Church Lifestyle Change Ideas for Generous Saints


Generous Saints: Congregations rethinking Ethics and Moneyfrom the book Generous Saints: Congregations rethinking Ethics and Money, by James Hudnut-Beumler.

  • Buy a smaller building to reduce upkeep and overhead.
     
  • Relocate to a site more in keeping with your mission.
     
  • Use less of your building. Wall off portions that are used poorly but still require heat.
     
  • Share a building with an immigrant or ethnic congregation.
     
  • Develop commercial or not-for-profit space in your building, and let it pay for your fixed costs so that giving can go to missions.
     
  • Invent a new ministry that emerges out of your congregation’s rediscovery of its context.
     
  • Hold a Bible school for adults with the same generosity of spirit you would display towards neighborhood children. This is, don’t do it because you need the members (everyone can spot desperation). Do it because everybody needs the Gospel.
     
  • Revise your definition of what clergy and laity do. Use more laypeople to engage in frontline ministry; use clergy to train the new lay ministers.
     
  • Don’t worry about whether the clients of a hosted ministry will or won’t join your church. Worry instead about whether you are making an adequate witness to your faith through that ministry. Ask yourselves: Are our members who volunteer for the ministry fulfilled?
     
  • Meet for spiritual purposes in small groups in homes without the expectation that clergy will be present. Ministry is too vital to wait for an ordained minister.
     
  • During periods of extreme heat or cold, share services with a neighboring church, both to save on utilities and to witness to your common bonds in Christ.
     
  • Downsize the bureaucracy. Eliminate unnecessary offices and board positions, but increase opportunities for direct, meaningful, and well-supported lay ministry.
     
  • Decrease the number of mailings, but increase their impact. Use less staff produced material and more firsthand accounts from members about their faith and experiences.
     
  • Share the cleaning of the church and grounds to free money for mission; hire more of the cleaning out if you can use members’ time to even better purpose.
     
  • Re-evaluate fundraisers. Are you burnt out as a group? Do fund-raising activities increase your group energy and commitment or sap it? Would you rather do direct service? What do your publicly visible activities tell your neighbors about the God you worship?
     
  • During the summer, when air-conditioning is not needed for health reasons, bring out the fans, turn down the lights, and donate the difference to a need that really matters. Say it out loud – we’d rather give that money away to our friends in Haiti!
     
  • Stop reinventing the wheel. When someone suggests reorganizing the church committee structure, ask first whether you are going to do something different or just do the same things differently as a result of your efforts.
     
  • Carry out activities in parallel small groups. For example, try Bible reading. Every member of the congregation is spending three months reading Paul’s letter to the Romans, but each is doing this in a small group.
     
  • Worship outside your walls once in a while to remind yourselves that a religious organization is a people and not a building.
     
  • Rediscover the significance of community by talking to neighbors outside the church. Talk about what you learn. Let your consciences guide your next moves.