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A Financial Check-Up Could Benefit Your Ministry
By: Bruce Lund

When was the last time you received an evaluation on your loan portfolio? Is your rate as low as the current rates available on the market?

One of the practices of being a good steward is finding ways to save money. Now might be a good time to refinance your loan and lower your rate and payment. Not only will you save money, but you’ll increase your cash flow. During these difficult times, every dollar counts.

Does it make a difference? 
One church in California recently found out that it does make a difference. They were able to refinance their loan and save $533 a month. That’s over $6,000 a year! 

For another church, it was the little things. 

Pastor Donald Hay said, “In today's terms, our loan was extremely small. Thanks to our new loan, we will be able to once again focus our attention on fulfilling the call of the Lord to serve our community.”

Understanding your financial partner is equally important.

This can be done by taking a closer look at the financial institution’s mission statement and due diligence. Ministries are entering a stage where funds are needed for Kingdom expansion, and churches need to have access to a range of loans (i.e., commercial building or property, bus, van, parsonages).

Plus, with a direct lender, you have the opportunity to obtain competitive rates with minimal fees.

Pastor Robert West Jr. from Hillister Assembly of God said, “It has been a pleasure dealing with an organization that recognizes God and understands the importance of churches and their needs.”

Have these difficult economic times affected tithing with your ministry? 
Chances are that they have. Why do we tithe? The Bible says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." --Matthew 6:21.

Tithing is a reminder that God is the supplier of everything we have. It is also God’s personal invitation to an outpouring of his blessing in your life. One of the easiest and most effective ways to accomplish this is to automate your giving.

What are the benefits to electronic giving programs? 
Just take a look at your weekly giving for the last year. The difference will be a significant amount per week strictly attributed to attendance. Think about summer vacations, winter weather, and other distractions that impact the churches’ revenue stream. The average church attendee misses seven services per year, so by simply capturing those donations, churches can increase their revenue by 15 percent. 

For example, if your church has 500 to 1,000 attendees, take your top weekly totals, excluding holidays, and compare those with an average week. Donors may also pledge more when making the decision annually, instead of donating based on what is in their wallets each week.

Does it really work? 
Pastor Kent W. Elliott, Faith Tabernacle said, “Last September, we decided to offer to our members an easier way to give in their tithes and offerings. Understanding more and more people are living in the digital age and not writing checks anymore, we began to offer electronic giving. At first, I encouraged our whole leadership team to join my family in this new exciting way to give. Our congregation began to catch the vision and now we have over 1/3 of our giving coming in automatically. This allows ministry to continue to happen 24/7 even during vacations, summers, sicknesses, and weather cancellations. Our members want to make sure they are giving their very best and FIRST to God. Electronic giving ensures that God is getting His portion before the very first bill is ever paid. I would highly recommend any church to look into this type of giving for their members.”

Bruce Lund is assistant vice president of marketing at ACCU. For more information about Stewardship in Action, visit www.AmericasChristianCU.com.

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