6 Things to Consider When You Have to Cut Back

Handling Budget Shortfalls Wisely

In today’s difficult economy, many are reducing expenses. While we all hate to be set back in any way, there are both wise and unwise ways to do this. Here are some thoughts that may be worthy of your consideration:

1. Consider the Biblical Priorities

Why is it that some churches stop paying their missionaries before anything else? Isn’t our main purpose to spread the Gospel around the world? How fair is it to cut the support of a missionary ten thousand miles from home who has no means of replacing it when we have not asked those living in far more comfort and luxury to make a similar sacrifice?

2. Find Less Expensive Ways to Accomplish the Same Goals

Though it might not work every time, on occasions we have had a spring or fall Sunday school campaign on which we have spent little or no money. On one occasion we had an “I Love Jesus” campaign. One week, we asked everybody to invite ten people because they loved Jesus. On another we asked them to knock on a certain number of doors because they loved Jesus. On still another we asked them to commit to have a certain number of visitors because they loved Jesus. While I am all for honoring the effort of people by giving some reasonable incentive or reward, I think sometimes we can appeal to their better nature, save the Lord’s money, and still reach extra folks with the Gospel.

3. Keep the Most Productive Things in the Budget

I consider our church bulletin to be an effective means of communication. It keeps the members connected with the ministries and helps new people see who we are and what we are doing, but I would cut bulletins before I would stop printing tracts. I would sing old choir songs and not spend money on new music before I would cut back on our bus ministry. I would schedule fewer games for our ball teams, travel shorter distances and purchase fewer uniforms before I would cut back on our regular soulwinning ministries.

4. Ask for Better Deals from Current Suppliers

Many people are cutting their prices. If you are a good and steady customer you should have the right to expect the most favorable treatment those with whom you do business can extend without jeopardizing their business. We have found that in matters such as insurance it is unfortunately necessary to shop around every few years. Many companies tend to “buy the business” by coming in with a low rate which they then gradually raise until they are more expensive than the ones who originally insured you.

5. Demonstrate Good Stewardship before Asking People to Increase Their Giving

It may be necessary to have special offerings such as “Give It All Sundays” or other sacrificial offerings. We must be sure, however, that our people know that we have saved money in every legitimate way possible before we ask them to sacrifice.

6. If You Must Cut Salaries, Cut Yours First

I have the privilege of serving on the board of a national ministry which, while still doing tremendous work for God, has had to make some painful budget cuts recently. The leader of this ministry, without telling anyone, first put himself on half-salary, then stopped taking any salary and lived off whatever offerings he received, and then began taking some of those offerings and giving them back to the ministry. All this was done well before he laid off anyone else, asked anyone else to take a pay cut, or made any other salary adjustments.

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