The 2018 proposed budget that will be voted on at the upcoming Annual Conference session uses a flat Shared Ministry formula of 16.3% for all local churches in Greater New Jersey. This proposal, if affirmed, will have several immediate beneficial effects on at both the local and conference level of GNJ:
In 2017, GNJ churches paid an average of 17.2% in Shared Ministry. The 2017 formula was variable and based on the budgets of the local church and the Greater New Jersey Conference. Converting to a flat rate of 16.3% for Shared Ministry provides an immediate financial benefit for 83% of congregations and is a recognition from GNJ leaders that the local church is closest to the mission field and resources must be strengthened there to fulfill the mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ to change lives and transform communities
The 2018 budget proposal also outlines a plan to continue to decrease the flat Shared Ministry percentage for five consecutive years (see inserted plan). The intent of the plan is to reduce the Shared Ministry percentage to 15.6% by 2022 freeing up more resources that will remain at the local church level.
GNJ Strategic Ministry
The proposed five-year budget plan focuses on creating regenerative ministry and mission that raises money through grants and other funding sources. GNJ has a proven track record in making this shift to regenerative ministry. A Future With Hope, which was founded as a response to Superstorm Sandy, has generated more than $17 million in gifts and resources to fund rebuilding efforts. A Future With Hope leaders are building on that success to evolve the organization into developing Hope Centers, leading mission training and becoming the mission arm of the conference. The expectation is that the organization will continue to fund itself through grants and donations. At the same time, salaries, administrative overhead and other expenses associated with Greater New Jersey mission work is being strategically shifted to A Future With Hope easing the budget of the conference and providing a window to reduce Shared Ministry to the local church.
A similar shift is happening with GNJ’s partnership with the United Methodist Stewardship Foundation of Greater New Jersey. By creating shared services with the Stewardship Foundation, the conference is opening an opportunity to fund staff positions, stewardship resources and growth without passing the financial commitment through Shared Ministry to the local church. It is a mutually beneficial relationship. The more resources GNJ local churches invest with Wespath through the Stewardship Foundation, the more resources can be returned to the local church through the work of Greater New Jersey.
A Future With Hope and The United Methodist Stewardship Foundation of Greater New Jersey are regenerative ministries. By aligning and leveraging resources with these vital mission partners, both Greater New Jersey Annual Conference and the local churches receive the benefits. The conference is continuing to build these types of relationships and funding strategies throughout the region so that vital and sustainable ministry can continue to flourish at all levels of the church in the long term.
Another key to the implementation of the five year plan is the continued commitment of the local church to pay 100% of their Shared Ministry. In the last several years, Shared Ministry fulfillments have increased in local churches. In 2016, local churches gave 88% of their Shared Ministry commitment. The five year plan calls for more churches to fulfill 100% of their commitment to Shared Ministry as their Shared Ministry payments decrease. Future decreases in Shared Ministry will depend upon the local church fulfilling its commitment.
The details of the proposed budget and five year plan accompany this article to help all congregations understand the immediate and long term affects.