Focusing on “saving money” is often a fast track to the bottom.
I remember going to a church as the new pastor that was in survival mode. Morale was down, attendance was down, and predictably, the finances were down. They were scrambling to save money just to keep the lights on.
One Sunday, early in my tenure, I was making my way through the Children’s department and I noticed that it was extremely warm. The children were fussy and dedicated volunteers were on edge—nobody was happy. I asked, “Why don’t you turn on the air conditioner?” The response was, “It’s broken and we do not have the money to repair it.” (They were saving money.)
I was young and brash in those days and it didn’t occur to me that I should call a meeting and debate and fret for two or three hours on how we could somehow scrap together the money to buy a second hand air conditioner somewhere. Instead, the next week I just went to the local appliance store and bought a nice, brand new AC unit and had it cooling the Children’s Church department the next Sunday.
The dedicated volunteers, parents and children were delighted! Word got around. “Things must be getting better; we can afford an AC!”
The implication was: Saving money to survive was no longer the priority; serving our people by making their lives better was.
And guess what, as morale picked up, the attendance picked up, and soon the finances picked up.
That one little decision turned out to be a major turning point for that church and helped us turn a corner away from a slow death and toward new life.
I was young back then and did instinctively what I now try to do intentionally: Instead of spending my time trying to find ways to save money, I spend my time trying to find ways to invest in those things that will make money.
You see, saving a few dollars on the electric bill in the Children’s Department was very costly for, as any pastor knows, a strong children’s ministry is one of the vital services that a church can provide for it’s members and community and it is also one of the most important growth engines for a church.
Having spent most of my adult years as a minister, I see this principle through the lens of a pastor, but it is applicable in every are of life.
Then ONE THING for today: Of course, make wise money decisions by saving money where you can, but spend most of your efforts on investing in those things that make money; that is the path to the sustainable and lasting profitability.