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Moving from Survival to Stability to Sustainability


By NewChurches.com: Have you ever planted a new tree in your yard? The first year you frequently water it to make sure that it takes hold in your yard. The second year you can tell that it’s growing, but maybe you were really hoping it would be bigger and fuller this season? And then, all of a sudden during that third year, it starts blooming. It has beautiful blooms that last for several weeks and then it is a vibrant green throughout the spring and summer. By now the tree has firmly rooted in your yard and continues to grow larger.

This idea reminds me of what it’s like to grow a church that is financially stable. Recently, I chatted with Mark DeYmaz cofounder of the Mosaix Global Network, founding pastor of Mosaic Church in Little Rock, AR, and author of Disruption: Repurposing the Church to Redeem the Community. He and I discussed this very idea of what it means to move from survival to stability to sustainability within church finances.

Survival to Stability

The first stage of church growth is simply moving from surviving every week to having financial stability. For most churches this means the point at which your weekly tithes and offerings cover your budget costs, and the goal is usually to be at this point within two to three years. And while this is an important step in moving to sustainability, it is not the end of smart economics within the church? What do you do when you are ready to add another staff member? Or when it is time to purchase a building?

Stability to Sustainability

The second stage of church growth is when you move from stability to sustainability. At this point your tithes and offerings cover a large portion of your budget (in Mark DeYmaz and Mosaic’s case 68-70%), but the rest of your budget comes from multiple streams of income. Multiple streams of income? What does that look like from a church perspective?

Here are a few practical ideas of ways churches can produce income, helping them move from simply stability to a sustainable church with a long-term plan.

Use your building. There are many people to whom you can rent out space in your building: someone looking for office space, a party planner in need of event space, an after-school-care company, adult education classes in the evenings, a Tae-Kwon-Do or dance teacher in need of a training space.

Community Nights. Hold a festival in your parking lot where you have free activities and some ticketed activities. Invite food trucks and charge them a small fee to participate.

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  • “We have to make disruptive innovations in terms of finance.”-
  • “We had to learn smart economics to survive, become stable, and be sustainable.”-
  • “It’s not necessarily what you can do, it’s a mindset.”-
  • “When pastors think about the church finances they use the word ministry. They are willing to lose money wrapped under the word ministry. How many businesses operate with that mentality?”-
  • “Stop thinking about economics as a ministry, and think about economics as a business would.”-

Additional Resources:

Source: Moving from Survival to Stability to Sustainability