The current health and economic crisis we all find ourselves in comes at a time when we are enveloped by another, different sort of crisis: a crisis of relevance faced by religious leaders, the faithful, and those increasingly on the margins of the church.

Does the Church matter anymore?

The answer for a growing number of people is that it does not, or not in any meaningful sense that would require adherence to the teachings and norms of a religion. For those formed by the truth claims of Christianity, this is indeed a crisis. And it is a crisis far more spiritual and existential—and significant—than the coronavirus.

As I reflect on our current circumstances, I think we have a unique opportunity to consider how we live out our mission. The shutdown forced by COVID-19 gives churches an opportunity to face this existential crisis with fresh thinking and creativity. Forced to step away from our routines, we are able to see—for those with eyes to see—other ways of ‘being’ and ‘doing’ church, new ways, means, and channels of being on mission.

But here is the question: will church leaders seize this moment and choose to come out of this crisis stronger and better than when we first entered it—stronger relationally, missionally, and financially?

Or will we let COVID-19 and the ensuing quarantine sink us deeper into irrelevance?


Professionally, I think a lot about mission and money. Over the last decade or so, I have actually come to like thinking about it, and I would encourage clergy and pastoral staff to think about both more.

Believe me, the people in the pews (and those not in the pews) are thinking about the latter all the time—and they need wisdom in thinking about it. Imagine if churches spent more time helping their parishioners be good stewards of their personal finances and not only about how they could give more of their time, talent, and treasure to the church. Both the individual and the church might have more savings than they do now and be better off weathering these leaner times. I certainly believe there would be more money to fuel our mission, and probably more devoted parishioners, too.


By mission I mean a lot of things, but I will simply say that mission is your organization’s purpose. It is your why, your what, and your how. It is the reason you wake up in the morning. It is the reason others are drawn to you and why they engage with you. It is also why they give to you.

Money, like a magnet, is attracted to missions that are clear, compelling, bold, relational, and, ultimately, worthy of support.

Acknowledging that every church has its own set of circumstances and personality, and that those in the trenches will be the best generator of ideas, the following nuggets of advice may stimulate church leaders’ thinking about how we can think more about mission and money and be ready to emerge stronger from this moment in history.

Thoughts for “Our Moment”

None of these ideas is a silver bullet, but each of them can play a role in making your church, your mission, financially and spiritually stronger both in the near-term and the long-term. Your job is to bring Jesus to His people. If your church is organizationally and financially healthy, you are better able to fulfill that most important mission.

This Friday, May 1 at 2:00pm Eastern time, American Philanthropic is hosting a webinar on “Mission and Money: Catholic Parish Funding.” Join me and pastors and church fundraisers around the country to discuss these ideas and how to strengthen your parish and navigate these difficult times.

I would love to discuss with you directly how you can improve your organization’s fundraising and organizational health. Please feel free to send me an email if you would like to chat further: