From Crisis to Sustainability: Revitalizing Church Finances in 'The Great Dechurching' Era

church sustainability Feb 06, 2024
Revitalizing Church Finances in


As a pastor, you're no doubt aware of the growing financial crisis facing the American church. Historic declines in attendance and giving, combined with double-digit expense increases due to inflation, paint a challenging picture for the church today and into the future.

And if you're honest, concerns about the financial viability of your own church are probably prompting questions about your own financial security, based on how much of your family's livelihood is dependent upon your church salary.

And maybe you're wondering...In the midst of all this uncertainty...

Is there anything pastors can do to revitalize your church's finances and future-proof your own personal income?

I believe the answer to that question is Yes!

And in this episode of The More Than a Pastor Show, we'll explore strategies to help pastors grow your income and secure your financial future - both inside and outside the church.


Links for Today's Show



Quickest Way to Make Money? Provide a Service that Solves a Problem for Somebody

In the last episode, we explored how easy it is for pastors, missionaries, or other ministry leaders turn our skills, experiences, and passions into extra income outside the church. And I shared 6 reasons why providing a service that solves a problem for someone else is the best and quickest way to make money.

You can check out that episode to get all six points, but to sum it up, it's all about:

  1. Identifying problems
  2. Leveraging your skills, experiences, and passions
  3. Creating solutions that people need and would be willing to pay for

The beauty of this strategy is its simplicity.

You don't have to go searching for a big problem somewhere and invest a lot of time and money to create a product or service-based solution for it. You simply identify and provide solutions to problems you already know and are equipped to handle. Then you package your services to meet the market's needs at a price people are willing to pay.

And this brings me to some new ways I'm putting this principle into practice myself!


Problem: The Church is Facing a Financial Crisis

It's been estimated that 25-30% of small businesses in the U.S. were permanently closed because of the lockdowns and related challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019 many of these businesses were holding their own and doing alright. Then in 2020 their entire business model was upended overnight and became increasingly unsustainable until they were forced to close their doors.

I believe the same thing is happening today to the "business model" of the church.


"The Great Dechurching" is Upending the Legacy Church Funding Model

We are living in a season that has been described as "The Great Dechurching" of America.

Millions of people are leaving churches each year, for varying reasons which I've discussed here previously. The attendance loss is so profound that the average church size in America has shrunk by 50% over the last 20 years, from 135-67!

Since attendance has been inextricably linked to income for most churches, it's not a stretch to see how "The Great Dechurching" of America will inevitably lead to "The Great Defunding" of the church.

The math is simple: Declining attendance + declining giving + rising expenses due to inflation = an unsustainable situation for many churches.

Probably even yours.


It's Time for Pastors to Supplement Their Ministry Income

This is why I launched More Than a Pastor. Because I wanted to help pastors, missionaries, and other ministry leaders enjoy the freedom to serve God and provide for their family, no matter what their church's financial situation looks like.

And to me, helping pastors leverage their ministry know-how into their own business or side hustle is one of the best ways to create sustainable income.

More on this in a moment.

While this message is resonating with a growing number of leaders who see the church funding "tide" quickly changing, I recognize that not every pastor feels that creating income outside the church is right for them.

And for those pastors who do want or need to create more income for their family, starting a business isn't right for everyone. Some pastors will be more suited for working a traditional job instead.

Not sure if starting a business is right for you? Get my free PDF assessment guide: "How to Know if Starting a Business is Right for You."

Either way, I believe that every pastor wants to see their church's income grow so they can continue to fulfill the mission God has given them to serve their community and world.


It's Time for Churches to Explore New Giving and Alternative Revenue Strategies

In order to better understand the unique challenges churches are facing in their finances today, I embarked on a little networking journey inspired by Justin Janowski, host of the Faith2Influence podcast.

One day on his show, Justin shared a story about a guy who wanted to grow his business quickly, and he made a list of all the people he knew who might be prospective clients for his business, and a list of people who could be referral partners for him (people who knew people who could be prospective clients.

Then he decided to try a little experiment by reaching out to each person to see if they'd be willing to meet for coffee so he could "pick their brain" about his business. He set a goal to have 100 cups of coffee over the next 100 days.

This experiment was an amazing success, because through these conversations, he was able to gain valuable insights and feedback on his business while also generating new paying clients and referrals. And he's created a client referral system that he can continue to use over and over.


100 Cups of Coffee with Pastors

I was inspired to try this "100 cups of coffee idea" myself, though I didn't care to follow the 100 cups in 100 days timeline. I immediately reached out to 30 pastors I knew in my area (most were connected to my denomination), to see if they'd let me pick their brain on the state of giving and generosity in their churches, the challenges they were facing, where they think the church in America is headed, and the strategies they were using to adapt to the new reality they found themselves in.

I was able to meet with about 20 of these pastors for coffee within two months of reaching out. Most were in person at a coffee shop, but a few were over Zoom. It was such a blessing for me to connect with them, catch up on their lives and families, hear their joys, successes, and struggles in ministry, and explore their questions and dreams for the future.

These pastors serve churches in various contexts. Some are urban, others are rural or small town. Some have been serving their church for 20+ years, and a couple were fairly new in their church.


Two Funding Problems for Churches Today

Throughout these conversations, pastors consistently grappled with two recurring challenges or problems:

  1. How to engage the 30-50% who aren't giving anything to the church, and those who give very sporadically, in a way that doesn't sound "fundraisey" or make them feel guilty for not giving.
  2. How to replace declining offering income with alternative revenue streams, and how to discover the income opportunities that are right for our church?


Solution: Provide Income Growth Strategies for Churches and Pastors

As I've reflected on the funding problems and challenges these pastors shared, the Lord reminded me that he has equipped me with certain skills, knowledge, and experience that are relevant to solving these issues.

And he gave me an expanded vision for More Than a Pastor, to not only help pastors create their own sources of sustainable income outside the church, but also provide solutions to help them create more financial stability for their church.

So I'm putting the lesson from my previous episode into practice and will begin to offer coaching resources  and strategies to help pastors in two key areas:

1. Releasing previously untapped generosity within the congregation and community

This includes helping pastors foster the "grace of giving" that the Apostle Paul talked about in 2 Corinthians 8:7, exploring creative ways to engage non-givers and infrequent givers, inspiring lifestyle generosity across all generations, tapping into the younger generations' cause-driven passions, cultivating non-cash gifts, and more.

2. Leveraging church assets into alternative revenue streams

This includes helping pastors identify the best ways their church could create income streams from their three main assets: Property, programs, and people.


Need Help Revitalizing Your Church's Finances?

Are you feeling the weight of financial concerns for your church right now? Wondering how you could ignite a culture of generosity in your congregation? Feeling like it's time to explore alternative revenue options?

Know that you're not alone! I'm here to support you every step of the way.

In upcoming episodes of the More Than a Pastor Show, we'll dive deeper into these important topics and equip you with stories, tools and insights to help you increase the financial sustainability of your church.

We're also offering individual and group coaching programs to help you unlock the strategies that are right for you and your church, so you can diversify your revenue streams, foster a growing culture of generosity, and navigate today's church funding challenges with confidence.

Don't let financial challenges hinder your ministry's impact or jeopardize your personal livelihood. Take the first step towards financial resilience and sustainability today, and book your free 30-minute strategy session.


Let's Stay in Touch!

Sign up to receive free tips and exclusive offers to help you grow your income and build financial security.

We promise not to share your email with anyone or send you any spam!