FAQs on Finances

Here are a list of questions that may come up as we do a generosity “pulse check”. If you have a questions that is not answered here please feel free to submit your question using the form on this page and we will respond to you.

1. How much is St Moses going to cost?

St. Moses is a cost controlled plan for a strong church start. Central’s commitment centers mostly on the cost for the support of the lead pastor, Ian McFadden. In year one (now, 2014-2015) we have supported the initial work of the church start through $20,000 in special gifts and $80,000 in money we designated for this effort from our tithe of our Worship Center building campaign in 2007.

The most important strategic decision was making this a plant that would recruit about 40 of our current members and leaders. They, and new members from beyond Central, will give the majority of the funds needed in the future. This has already amounted to $150,000 or more pledged for St. Moses future. Praise God for this provision!

This gives a strong financial base for the new community, but naturally affects Central’s support. Central’s budget will be losing these generous givers.

In addition, Ian has assembled a team that is ministering on a volunteer basis, or who are raising their own support. This is easily equivalent to an additional $150,000 that God is providing other ways!

In years 2 through 4 Central has a commitment to give at least another $100,000 total ($50,000, $30,000, $20,000) to make their start secure.

2. How does the church plant impact Central financially?

Planting St. Moses impacts Central most by core Central members leaving to start this new community. These members currently give to the Central ministry budget; that support will shift to the new church plant. This will impact us as early as April. Additionally, Central is making a commitment of additional funds to allow St. Moses to have a strong start in ministry.

3. What is the plan to help Central deal with this loss of support?

Let’s be clear, this is a big step of faith and we are trusting that God will show up in a big way. No plan we make will be sufficient without God’s intervention. That being said, to not plan at all would be unwise on our part.
The plan has two major components. The main component is increasing the number of people who actively give to the ministry at Central. This has to be our goal, because generosity is an important mark of the spiritual health of a Christ-follower. (See 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.)

If everyone who attends Central begins to give in a regular way, we will have no problem meeting our ministry challenges, despite commissioning some of our members to this new church endeavor. In fact, if every person or family attending Central gave as little as $15 more each week, we’d meet our challenges!

In the event that giving does not increase enough, the Trustees, Session, and Staff have been working on an alternative plan to allow Central to do its core ministry on a smaller budget. The two major areas of ministry expense for Central are personnel and mission giving. As we expand mission giving in support of St. Moses, this will impact our mission giving to other ministries until our support base rises again. We will do everything we can to mitigate the impact on our missionaries. In the event we have to reduce personnel, that means some important ministry functions will have to be simplified, delegated to volunteers, or we will do without.

4. What about the money we spend on ourselves? Can’t we save there?

This question arises when we see color handouts at worship and drink nice coffee. Our entire printing budget less than 0.05% of the church budget. In some cases we could save by printing in black and white, however our connection with a printing company that prints our materials at cost makes color printing just as efficient, and raises our level of excellence when needed. While we’re at it, our improved coffee service only costs Central $20 a week. Voluntary donations and other groups using our coffee service subsidize it almost completely.

The question behind these concerns is whether our leaders can be trusted in how they steward our gifts. Central is cost conscious in all our ministry decisions. In other areas of ministry and ministry support, such as energy use and energy contracts, we save tens of thousands every year through comparison bidding and judicious decisions.

Central has exercised great restraint in limiting our budget’s growth. Across the past 5 years the US inflation rate has averaged about 1.7% per year. During the same period, Central’s ministry budget has only gone up an average of 1.5% per year. This is despite growing numbers in student ministry, total church attendance, and preparations for a new church plant.

5. What are the specifics of the budget for our ministry opportunities?

The ministry goals we are trying to fund through new giving fit under two major categories: Strengthen Goals  (improving things we already do), and Stretch Goals (new ministry). This section will only present year one amounts.

Strengthen goals center on Children’s and Student Ministry, community life and outreach. It amounts to $135,000 in year one:

  • Student Summer Missions and Summer Bible Camp. This is what we raise money for each year in the late spring. The amount is about the same as last year, $45,000.
  • Improvements to the Student Ministry area (explained below).  This is our largest commitment, $75,000 year one, of a $225,000 total needed.
  • We plan improvements to the concourse to expand our capacity for hospitality to members and guests. The cost of year one is $5,000.
  • Neighborhood outreach and community life. This gives greater investment to supporting connections with our neighborhoods and making deeper connections together as a whole church community $10,000.

Stretch goals are supporting St Moses, and investing in a new Resident Leader Program. This amounts to $235,000 in year one:

  • St Moses will get the majority of its support from Central members that move to St. Moses. This will move $150,000 from Central to St. Moses.
  • We have budgeted $50,000 additional mission support to St. Moses in year one.
  • The Resident Leadership Program is a new, developing plan to bring promising leaders to Central to learn and work on our staff part-time, and to serve needy churches with the bulk of their time. Costs would be shared by Central and the host church. Year one is budgeted at $35,000.

The goals above amount to $370,000 for next year (begins in July). This is a step of faith to which we believe God is calling us. We believe that with new support and careful management of Central’s own budget we can responsibly take on this challenge!

6. You’ve talked about controlling ministry expenses, yet there are new needs presented, like the refurbishment of the student ministry area and leadership development. Why?

Taking on a ministry challenge, such as the planting of a new church, doesn’t mean that we don’t have other new and exciting opportunities developing here at Central. As a healthy church we need to continue to grow.
When we built the new Worship Center we also did extensive repair and remodeling to other parts of the building. The one area that got no attention was the space (often called the Loft) that is used by student ministries. Hundreds of students use that space and it hasn’t been improved in any significant way for about 20 years. In addition the exterior of the building needs significant repair. The recent blizzard did more damage. The scope of repairs such as these exceeds the capacity of our normal budget, and yet good stewardship of our facilities requires that we address this soon. The importance of student ministry is widely understood at Central, and already people have been donating to support these needed changes.

We believe God also wants to expand the capacity of Central Presbyterian Church to develop leaders. Over the years God has used us to send dozens of people onto the mission field. Just in recent years we’ve seen Roberta Nagel, Barbara Rowe, Dan and Sarah Eberle, Robby Eckard, and Bethany Baker go out from us. And it’s not just the mission field; Andy and Eileen Gathman were sent out from Central and are now serving at Chestnut Grove Presbyterian Church.

We are also actively developing young leaders here at Central. Some current leaders will vacate positions of service to move on to St Moses, and those positions will be filled with trained, ready to serve leaders. National networks of churches are asking Central to join them in developing leaders for American churches. In addition, the Presbytery of Baltimore is open to us being a training center for pastors who are serving at some of our smaller churches. We want to be able to take advantage of those opportunities for the sake of the kingdom of God.

7. Will we get another fundraising push for summer programs?

No. We did not do a financial stewardship focus in November, as we often do, because we realized that a better time to talk about generosity and church mission was closer to the launch of St. Moses. This will also replace our April Student Ministry fundraising focus—everything will be in one budget and one event. Your generosity is essential to Summer Bible Camp and the student summer ministry mission trips.

8. Can I designate my support to one of these?

The card you have received gives only one category, for the total of your commitment. Central is making a commitment to moving forward on all of these important ministry goals. That being said, a note on the memo line, or a separate note sent with the gift can designate your gift to one of these ministries. Your gift designation will be honored.

9. Do I have to put my name on the "pulse check"card?

Why not? Unless you give only loose cash in the offering, our records (seen only by our financial personnel) already show what you give to Central. And God already knows. Only a very small number of people will see your commitment card, and it will never be used to track whether you live up to your goal, or to send you guilt producing reminders. Putting your name on the card is primarily for you: this is an important part of your spiritual life, and putting your name on the card emphasizes that reality.

If for some reason this is a big issue for you, please submit the card with the information, but without your name. This will still help us track Central’s progress towards 200 new active givers, and will allow us to estimate our future budget.

10. Where does Central’s support come from?

Our budget is completely funded by offerings that are given.  We depend on Christians responding to God with a cheerful generosity. “Each person should give what they have decided in their hearts to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 9:7)

Many churches have endowments. We have no outside income or endowments.

About half of our congregation provides 97% of the budget. What that means is that half of our congregation is not engaged actively in supporting our ministry.

11. What exactly do you mean by the terms Inactive, Casual, Active, and Avid givers?

Giving patterns are a lot like other patterns of healthy activity in our lives. When it comes to running or working out in the gym there are different categories that come to mind.

Inactive – People who don’t run at all. Perhaps inside there is a desire but they are unsure where to start or just lack the motivation to just begin.
Casual Runners – If invited, they would go for a run with a friend or maybe even on their own but, there is no predetermined plan to incorporate running into their everyday life.
Active Runners –  They have an intentional plan. They set goals. They pay attention to whether they’ve met their goals or not.
Avid Runners –  They don’t just have a plan, it is one of the joys of life. You can’t really understand their lifestyle without understanding that they are runners – or bikers, or swimmers.

When we apply that thinking to the spiritual discipline of giving it looks like this:

Inactive Giving- Didn’t participate in giving to Central.
Casual Giving- No official plan but open to occasional giving.
Active Giving- An intentional plan to move towards giving 10%, with Central as a priority.
Avid Giving- An intentional plan to give beyond 10%.

All age groups at Central are represented in all our categories of giving

12. What do you mean by "with Central as a priority" in giving?

One of the strengths of Central Presbyterian Church is the commitment of our members to active involvement and financial support of ministries throughout the Baltimore region and the world. It’s a wonderful part of our DNA. However, each of us has to wrestle with the balance of where we give our energy and financial support.

Our personal history, friendships, and passions go into shaping our financial commitments to ministries. We need to add to that an important theological consideration. And that has to do with the priority of the local church in God’s plan.

Jesus sent his followers to go and make disciples of all nations. They did that by planting local churches. Local churches are multi-generational communities where the word is preached, sacraments are celebrated, and people are taught to be mature followers of Christ.

But there is a second kind of ministry that overflows from the health and vision of the local church. These are the rescue missions, disaster relief organizations, campus ministries, and other ministries that are part of how the church impacts the world. We often call them para-church ministries, because they stand beside the church and do the things the local church can’t do as well. They do not have to be self-sustaining, and they are often focused on one age group or life situation.

Here’s the theological and practical point.

The first category, the local church, is primary. The para-church ministries depend on the prior existence of the church. That is where they get volunteers and financial support. And the local church is their spiritual home.

This is God’s plan. The local church has priority. We should have a plan of personal generosity that reflects the priority of the local church. For some people, they view the tithe, or the first 10% of their gross income, as their commitment to the local church. They then support para-church ministries from giving above and beyond that core giving. Your decision may differ. It’s not a matter of legalistic formula, but a matter of generosity and a proper balance. The important questions are: Am I being generous to the work of God in the world? Am I giving the local church priority in how I plan my giving?

13. What do you mean by "giving from the surplus"?

When we hear about a new need in the world, or new opportunity to give, it’s easy to think “That’s what I’ll do, when I make a bit more money.” But the fact is many of us can give in new and exciting ways without even really feeling it.

For example, taking the time to restructure our media and telecommunications contracts to fit our real needs and interests can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year. (If 100 of us renegotiated our contracts and saved an average of $50 a month that we then gave to ministry, $60,000 would be raised!) We could give those dollars to God’s work without even changing our lifestyle.

But changing our lifestyle, isn’t a bad idea, either! With a little self-control we can reduce the amount we spend on new clothes, eating out, or other monthly expenses. We can hold off getting that new iPhone for just another year. Choosing a different car could free up thousands. Moving to a less expensive gym membership can save a bundle. The possibilities are endless, and they differ for each one of us. But small changes add up. And it’s all giving from the surplus, not actually cutting into things we need.

14. What if I am already giving all that I can?

For some people at Central that is true, and we are grateful to God for your generosity and obedience. It is not our intention to make you feel guilty about that. But for the vast majority of people at Central, greater generosity is possible, and is a matter of choice and spiritual growth.

15. Does the church take online payments (debit cards, e-checks, etc)? Is it easy to give regularly?

Yes! Click Here and you will see all the different way you can give to Central. You can give electronically online and sign up to have it regularly deducted from the account you choose. It’s easy to start or stop.

Many of our active givers have arranged to have regular amounts deducted from their preferred account. If you have already been doing so for a few years and haven’t revisited the amount you have deducted, this would be a good time to do so!

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