Monday, October 19, 2015

Always more than two choices

When I travel in the car I often listen to podcasts I've downloaded for that purpose. One of those podcasts is Dave Ramsey. People call into his program asking for financial advice. Many of them are in financial trouble and feel like they have to made a choice between one or two options, neither of which are very good. Ramsey always challenges them to find more than two options. He explains that there are almost always more than just two options.

It's easy to get caught up in the either/or mindset. I know it is for me especially if I'm feeling stuck or caught in a difficult situation. When we feel we are limited to just two choices we can begin to feel really trapped, and if we focus too much on those two choices we become unable to identify other choices that may be available to us.

A church is feeling financial pressures and begins to look at cutting the budget. Someone suggests the church may need to cut staff salaries or reduce benefits. Another person suggests reducing the money that goes to mission support. Neither are options that the church wants to do, but the more they discuss these two options the more it appears they are the only choices they have.

But, there are other choices. Instead of cutting the budget could the church find ways to increase revenue? How long has it been since the church taught on stewardship or challenged the congregation to give sacrificially? Is it possible for the church to apply for grants for specific ministries they are doing? Has the church helped its members with estate planning which may not lead to immediate increases in revenue but could remind people to remember the ministry of their church in their estate planning? Could the church offer Financial Peace University to help its members gain control of their finances which could lead to increased giving?

Many churches feel frustrated that they are unable to attract young families. Some of these churches believe that is the only way their church will continue after their current membership is gone. Regardless of the size of your community, there are dozens of people groups your church can minister to and perhaps encourage to be part of your ministry. What about reaching out to senior citizens, single parents, families providing care for their children and their parents, grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, widows, persons with various addictions, latchkey children, persons who have been previously hurt by a church, business people, homeless persons, or the unchurched wealthy people in your community?

As you can see, most of the challenges you face will have more than two options, but you have to look for them. The more time you spend focusing on just two choices, the more difficult it is to identify other options. The more options you have the better decisions you will usually make.

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