Over recent years, United Methodist churches have faced increasing challenges of substantial attendee decline, as well as a growth in congregational age. Based on this growing trend, church leaders are consistently finding a need to make decisions relating to the choice of business strategies. In other words, leadership must decide such scenarios as refinance existing mortgages for better interest rates and cash flows; feasibility to build new buildings and infrastructures; add new ministries; employ new staff or downsize existing employees and many other financial decisions.
The decline in number of congregations and the rising age of many attendees have left a challenging question regarding the sustainability of United Methodist churches. If this trend continues, will United Methodist churches be able to survive? Many church leaders have turned to a business model that draws on social change in an effort to bring back the new generation of younger members. Also, in some churches, leadership has developed annual budgets with new business models to have dual services, with one being contemporary in nature and the other is considered to be traditional.
During my visits to several churches around the Commonwealth of Virginia, I have observed that United Methodist churches are now constructing life centers, gymnasiums, camp facilities, educational buildings and many other ministries as part of the business model. This approach is based on the ideology : “if we build, the members will come.” However, this concept may not be the answer to leaders’ growth strategies. In contrast, additional churches have initiated a business strategy of increasing outreach and making social issues a major focus. Many United Methodist churches have transformed themselves into a non-traditional place of worship by providing feed the homeless projects, provide shelter for the homeless, create reading /literacy programs, childcare programs and various other projects. The church leadership’s challenge will be the continual strategy of ensuring ministry growth, membership growth, and religious growth.
In efforts to sustain the survival of your church, The Virginia United Methodist Development Company (DevCo) can help leaders to interpret and develop a decision-making analysis of initiating a stronger membership growth model. The model can be considered a financial path of refinancing existing debt to increase cash flow, revisiting annual budget to include financial adjustments to operational revenue and expenses, and other financial budgetary decisions. Representatives at DevCo are always available to serve church leaders and assist with creating a successful church business growth model. We are Methodists Helping Methodists!
Author: Randy Shelton