There was once a congregation in another presbytery that resulted from a merger of two declining churches whose buildings were just a few block apart. Reluctantly, they both admitted they needed to merge and sell one of the buildings, which they did, providing quite a lot of money in the bank. Their young, energetic pastor convinced them to use some of the funds to do long-deferred maintenance and remodeling so they could more effectively use the building for ministry. Then she tried to help them discern how God might be calling them to serve the needs in their community. Unfortunately, while she was doing that, the congregation was busy developing opposing factions and actively resisting every new idea that was suggested.
Frustrated, the pastor invited me to come and work with congregational leaders in a process called Asset Mapping, an activity in which a group is led to recognize and name all the assets available for their ministry; to make a sort of inventory. I asked them to write on sticky notes everything they could think of in different categories: physical assets (building, location, furniture, dishes, pews, the different rooms, musical instruments, etc.); individual assets (talents, gifts, knowledge, or skills of member and friends, and things they could create); associations (people and groups they have connections with in the community); institutions (agencies, businesses, or organizations they might partner with); and, of course, economic assets (money, rental income, things they could potentially sell).
The group covered an entire wall with sticky notes, and they were amazed and excited by how many resources were available to them. Alas, it proved to be just an exercise, for when the time came in the process for them to connect those resources into a way to minister to the community, they stopped working collaboratively, divided back into factions, and came up with reasons why anything that was suggested wouldn’t work. All they really wanted to talk about, it seemed, was how to attract new members. Less than a year later, it became clear that all they were ever going to do was spend down their money and closed in a few years. And so, their pastor, one of their greatest asses, left to take another call.
When congregations consider their assets, they often only consider money and property, and get stuck thinking about what they don’t have instead of creatively using the resources they do have available to serve their community as Jesus’ hands and fee. In this article a pastor describes how one congregation leveraged its assets to secure funds needed for ministry. One of those assets was property, but they also utilized intangible assets such as the specialized skills of members, the church’s good reputation in the community, and relationships with other groups. The pastor explains, “….when I say leveraging assets, it’s not just about four corners of the building around you or what you own. It’s also the people in your church, the people in the community, the organizations you can team with, and other churches.”
Please contact me if you’d like help making an inventory of your assets. Your church may have more resources than you think!
Grace & Peace,
Transitional Presbytery Leader