1. Start 2021 with a realistic budget. In this season when finances are uncertain, it is important to readjust spending. Because we are living in uncertain times it could be helpful to develop a budget for the first six months of the year. Everything is so unpredictable right now, so its better to predict for a shorter period. If leadership decides that it’s important to control expenses, one way to determine how much to lower your budget is by the same percentage of people you anticipate will not return to the church. For example, one in five people nationally are not expected to return to church—a 20% decline.
  2. If you haven’t already set up a Yearlong Generosity Plan, 2021 is the year to do it. Have a clear plan to encourage the congregation as a whole and as individuals to grow in the spiritual discipline of generosity. Talk about it consistently. Talk about it with purpose. Talk about it with a sense of hope.
  3. Lowering expenses may be necessary. But you need to pour just as much energy into increasing revenue. Emphasize giving throughout the year. Celebrate new givers. Sometimes, with a hand-written note.  Everyone who is currently giving to your church needs to know they matter. They need to hear you personally say thanks. Include with the thank you regular updates on how their giving is positively impacting the mission.
  4. Now is a great time to evaluate your ministries and programs for effectiveness and trim things that no longer work. Don’t keep programs and ministries you likebut are no longer effective. Go through a season of evaluation right before you go into budget planning and then fund what is working.
  5. If you have assets ($5,000 or more) sitting in a savings account or CDs, consider opening an investment account to grow those assets to fund future ministries.
  6. Members are only giving as their personal finances allow. The finance or stewardship committee can help members move to a healthy lifestyle by offering classes in personal finance, budgeting, and financial management. When we help members get a handle on their finances, giving will inevitably increase. Don’t just ask for 10% This means the church needs to help them manage the 90%. If the church isn’t talking about wise financial principles, who will?
  7. Part of your 2021 financial plan should include working to have a 3-6 month reserve in case giving drops.

For resources in these areas: