A 'strong' church of just 'fat'?
May 18 2001 by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer

A 'strong' church or just 'fat'? | Friday, May 18, 2001

Friday, May 18, 2001

A 'strong' church or just 'fat'?

By Jim Royston BSC Executive Director-treasurer We were treated during our regular May staff meeting at the Baptist Building to a presentation on church giving by nationally-known stewardship experts, John and Sylvia Ronsvalle. The Ronsvalles, who have for several decades studied trends in church giving and mission support, shared some exciting, challenging and even depressing information about where we (your church and denomination) may be headed stewardship-wise in the decade to come. Besides reminding us of our misplaced priorities in America - we spend annually $58 billion on soft drinks and $30 billion on cosmetics, while all U.S. churches together give around $2.9 billion to overseas missions - the Ronsvalles shared some interesting descriptions of churches and denominational agencies in America. One description talked about the "strong" vs. the "fat" church.

Strong churches may be large or small, rich or poor, in cities or rural areas, and come with all (or no) denominational labels attached to them. Strong churches, in the Ronsvalle's description, are churches committed to sharing most of their resources beyond themselves. They described it this way: What is your church's "finish line"? Each year determine the minimum amount of money you need to operate your church - costs like salaries, mortgage payments, utilities, purchase of resources and materials, etc. Inflation will cause that amount to rise slightly each year. Every church should pledge that amount with little or no effort.

Everything beyond that should go for ministries and missions. Who are the fat churches? Fat churches, according to the Ronsvalles, are simply churches with more money in the operating budget than they need to operate the church. Fat churches strive to have large "rainy day" funds. Fat churches spend most of what they collect on themselves.

The same analogy would apply to fat associations, fat state conventions and fat national conventions.

One of our staff members in the meeting told a story about a group of billionaires who met to talk about the best ways to give their money to worthy causes. Church was never mentioned as an organization to be considered for their support. In fact, one participant in the billionaires' group stated that they would not give money to their church because the church would just spend it on themselves.

Stewardship is an integrity issue. Stewardship is about priorities. It's not how much you collected last year but where and how did you spend the money you did collect.

We take very seriously the money churches have entrusted with us to support missions and ministries. We have set a goal of $50 million for the Cooperative Program by 2006, up from the current $35.75 million this year or about a seven percent increase for each of the next five years. Our priorities of missions and evangelism will be reflected in these budgets.

We want to be an even stronger (not a fatter) state convention.

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5/18/2001 12:00:00 AM by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer | with 0 comments
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