Seeing Church Problems, Looking for Church Solutions


“…you have an inner-city church with inner-city problems; might I suggest you quickly wise up and find an inner-city solution…”
(Archdeacon Robert, from the BBC TV Sitcom ‘Rev.’)

The BBC show “Rev.” is familiar to some, but may be new to many on this side of the pond. The show centers on the life of Rev. Adam Smallbone, the Anglican vicar (pastor) of a church located in downtown London. In the clip below, Rev. Adam is providing ideas to Archdeacon Robert (Rev. Adam’s District Superintendent-equivalent) about ways to pay for a window in the church that has been broken.

Like Rev. Adam, many pastors are faced with very real financial challenges, and it can be easy to assign them a label.  You may have a ‘rural’ church with ‘rural’ church problems or a ‘dying’ church with ‘dying’ church problems or an ‘apathetic’ church with ‘apathetic’ church problems. While these labels provide helpful context for what a pastor faces, they  typically serve as a reference point, not as an absolute descriptor of the challenges faced.

Regardless of how the issues are named, the solutions tend to require creativity, because pastors are finding it increasingly difficult to secure streams of revenue to sustain the churches they serve.  In addition to church yard sales, food sales or car washes, some churches now rent out their facilities to other churches or nonprofit organizations. Other churches have joined with neighboring congregations to sell popcorn, fruit baskets or Christmas wreaths. Still other churches pool resources to offer financial education programs such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University or Crown Financial. The rationale for focusing on family finances?  As the cash flow of members begins to stabilize and improve, so should the finances of the church.

How has your church creatively raised funds? Please share your ideas in the comments section!

May God bless our Church Universal and our pastors who continue to navigate their way through the stressors of church stewardship. May God provide them with the wisdom, strength and vision to keep serving our [insert label here] churches with their [insert label here] problems, while looking for [insert label here] solutions.

– Angela M. MacDonald

(Video clip courtesy of BBC TV, Episode 1; Season 2 ‘Inner City Church, Inner City Problems’)

This entry was posted in Financial Health and tagged , , by Angela M. MacDonald. Bookmark the permalink.

About Angela M. MacDonald

Angela is a Wellness Advocate for the Clergy Health Initiative. Angela earned an MDiv/MSW; a joint graduate degree program sponsored by Duke Divinity School and the UNC School of Social Work. Angela is also an ordained Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Angela’s past experiences includes parish ministry, crisis intervention counseling and legal technology consulting. Angela enjoys reading, international travel and "I love lamp".

2 thoughts on “Seeing Church Problems, Looking for Church Solutions

  1. Hey Angela:
    I found your article by searching ” finances” on this web-site. I am interested in how the clergy health inicitive is addressing finances as an aspect of clergy wellness? As a senior at DDS pursuing deacon’s orders in the UMC, I am passionate about the “peace that passes all understanding” available to the faithful when personal finance is approached as a spiritual discipline. I am surrounded by fellow students who are graduating from divinity school with huge debt, heading into pastoral positions that will not pay them enough to pay off their debt any time soon. I hear it as a personal stress, but one that is not being discussed for a variety of reasons. How does this program offer the much needed help in this area of discipleship?

  2. Hey Lynn —

    you raise some excellent points in your comment. Clergy health is aware of finances as a very common stressor for pastors. I imagine this is especially difficult when student debt seems to provide somewhat of a contrast with John Wesley’s philosophy to “Gain all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.” While CHI does not provide financial assistance directly, pastors have us wellness advocates available to assist in research for this assistance. We can assist with locating tools and resources around being able to manage or relieve stress, thereby clearing the way to actually face financial troubles instead of avoiding them, which we’re all prone to do.

    Further, every pastor is eligible for a $500 grant that they are able to use at their discretion, as long as it contributes to the improvement of their personal wellness. That wellness can possibly include using the grant for financial management/planning/budgeting. However, I’ve also noticed that some of the best information about debt/financial management has been through conversations with and guidance from their fellow peers in ministry.

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