how inflation impacts generosity.
Ideally, those who give proportionally would continue to give at the same level. However, inflation stretches household budgets, which can cause many to feel significant financial strain. Those who gave larger percentages of their income to the church may feel the need to pull back their percentage. The one-time, spontaneous gifts may not be as frequent. Without question, church leaders should trust God for their financial provision. He can and will provide the church whatever He desires. But just like Joseph wisely prepared for the famine, it is also wise to prepare for the potential impact inflation can have on generosity. So, communicate how inflation impacts generosity to the staff.
But just like Joseph wisely prepared for the famine, it is also wise to prepare for the potential impact inflation can have on generosity.
2. Communicate how inflation impacts church expenses.
Most people understand the impact inflation can have on a household budget. This includes your staff. They are reminded of the impact every time they view the grocery bill. But while people regularly recognize inflation’s impact on the household, they aren’t always aware of inflation’s impact on organizations like the church. Inflation doesn’t just make groceries more expensive. It can make curriculum more expensive. It can make technology more expensive. It can make service providers more expensive. So, communicate how inflation impacts church expenses to the staff.
3. Ask them to prioritize ministry expenses.
Because inflation does not just impact personal budgets but church budgets, encourage staff members to consider their ministry’s financial priorities. Prioritizing expenses is a good practice regardless. However, during inflationary times, it becomes even more important. Have them prayerfully consider the ministry priorities and the expenses tied to those priorities. Then, have them make financial contingency plans, assuming they are unable to cover 5% to 10% of anticipated expenses. Hopefully, such a scenario does not become reality, but should it happen, they will be ready. So, ask the staff to prioritize their ministry expenses.
Prioritizing expenses is a good practice regardless. However, during inflationary times, it becomes even more important.
4. Encourage staff members to remain flexible.
There is no way to definitively predict how inflation is going to impact a specific church. For some churches, the impact may be significant. For other churches, the impact may be minimal. For this reason, staff members need to remain flexible. Maintaining a flexible mindset will help them make pivots with their ministry should it become necessary. So, encourage staff members to remain flexible.
5. Ask staff members to consider the congregants’ financial strain when putting together events that require some type of payment.
Like the staff, the congregant’s personal financial margin doesn’t just feel tighter, in most cases, it is actually tighter. Therefore, the congregants may be less willing to spend the same amount of money they spent in prior years on camps, trips, or other church events. If payment is required to participate in a particular event, it may be wise to consider reducing its costs and reducing the needed payment. A lower payment may result in maintaining, or even increasing, the participation numbers from prior years. Of course, if there isn’t a way to reduce costs, anticipated participation numbers may need adjusting. So, ask the staff members to consider the congregants’ financial strain when putting together events that require some type of payment.
6. Consider paying for meetings with a financial counselor.
A financial counselor is someone who helps people create a budget, save for future expenses, pay off debt, and provide guidance relating to other important financial decisions. Asking a financial counselor to either meet with the staff as a group or offering to cover a few individual sessions for staff members could be significantly beneficial. For many staff members, the stress felt by inflation can be reduced by developing a financial plan, like a budget. A budget can make staff members feel more in control of their finances during seemingly chaotic times. So, consider paying for meetings with a financial counselor.
7. Ask them to pray.
As already mentioned, God can and will provide whatever He desires for the church. God is not limited by inflation. He owns all the resources. As Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (NIV).
God’s mission for the church is not limited by finances. So, have your staff pray in confidence for God to provide the financial needs He deems necessary to fulfill the church’s mission. Pray that whether there is much or little in the church’s bank account, God’s mission will go forth and that He will be glorified. Also, have the church staff pray for the congregation. Pray that they will continue to trust in God’s promises and provisions during financially tight times. Pray this will be a moment in time when they lean more into God, and not a time when they look to the world for answers. Pray that financial uncertainty will draw them to a God who is certain.
Pray this will be a moment in time when they lean more into God, and not a time when they look to the world for answers.
Inflation will impact the church. As church leaders, you can help the church staff prepare for its potential impact. You can encourage them to make wise budgetary decisions, remain flexible, and pray. Remind them that even during uncertain times, we serve a God who is certain. His mission will continue.