20 years ago, CNN financial analysts predicted that a cashless society was “generations away in the United states.” Those analysts would be shocked if they knew what the world would look like in 20 years.
Here’s the truth:
Our world is changing rapidly. Along with it, so is the church.
Our digital age is taking us into the future almost faster than we can understand it.
The technological revolution in the world of global finance will change the way the church does business very quickly. As stewards and shepherds of God’s people, pastors ought to be aware of these trends and learn to think biblically about them in order to expand God’s kingdom in their communities.
Here are 7 tips for pastors as they consider how to carry out God’s ancient commission to make disciples of all nations in our modern world (Matthew 28:16–20).
Remember the Faithfulness of God
Don’t let the evolution of the marketplace distract you from the reason God called you to ministry: to preach the gospel, make disciples, and be a beacon of the kingdom of Christ in your community.
“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thesselonians 5:24).
God isn’t swayed by an evolving economy.
God isn’t surprised by new technology.
“The Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
Trust God as you lead your church through any technological or economic transition.
Pray, seek his wisdom, pursue godliness, and exercise character.
There’s only so much you can control. The rest is up to God. This is a good thing.
Know the Latest Giving Trends and Tools
In order to prayerfully lead your church into the modern era, it is important to know and understand the latest financial trends and the tools that enable businesses to thrive amidst these trends.
As an example, growing eCommerce solutions will change the way that churches are able to market themselves, creating a need among churches to become competent in digital tools to maintain and grow their community.
While it may seem crass to pastors to think of the survival of their church in business terms, it is critical to draw upon a knowledge base that extends beyond theological education if the church is going to thrive.
Work Toward Becoming Financially Agile
Financial agility is basically the ability to maintain and grow your financial stability in a growing and evolving financial climate.
A church that desires to retain its financial stability while neglecting to consider modern digital giving solutions has a poorly formulated plan.
Passing the plate will eventually become only one way of gathering funds from those in the church.
More than that: as digital giving in the church increases, churches will realize that models of fundraising that utilize these tools have a higher and more reliable baseline than churches that rely on only one method of collection.
Create and implement a plan to use up-to-date best financial practices in light of developing and future trends.
Set Measurable Goals
Set specific financial goals for your church that have clear metrics for success and failure.
Whether it relates to your debt, a new building project, a new ministry program, or simply its financial stability, your church should always be working toward something with its finances.
This will keep your church accountable to manage its money well, and to ensure that every dollar follows a chain of custody toward a particular end.
Start Small with New Technology
It’s unfortunately common for many churches to buy heaps of new technology, fail to implement it well, and then grow cynical toward new trends.
If you see a new trend or tool that will help your church to faithfully steward its resources, start small, do your research, and implement it consistently and wisely with your congregation.
Make Change Easy
Shepherd your team through technological updates.
Don’t launch a new program, feature, or tool one day that revolutionizes your church’s culture.
Make gradated changes to your protocol and economic ecosystem so that both your staff and your members can make a comfortable transition to a sustainable new tool.
Take Hard Questions Seriously
Prepare to answer difficult questions from your congregation.
Not everyone will buy into a new tool or program. Make sure that you are prepared to handle these questions with all the information and with a calm attitude.
“Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly” (1 Peter 5:2).
When you invest in new tools, you invest in them for the sake of your congregation, not for the sake of the tool.
Don’t Minimize Old Systems
Celebrate the gifts and systems that have taken you this far.
Some in your congregation will have a nostalgic relationship with passing the plate, or some antiquated version of handling church resources. This is good! It means they are invested in the church. Celebrate those older methods, and keep them around as long as people are excited about them alongside new tools.
The Apostle Paul writes to the Philippians: “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Pihlippians 1:3). When you implement new methods or technologies, aim to communicate this to your church: “I am so thankful for you, and this tool is an expression of gratitude for your faithfulness in this church.”
Request Guidance from Other Pastors
Request guidance from other pastors. Many pastors have already walked down this road. Ask them for help.
More than that, ask business and technology professionals in your church to consult on important decisions surrounding these tools.
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” (Proverbs 12:15)
Look at Reviews
Make sure the tools you use are established and well-reviewed by other pastors.
If a tool—such as a digital giving tool, church app, or church website company—showcases its work with other churches, reach out to the staff at that church and ask them relevant questions:
- Why did you implement this tool?
- Did you get out of it what you wanted?
- Would you recommend it?
- Do you wish you used a different brand or tool?
- Is it worth the money?
- Is it hard to learn?
- Does the company provide on-boarding training?
Capterra is a great website for checking reviews of all nonprofit-related technology.
Make all these decisions prayerfully, with your spiritual eyes on Christ and your physical eyes on the marketplace.
Communicate your changes winsomely.
Make changes wisely.
And do it all with wise counsel and a prayerful heart.
God is faithful, and no new trends or tools will ever negate that.