Hope in the midst of Financial Trauma …

It is an understatement to say we have all been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.   Some more than others. Due to its prolonged nature, COVID-19 has caused social, emotional, physical, mental and even financial trauma to individuals  and churches alike.

In a recent Christian Magazine survey, 6 out of 10 have seen a decline in giving because of this pandemic.  So how is this reflected in our church? We know of churches that are declining and struggling.  We also know of some that are ‘temporarily’ struggling because of reliance on rental income that is no longer coming in.  But there are some churches that are thriv­­ing in the midst of this. There is no formula solution here!

Denominationally speaking, at the time of writing this article, we are seeing just under a 20% decline in giving to CORE. However, FMCIC has had reasonable reserves in place for ‘such a time as this’.  We are not in crisis mode and with God’s help will weather this storm together.  We are thankful for the provision of reasonable reserves in this season.

We want to express our profound gratitude to those churches who continue to send in their CORE and Giving Streams support during this pandemic. It is because of your continued generosity that we are able to help those churches that are suffering.

That help includes:

  • Church Health Coaches who are available to assist and work with individual churches.
  • Assistance/Guidance in helping churches finding digital giving solutions to accept offerings.
  • Applying on behalf of all our churches that qualify, as employers, for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS 75%) and the Canada Temporary Wage Subsidy (CTWS 10%) programs.
  • Temporarily waiving the Defined Benefit Pension Levy.
  • Temporarily waiving payments for churches with FM mortgages and/or loans.
  • Waiving the tuition for the Personal Church and Stewardship Online Course. Response has been so good the course is full and we have started a waiting list for a September offering – and will waive the tuition for this as well.
  • Adapting a Generosity Leadership Retreat into a 2-session virtual retreat and have waived the cost for this as well.
  • Continuing to monitor and update you on any new programs and services available to churches.

Thank you. This is how we support each another. Just as 2 Corinthians 8:14 says “At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need.”

As we continue to do all we can to support our local churches, we also have to remember the call of the church to care for those struggling in our communities once the pandemic restrictions are lifted.  Like our churches, there are some that will weather the storm, but there are probably more that will experience long-term financial trauma. It is estimated that it will take on average 3-5 years for them to recover to financial health. This is why it is important that your church make a plan for its COVID-19 Recovery Ministry that involves both the corporate church and people.

In his book, ‘Growing Through Disaster’, Rev. Dr. Clayton Smith describes how churches can assist communities and individuals in recovery from this or any other type of disaster.  How do you help people grow with faith over their fear through the love of God? Here are six steps pastors/leaders can take:

  1. Initiate Contact (don’t wait for them to contact you). We know of one of our churches that was declared an ‘Essential Service’ by the mayor because of their initiatives with people!
  2. Focus on what the problem is (ask them how you can help them)
  3. Help people simply cope
    • Help them accept the reality of their loss
    • Help them express their feelings through prayers, laments and telling their stories
    • Meet immediate needs if you are able (benevolent fund, food bank, other?)
  4. Offer Hope
    • Strengthen their faith
    • Share with them scripture stores where things were impossible yet God provided
    • Be aware that helping others helps yourself (help them to help others)
  5. Offer Referrals
    • Find/Provide the resources/assistance that are available
  6. Provide Ongoing Guidance (follow up with them)

As your church prepares your COVID-19 Recovery Ministry Plan, you should make sure you have in place a good benevolent policy.  Your board should prayerfully consider the options.  You can use the CCCC’s Sample Church Benevolence Policy as a guide.  It is posted on the FMC Treasurers Guide at:
https://www.fmcic.ca/treasurersguide/important-financial-policies/benevolence-policy/

Other useful resources your church can use:

  • Financial Hope Small Group material (5 weeks)
  • Financially Fit Seminar (90 min.)
  • Generosity Overflow Retreat and Small Group

These resources are all free for FM churches.  Contact me for details at [email protected]

As with other types of recovery, financial recovery will take time. But it is possible.  And the church can help.


Video: https://vimeo.com/418038768
Book:  Growing Through Disaster: Tools for Financial and Trauma Recovery in Your Faith Community Paperback

You can view Rev. Dr. Calvin’s workshop on ‘Plan Your Church COVID-19 Recovery Ministry Now’ by clicking on the video link above.  There is a link to his book as well.

Pray. Press On.  Be Free to be a Blessing!

 

 

 

 

Sandy Crozier
Generosity & Stewardship