Episode 4 – Meet your Hosts Part 2 : A Sit Down With Mike Whittymore

Simplify Church, the podcast
Join us as we sit down with the second host of the Simplify Church podcast: Mike Whittymore. With nearly 20 years of ministry experience, Mike understands the joy, pain, and failure that comes with serving the Church. He has a passion for helping other everyday Pastors and Leaders just like you. Don’t miss a second of this fun interview!

Resources mentioned in the show:

https://www.pluggedin.com : A great tool to help you decide what entertainment is appropriate for you and or your family.

Mike mentions this great resource by R.C. Sproul

Episode 3 – Meet Your Hosts Part 1: A Sit Down With Greg Braswell

This week we take a deep dive into the mind and story of Greg Braswell. He walks us through nearly 20 years of ministry, tells some great stories, and shares with us some of the theologians and leaders that have made a huge impact on him. Greg’s a passionate leader and follower of Christ. His heart for everyday Pastors and Leaders is contagious and we are confident it will be an encouragement to you.

Show links:

Greg talk about his love for The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. You can order it here:https://www.amazon.com/Valley-Vision-Collection-Puritan-Devotions/dp/0851512283

Episode 1 – Why Pastors Need Rest (And Why It’s So Hard to Do)

“Why is rest so hard?”

Does the stress of ministry sometimes feel overwhelming? Do you ever feel like you’re hanging on by a thread…or facing down burnout.

According to one survey, over 75% of pastors report being “highly” or “extremely” stressed. And yet so often we don’t do anything about the problem.

We know the Bible calls us to rest. We know our souls need rest. And yet, how do you rest when the demands on your time and energy are seemingly never-ending?

In this first episode of Simplify Church, we are digging into the challenge of finding rest as a pastor. Our guest for this episode, Stephen Boster, has a lot to say about this topic.

Join us for this very honest and real conversation about the importance of rest in ministry!

Listen Now

Links from today’s show:
Connect With Stephen: www.servantsbydesign.com
Outsource Your Overwhelm:www.simplifychurch.com
2 Geeks & a Microphone: https://youtu.be/WAQ797eILR0

Three Impactful Pastor Appreciation Month Ideas

The gift for pastors - outsource the overwhelm

Give Your Pastor a Gift They'll Actually Appreciate

October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Having lived the pastor’s life for some time, I have received some wonderful thanks and appreciation for my ministry service over the years. Our pastors need to feel supported and appreciated by all of us. Here are three ways you and your church can show appreciation to your pastor this month. 

1. The Gift of Time

How many extra hours does your pastor put in to help shepherd, encourage, and disciple others?  Between all the ministry meetings, sermon preparation, ministry calls, and counseling, your pastor probably does way more than you realize.   

According to multiple surveys, the average number of hours a pastor works each week is around 50, with a large percentage working even more than that. One way to appreciate your pastor? Give them the gift of time.

Gift a Vacation

Why not provide your pastor with an extra week of vacation?  This doesn’t really cost the church financially. However, that extra rest will reap more benefits in the long run. I even know of some churches that have gone the extra step and paid for the entire vacation to bless their pastor.

Gift a Sabbatical

Most pastors love to study God’s Word, as well as other topics related to Christian leadership and growth. Another way to bless your pastor with the gift of time is providing specific time for exclusive deep study.  Not only will your pastor develop personal knowledge, but the church will be blessed with the result, either in leadership development or perhaps even a powerful new sermon series.

2. Support Their Talents

Does you pastor have numerous bookshelves in their office or home? As mentioned above, your pastor probably enjoys personal study and development. You can support your pastor’s passion for learning. 

Gift A Book Budget

Does your church or ministry provide a book budget for your pastor?  When the church I served at had a book budget, I really enjoyed knowing that my church supported me in helping me develop my skills and interests for ministry. It gave me reassurance and peace of mind that my church supported my leadership and continued learning. 

CHURCH ACCOUNTING NOTE: For church bookkeeping purposes, this is considered an accountable reimbursement expense or ministry expense, so long as the funds are being used for the personal development of the pastor. This is a way many churches are able to compensate their pastor in a non-taxable way. The items purchased belong to the pastor, but are paid for out of the general budget of the church.

Gift An Amazon Gift Card

This was one of the best gifts I received as a pastor. Amazon gift cards allowed me to purchase books, things I needed for home or office, or to just splurge on something for myself or my family.  Once I was even specifically told NOT to use the card for ministry-related purchases. Instead, it was ‘recommended strongly’ to use the card as fun money. That was a gift I have never forgotten.

CHURCH ACCOUNTING NOTE: There are some income tax concerns related to anything that can be considered comparable to cash. Any amount over $50 will need to be claimed as earned income, since the pastor is more than likely an employee of the church (yes, even though he gets a housing allowance and pays into SECA).

We are a church bookkeeping company, after all, and our goal is to keep pastors and their churches out of trouble with the IRS. 😊  

Be aware, as you look to provide any gifts of monetary/cash value, and consider seeking counsel to ensure the pastor, and the church, report all items appropriately.  If this sounds complicated or overwhelming, don’t worry. We help churches manage these exact situations through our Simplify Church Bookkeeping Service. 

3. Togetherness

Is your pastor married? Putting long hours and work into ministry often takes a toll on a pastor’s home life. Please do not assume your pastor is an expert in this area. I guarantee you they struggle, just like so many others, to balance work and home. What can you do to help support them in this area?

Gift A Weekend Away

Like the vacation discussed above, consider providing your pastor and their spouse a date weekend. A retreat for just the two of them allows your pastor to focus exclusively on their spouse. Imagine the deeper connection that you helped provide for them. If covering the costs of a weekend getaway are outside of your budget, consider offering to provide childcare, if they have children. Time to focus on their relationship as a couple is vital to their success in ministry and in their ability to pour out to the congregation. 

Gift A Marriage Retreat

Provide a paid weekend for a marriage intensive for your pastor and their spouse. This is a more purposed gift than the weekend away in focusing on developing their marriage, and dealing with the conflicts that inevitably arise in any relationship.  

How Will You Celebrate Pastor Appreciation Month?

Feel free to consolidate resources with your Sunday School class, community group, life group, or family to support your pastor this month, or even additionally at a different time of year.  We all need encouragement and appreciation to help fuel our tanks. As our pastors have poured into us, let’s work together to pour into them. 

How Do You Present Church Finances?

how to present church finances

The Elephant In The Room

How To Have Difficult Conversations About Church Finances

We’ve heard from so many pastors that their budget planning process is discouraging, full of tension, and devoid of joy.

There is a sense that anything else would be easier than the stress of budget planning and having conversations about how the church’s money is being spent.

So we put together a free live training to help change the narrative around budget planning.

And now we’re sharing the replay with you:

Our goal is to help pastors and church leaders navigate these difficult conversations with grace, know how to present church finances, and equip you to be a good steward of the resources entrusted to your church. 

Don’t let bad financial decisions or uncomfortable conversations be the downfall of your church. Learn the skills you need to build a healthy financial foundation for your church today!

HOW TO CREATE A HEALTHY CHURCH BUDGET

IT’S TIME TO PLAN YOUR ANNUAL CHURCH BUDGET

For many churches, fall is an exciting time! There are a host of programs, ministries, and outreach events that are happening. Many people return to church after a summer of travel and family events, regular programs restart after the summer break, and there’s a sense of energy and excitement about a new season and slightly cooler temperatures.

However, for pastors and church leaders, this season can also bring a sense of overwhelm. Because while everyone else is reconnecting and enjoying a return to routine events and programs, church leaders are (or should be) behind the scenes planning the annual budget for the next year.

With it being such a busy season, it can be difficult to find the time to actually cast vision and create a plan for your church budget. But taking the time to plan and build a vision-centered budget will truly make a difference in the life of your church.

WHY YOU NEED A VISION-CENTERED CHURCH BUDGET

Without a vision and a plan, you hinder your church’s ability to grow. In churches, it’s easy to spend money. There are many “good” ministry activities to support. But how do you know the money you’re spending is the BEST use of funds? The only way is to budget for expenses based off your vision.

HOW TO BUILD A HEALTHY CHURCH BUDGET

Here are three vision-casting budget hacks to help shape your budget conversations and get the most out of your meetings.

1. AIM FOR ALIGNMENT

Your budget should reflect the overall mission, vision, and values of your church. This goes for each and every department. Think of alignment as a filter you lay over the budget. As you examine each line item, ask the question, “Are we using our resources to help us advance the goals of our church?”

2. TRANSPARENCY IS CRITICAL

Asking your church to affirm and support the annual budget requires trust. Take time to evaluate how you can grow in your communication and transparency. A few simple ways to accomplish this could be by sending out a survey or holding a dinner for a group of trusted members so that they can provide feedback.

3. BUDGETS NEED DREAMERS

Budget reviews and planning meetings can go negative in a hurry. And while it’s important to be practical and realistic about the numbers, don’t forget to dream. Remind your finance team that God has big plans in this next year. Leave room in your budget for God to show up.

These budget hacks may not solve everything, but they will guide your conversations in a God-honoring direction. In the end, that should be the goal of every church budget.

NEED A LITTLE MORE HELP?

Your church budget should be a blueprint for financial health and ministry effectiveness. It should simplify decisions and fund the growth-engines of your church.

But, more often than not, that’s not the case.

Sometimes it’s because you struggle to know how to do it well. If that’s you, then Church Budget Blueprint can help.

Other times it’s because your team isn’t aligned. Perhaps you have a finance committee that doesn’t see eye to eye, or a volunteer bookkeeper who insists on doing things the same way they’ve always been done.

We’ve seen it happen over and over again. That’s why we’re hosting a free training later this month: The Elephant in the Room: How to Have Difficult Conversations About Church Finances.

You’ll learn why a healthy church budget is so vitally important to the life of your church, and how to navigate challenging conversations about finances and the church budget with wisdom and grace.

Make sure you’re on our email list so you can be the first to get the details on this free training.

We’ve seen too many churches struggle with this exact situation. And we want to offer a better path forward.

With a well-prepared, vision-centered budget and the tools to navigate these conversations, you can reduce the overwhelm you currently feel, and be confident that you are stewarding the resources of your church well.

Get Great Content Like This Sent Straight to Your Inbox!

How to Encourage Giving in Times of Economic Uncertainty

Church giving in times of economic uncertainty

IS THE ECONOMY AFFECTING YOUR CHURCH?

Turn on the news and you’ll hear plenty about how the price of everything going up – housing, cars, food, gas. Or simply head to nearest gas station or grocery store and look at the prices on the shelves.  Economic inflation used be something we learned about in history class. Now we’re seeing it happen in real time.

Inflation is currently affecting everyone and everything, including churches.  As everything continues to cost more money, paychecks are not reaching as far as they used to. So what does this mean for you and for your church? How can your church deal with the impact of inflation? Is the decline in your weekly giving numbers a reflection of an average summer giving slump or an indication of a bigger problem?

These are all valid questions to ask. They are not meant to alarm you, but to equip you to lead and shepherd your church more effectively. So today, I want to unpack a few things you can do as pastor to lead your church through a time of economic uncertainty.

SHOULD YOU BE WORRIED ABOUT THE IMPACT OF INFLATION ON YOUR CHURCH?

While the current economic crisis is new, economic uncertainty is not. After all, we’ve just come out from two years of unprecedented change due to living through a world-wide pandemic. Here at Simplify Church, we’ve done our best to provide you with tools and resources to navigate your church finances through the pandemic.

You can read more about managing your church budget in a crisis, 3 steps to survive the 2021 church giving slump, and how to build a post-pandemic church budget.

These are foundational principles that your church should operate by. There are practical things you can do to stay on top of your church finances and ensure that you are being a good steward of the resources entrusted to your church.

If you are noticing a dip in your weekly tithes and offerings, you may need to sit down and re-think your budget allocations for the year. We’ll have another free training coming up in the next several weeks to walk you through how to do just that.

But I think something that can get lost in our efforts to be good stewards of church finances and manage money and resources effectively is the need for pastors to talk to their congregations about what is happening in our economy and encourage giving in church.

HOW CAN YOU ENCOURAGE GIVING IN CHURCH?

Last month, I shared six things you can do to increase church giving in 2022. I also recently shared videos on our Facebook page about common objections people have for why they don’t give and how to overcome them. In this article, I want to focus on how we can specifically encourage giving in times of economic uncertainty.

Remind people that even in the midst of uncertainty, God remains in control 

Yes, things can feel out of control. Yes, we might not know how things will play out. But we have a choice to walk in fear or walk by faith.

Nothing surprises God. In all of history God has been in complete control and His way is perfect. Even when we don’t see how things are going to work out, God has a perfect plan that will be completed regardless of our input. As Matthew 6:28-32 reminds us, that our heavenly Father knows what we need.

When we’re in the midst of the uncertainty, it can be difficult to see the way out. It’s equally as difficult to share with someone the fact that God has the plan. But nonetheless, it’s our role as pastors to remind people of this fact.

One way to encourage giving in economic uncertainty is to remind people that God is in control.

Remind people that God’s commands haven’t changed

One of the biggest objections to giving in the church is a lack of understanding of how and why we give. People want to know, what does the Bible say about giving in the church? Why is giving to the church important? Does tithing mean giving to the church? Why should I give to the church? How much should I be giving to my church? Does it matter how much I give? Can I just give when I happen to have excess cash with me?

While our circumstances might change, the truth of God’s word and his commands for us do not.

As pastor, you must communicate both what God has instructed us to do and why those commands are not dependent on our current circumstances.  God spoke through His word thousands of years ago in a time that was different than we have now. But even then, he was in control and was working through His perfect way.

God has given us everything. And He has called us to give back to him the first fruits of our labor. Not the excess or leftovers. Or in times of plenty. If the economy was good. If you had a bumper crop.  We give back because He first gave to us. Regardless of our circumstances or current situation.

It is challenging for some people to give when they are facing bills and notices for payment in the mail but the fact remains, God is good and He provides.

Remind people that God rewards faithfulness

I am not saying that because someone gives, God will reward them with health and wealth. However, it is clear that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).  God hasn’t called us to give in a legalistic manner, but rather He looks at the heart and the intent of the gift.

If a person remains faithful to God and gives because they love the Lord and know that’s a step of spiritual development for them, it has been shown time and time again that God responds to that person in ways they may never have imagined.

Cultivate a heart of generosity at your church

One of the most important things you can do as pastor is talk about the how and why of giving and foster a heart of generosity in your congregation. When we don’t want to think about or talk about giving, it often comes from a place of fear.

If you approach giving out of fear or obligation, that’s the message that will be communicated. And that message is not compelling. A heart of generosity is not birthed from a place of fear, but out of trust and joy in following Christ. What is truly needed is not a five-step program to get people to give more, but a complete identity shift; a change in how we define and talk about generosity.

If you are ready to stop focusing on an uncertain future and start cultivating a culture of generosity in your church, regardless of economic circumstances, then download our free guide to Building a Culture of Radical Generosity in your church.

Learn practical steps to begin building a culture that transforms the way your congregation thinks about money.

HOW TO LEAD YOUR CHURCH IN TIMES OF ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY

Remind yourself of these same things.

While it’s tough to see the end in sight in times of uncertainty, we can remember that God continues to be faithful. These times are not new to him. We need only remember to stay the course and encourage people to lean into the Giver of Life. 

Pastor, how will you use this economic uncertainty to make much of Jesus? 

Six Keys to Increase Church Giving in 2022

Six Keys to Increase Church Giving in 2022

The Challenge of Pastoral Ministry in 2022

Life is busy. The list of things that need to get done continues to grow. Sometimes it seems like there are never enough hours in a day. And let’s be honest, you’d love to bring on another staff person, but it seems the finances just aren’t there to support it. You feel stuck.

Sound familiar? This is a common sentiment among pastors I’ve talked with.

But what if, instead of spinning your wheels and trying to do it all yourself, you took a step back and focused on a few simple, specific actions to boost giving at your church?

Sometimes when we’re in the middle of a difficult season and we feel overwhelmed by the weight of it all, we don’t have the brain capacity to step back and get perspective and think about the problem differently.

But what if was possible to bring on another staff person, or at least a part-time support person to help carry the load? What if this next season could be about helping you AND your church experience life, and health, and growth?

Are There Ways to Increase Giving At Your Church?

Here’s the thing. I know that God wants to do great things in and through the life of your church.  I also know that that means you need to lead your church well – from a place of rest, not a place of burnout. So, first take a minute to stop and breathe.

And then let’s talk about how to increase giving at your church. Because the solution to your exhaustion might just be sharing the need with your congregation. 

Here are six simple actions you can take to foster generosity and increase donations in your church this year:

1. Begin with prayer

I know this feels a little cliche, but sometimes we get so caught up in our to-do lists and routines that we forget to really connect with God through prayer.

This is the foundation for our ability to lead from a healthy place and grow a healthy church, so spend a moment examining your own prayer life. What does it look like? Is it full of life or stuck in a rut? What kind of example are you setting for your congregation? And are you calling your people to prayer?

When we pray, God listens. Every other thing we do won’t really matter, if we aren’t prioritizing this spiritual practice. 

2. Establish A Vision-Centered Budget

According to the CAF-USA-2019 Giving Report47% of givers would donate more if they knew how their money would be spent.

I say this a lot, but a budget really does build trust in giving.

Your church members want to know that the money they are faithfully giving is going to make a difference. This means first of all having a budget in place. But it also means that the generosity of your church is impacted by how much your budget is mission-focused and vision-centered. 
 
If your budget simply exists to keep the lights of the building on, that’s not very compelling. But if part of your budget is going to make an impact in the lives of others, that’s something that people can get excited about being a part of. 

3. Share the vision

While the very act of having a budget builds trust in giving, and having a vision-centered budget furthers that trust, to truly build excitement, you need to share the vision.

People give to a cause they believe in and feel a part of. God wants cheerful givers, and so do you. When you share the vision on a regular basis, you help people own that vision and get excited about being a part of it.

As Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” If you’re struggling to share the vision of your church or you realize you’re lacking a vision, we have a free resource to help you get clear on what the specific mission and vision of your church is. You can download your free guide here.

4. Celebrate Stories

We are a story-based culture. Stories connect with people and provide clarity. Stories stay with us and stick in our brains.

What does this mean for you and for your church?

 Continually share stories that illustrate what God is doing in and through the generosity of your church. If you have the capability, record video testimonials that showcase God at work! Or invite people on the stage to share how the resources of th church are being used to impact lives.  

5. CALL PEOPLE TO ACTION

This is another important tip pastors need to take to heart.

No, you don’t need to sound salesy. But you do need to call people to action. Bodies at rest, tend to stay at rest. People tend to continue to do what they’ve always done – unless an outside force calls them to something more.

When we are not bold in calling people to give, we communicate a lack of belief in the importance of giving. You help people grow in their faith and in experiencing the blessings of God in their lives when you call people to take action.

6. Make Giving Simple and easy to do

This is also a tip based on human nature. If something is difficult to do, or requires too much time, fewer people will do it. For example, consider creating a two-question survey. You will get more responses than if you asked people to fill out a 20-question survey. 

The same is true for giving at your church. If it is too difficult or takes too much effort, people won’t do it.

Fewer and fewer people carry cash or checks these days. I’m not advocating that you stop passing the plate on Sunday mornings, but it is vital that you think about how to make giving simple and easy to do. Online giving, text-to-give and recurring donations are all ways to make giving simple and painless for your people.

How Do I Set Up Online Giving For My Church?

If you need help making giving simple and accessible, Simplify Give offers the convenience of online giving, with free text-to-give, no monthly usage fees and simple, affordable rates.

What Will The Rest of 2022 Look Like In Your Church?

Only God knows what is in store for your church in the coming months.

But my prayer is that by taking a few simple steps, you are able to lead your church to experience greater generosity, financial health and future growth…AND at the same time reduce the amount of stress in your life.

At Simplify Church, we provide financial guidance and support to help pastors and churches thrive. We’ve helped hundreds of small and growing churches optimize their church finances, and we’d love to do the same for you.

Grow a Healthy Church

It’s time to change the way we talk about giving in church!

Find clear direction, cast vision and grow a healthy church

The Simple Way to Execute a Visionary Planning Process in Your Church

Is Your Church Financially Healthy?

We’ll show you HOW to find out and     WHY it matters in this free guide!