How Inflation Will Impact Your Church

Posted by Aaron Buer on October 27, 2022

The latest news on inflation and its impact on our economy came in the form of the announcement of an 8.7% hike in social security benefits.

In case you were wondering, that’s the biggest hike in more than 40 years. This is significant because this number is considered by many as a standard for cost of living increases across our economy. 

I think this is important for churches. Inflation isn’t going away anytime soon, and it will impact your church. We could be in for an interesting and challenging journey over the next few years. 

As you process the potential impact inflation will have on your church, I have a few thoughts to throw into the mix.  

 

Ministry Will Cost More

Prices continue to rise. The latest inflation number I saw was 8.2% over the last 12 months (September).  The bottom line is that ministry will cost more in 2023 than it did in 2022.

It will cost your church more to do the same things you are doing today. How will you address these rising costs? There are really only a few options on the table for navigating these cost increases. Increase giving, cut expenses, rely on cash reserves, or borrow money.  

In this season, I believe we would be wise to consider cutting expenses and focusing on what is core to our ministries.    

Giving Will Likely Decline

Inflation is impacting your families. Depending on where you get your information, the monthly cost of inflation for the average American family is something like $341, $635, or even $715 a month. These numbers leave me shaking my head, trying to understand how families are making things work.  

Families have to get money for food, gas and heat from somewhere, and many will reduce their church giving to compensate. This doesn’t mean they are stingy, faithless, or selfish. It means they are trying to make things work.

We haven’t seen this in my church yet, but I expect reduced giving to show up at Christmas. It seems to me that in January, many of us will see lower-than-anticipated Christmas giving and be forced to adjust budgetary expectations for 2023.  

 

Your Staff Are Poorer

Something else to consider is a significant cost of living increase for your staff. Again, if inflation is running at 8.2%, the $50,000 salary that your staff member makes now only has roughly $46,000 buying power. In other words, that staff member is $4,000 poorer this year.  

A cost of living increase will communicate understanding and value to your staff members. Of course, this will mean significant financial impact on your church budget, but I believe it is a necessary and wise move.

An option to consider for this year (probably not wise year after year) is a one-time inflation bonus instead of a standard cost of living increase.  

If your church is not in a financial position to weather a permanent salary increase of 8% (or what you deem appropriate), you could offer a one-time inflation bonus.

It would be helpful for your staff, but not as helpful as a permanent salary increase. To be clear, I would advise a standard cost of living increase, but I understand that option might not be on the table for every church right now.  

Opportunities 

Alright, enough doom and gloom. Inflation also brings new opportunities in ministry. There is some real good that could come out of the challenges we are facing.  

First, your congregation is probably more open to thinking about money from a biblical perspective than usual.

Consider the opportunity you have to teach your congregation from the Bible on wise financial practices—the importance of living within your means, saving, and giving. People listen differently when they know they need help. 

Also, people in your community will need help in this season. There will be families who need assistance because their heat is about to be shut off. There will be individuals who can’t afford a car repair bill.

Your church will have opportunities to share financial resources and by extension, the love of Christ and perhaps the Gospel as well. This season will be ripe with opportunities to serve families in your community.  

In addition, if your church is in a decent financial position, you may find that you have opportunities to serve churches in your area that are struggling. This challenging financial season could provide opportunities for churches that don’t normally collaborate to build deeper friendships as churches serve other churches.  

Lastly, inflation will provide us an opportunity as church leaders to deepen our faith and trust in God. As much as I personally don’t like this truth, the Church is often at its best when we are uncomfortable, uncertain, and forced to trust in God.  

Wrap Up

I wonder how God is going to show up in this season and provide for your church, guide you into new opportunities, and prove once again how much He loves his church.  

Thanks for reading.  

Topics: Advice

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