What are ministry shares?
In 1862, Christian Reformed congregations recognized that some of the ministries to which Christ calls us can be difficult to do on our own. They covenanted to pool their resources in order to do more and greater ministry together. This system, still implemented today, is very cost-effective and is a big reason why the CRC is able to support a range of ministry programs that is unparalleled for a denomination of our size.
Where does the money go?
The Christian Reformed Church uses ministry shares to fund a variety of requested ministries both within North America and around the world. The vast majority of every dollar of ministry shares goes directly to ministry programs that start new churches, train servant leaders, support chaplains, resource congregations, and reach out to our neighbors through media and evangelism.
Do ministry shares pay for everything our denomination does?
No, but they are the foundation for much of it. Ministry shares provide about 34 percent of the budgets for our mission agencies (excluding World Renew), 31 percent of the budget for Calvin Theological Seminary and an average of 76 percent for various ministries that support CRC congregations. World Renew, which was started as an outreach of CRC deacons, does not receive ministry shares. Instead, World Renew was started with faith that the offerings raised through CRC deacons would fund its ministry. World Renew does not receive ministry shares.
Who gets ministry shares?
Ministry shares support the work of:
- Back to God Ministries International
- Calvin University
- Calvin Theological Seminary
- Resonate Global Mission
- Faith Alive Christian Resources & the Digital Library
- Faith Formation Ministries
- The Banner
- Worship Ministries
- Safe Church Ministry
- Canadian Ministries
- Chaplaincy and Care Ministry
- Disability Concerns
- Pastor Church Resources
- Office of Race Relations
- Office of Social Justice
- The Network
- Denominational and synodical services
World Renew is not funded by ministry shares and instead depends entirely on individual gifts and bequests, church offerings, and government grants.
Are ministry shares really a good way to raise money?
Yes! Ministry shares are an amazingly efficient and stewardly way for us to accomplish ministry together. Over the years, as synod decided to start new programs, we’ve used ministry shares as a way of enabling all of our congregations to contribute towards the costs. In this way, every initiative is truly part of our shared ministry.
In addition, fundraising is expensive. Without the ministry share system, our agencies would have to spend millions of dollars each year to raise the funds they need. Using ministry shares reduces these extra costs and allows more of every dollar given to go directly to ministry. The roughly $22 million of ministry shares contributed each year cost less than 20 cents per $100 to administer. The same amount of gifts raised through individual donations solicited by fundraising staff would cost over $20 per $100 to administer.
How much should my congregation give?
Right now, the formula for ministry shares comes out to about $7 per active member per week. The formula is set by synod each year. For this year's totals, download the remittance form from the 'For Churches' page.
If every CRC member and every congregation gave their whole amount, this would provide us with $37 MILLION for ministry impact locally and around the world.
Synod 2019 suggested a new method of continuing our covenant together. Instead of setting a specific amount per member, they recommend that each congregation prayerfully consider how much it can contribute towards our shared ministry efforts.
What happens if my congregation doesn't give?
Since this covenant program began in 1862, payment of the "assessments" and "quotas" by all the churches has always been an issue. Some churches simply do not have the financial means to contribute their fair share.
Synod has repeately responded to this reality by indicating that if one church could not or would not pay, it was up to churches in their regional classis to determine how the obligation was to be met.
In recent years, however, contributions to ministry shares has been declining and classes have not always filled the gap. Currently, churches are contributing less than 60% of the requested amount for ministry. This means that fewer funds are available for
- Supporting new church plants
- Producing new resources for children’s ministry
- Training new pastors and supporting those already in ministry
- Resourcing chaplains as they serve populations in crisis
- Producing resources to revitalize worship in congregations
- Equipping churches in abuse prevention, disability awareness, and racial reconciliation
- Sharing the gospel in new ministry fields
With the new system proposed by Synod 2019, ministry budgets will be set based on what is pledged from churches. If this amount is less than what is currently received, important ministry will need to be cut.
Is my church paying its share?
Ask your deacon, elder, or church treasurer. Some congregations faithfully pay their full ministry shares every year. Thank you!
Download a copy of Ministry Shares Explained to bring to your next congregational or council meeting.
For more information, please contact John Bolt, Director of Finance and Operations, at 1-800-272-5125.