Giving and Mission

Decoration image for quotation

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it….

Psalm 24:1

The Landscape for Ministry During COVID-19

Shortly after the COVID-19 lockdown in March, an organization called Waybase, in conjunction with several other researchers, conducted a survey of Christian ministries and churches in Canada. The purpose of the research was to get an early sense of how these ministries would fare with the “new normal” being thrust upon them.

Over 2,630 organizations participated in the survey from 132 traditions. The results were published in May. At that time, 57% of the organizations indicated that they had reduced services, and 20% said they would be temporarily closed. Over 68% indicated that their revenue had decreased as of April, when the survey was issued. When asked about how they felt their revenue would be affected in the coming three months, 70% anticipated a continued decrease. However, the long-range forecast for returning to pre-COVID levels was optimistic.

In August, the Canadian Centre for Christian Charities (CCCC) also conducted a survey of their members. Out of the respondents, 76% felt that things would be “just fine”. This didn’t mean that the organizations were not undergoing significant change to be “just fine”; rather, it may have indicated flexibility in the leadership and enough resources to maintain a connection with the people they serve. In fact, John Pellowe, in his article Christian Ministries: A pandemic update, indicates that to adapt to the new circumstances, ministries—whether church or mission agency—have needed to convert to online programming, increase communication, and lower expenses.

In the CCCC research, organizations that felt they had an uncertain future often had a correlation to at least one of two data points. First, they were organizations with small budgets (under $300,000), meaning that their resources were probably thin to begin with, and COVID-19 might be a challenge that stretches them too far. Second, they were organizations that have a provincial or national scope. This may suggest that they “have a looser connection to their donors” and/or an increased challenge staying connected during the pandemic.

Regardless of the size and type of the organization, the top two anticipated challenges faced by ministries will be “public fatigue” and the “inability to travel and social distancing requirements” that hamper ministry, both domestically and internationally.

The reason we’re reviewing the landscape for ministry during COVID-19 is to make an appeal on behalf of all churches and mission agencies in Canada. Please remember to support the ministries that you supported before the lockdown in March. In fact, if possible, consider increasing your support and prayerfully diversify who you support. According to the Barna report Christians’ Financial Motivation Matters (Nov 2019), at the best of times only half of Christians could be considered givers, those motivated to give by the well-being of others, and of that half only 23% give to charities. Of greater concern right now is the future of giving, because, according to the research, regular Sunday service attendance strongly correlates to giving goals among those who do give. Without an in-person Sunday service, many givers may feel lost.

Creative Giving Strategies

The good news is that Canadian Christians can make a positive impact in the world, both near and far. We are blessed with wealth, safety, and technology that can make giving generously a reality. This is a privilege that many of our brothers and sisters around the world lack. Even if you don’t have a bank account full of money right now, there are creative ways that you can raise money for ministries that are unveiling the Kingdom around the world.

Use Your Unique Skills

Ken Shigematsu and Tenth Church have developed a creative way to raise funds for missions. Ken, a thoughtful pastor and writer, has written several well-known books. Among them are God in My Everything and Survival Guide for the Soul. Ken has designated 100% of the royalties from the books to several ministries, and the whole church supports this as a way to raise funds. Your church may not have an author like Ken, but there may be a unique product or service that you can pinpoint to use as a fundraiser for ministries your community supports.

Birthdays

Have you ever thought of getting your friends and family to celebrate your birthday with a gift to your favourite charity? Facebook has a simple feature to set up a fundraiser with a few clicks. They even disburse the money on your behalf. All you have to do is ask your friends to participate… and bug them until they do. There are also crowdfunding platforms where you can create a campaign and invite your friends to participate, such as GoFundMe. Features in the platform automatically report your progress to your goal; like Facebook, they disburse the funds.

Investments

This idea will probably resonate most with Boomers, but there are great organizations that help you convert investments, such as stocks and mutual funds, into gifts for charities and give you a tax receipt. Link Charity is one of those organizations that make this kind of transaction easy.

Giving generously is an important part of our discipleship. Paul, in I and II Corinthians, makes it clear that through our giving we show our love for each other as Christians, show our unity—overcoming barriers such as Jew and Gentile or Black and White, and show our care for the poor and disadvantaged in a practical way. Now, in these days of COVID-19, let’s give like never before.

Mission Central is a catalyst that inspires churches to be missional communities and individuals to become mature disciples of Jesus. Watch for updates on the Mission Central Conference – coming January 2020. Visit us at: www.missioncentral.ca

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About the author

Profile photo for John Hall

John Hall became the Executive Director at Mission Central (formerly Missions Fest Vancouver) in 2014. In 1997 he, his wife and brother in-law started Eco Outdoor Sports in Metro Vancouver. In 2003 the business was sold, and his family entered a seven-year ‘desert experience’. During that time the Lord impressed on John and his family the importance of hearing and obeying Jesus every day, something that he tries to integrate into everything he does. In 2010 God changed the family’s direction and led him to finish his degree at Regent College in preparation for life as a full-time missionary overseas. Although that ministry opportunity didn’t develop as planned a whole new perspective and participation-in Christ’s mission was born at Missions Fest Vancouver. It’s now a daily occurrence for John’s business background and theological training get a workout.

John and his wife Wei live in Richmond, BC. They have two wonderful adult girls. John completed his MA at Regent College in 2010.

Church
Church
The Tapestry Church (Richmond, BC)
Organization
Organization
Mission Central (Burnaby, BC) — Executive Director

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