What are ministry shares?
Ministry shares are a way in which each member of the Christian Reformed Church participates financially in the shared ministries of the CRC. Years ago, our churches 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. To live out this covenant, they assessed "quotas" as a means of raising the resources needed. The name was later changed to "ministry shares" to better reflect the purposes for which these funds are used. This program continues today. Money is collected by congregations and remitted to the denomination.
The system is a very cost-effective way of providing funds for ministry. That’s 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 money is divided among CRC agencies and institutions according to the budget that is approved by the Council of Delegates. Most of it — more than 85 cents of every dollar — goes directly into ministry programs: starting new churches, training pastors and leaders, supporting chaplains, resourcing congregations, and reaching out to our neighbors through media and evangelism. The rest helps to pay for denominational administration and fundraising expenses.
Do ministry shares pay for everything our denomination does?
No, but they are the foundation for much of it. Ministry shares provide about 40 percent of the budgets for our mission agencies, about 50 percent of the budget for Calvin Theological Seminary and about 80 percent of the budgets for pastoral ministries. They also support the work of the denominational office by funding a broad range of denominational and synodical services. Other sources of revenue include individual gifts, special church offerings and member bequests, as well as product sales (Faith Alive Christian Resources) and tuition fees (Calvin College and Seminary).
World Renew is not funded by ministry shares and instead depends entirely on individual gifts and bequests, church offerings, and government grants.
Who gets ministry shares?
Ministry shares support the work of:
- Back to God Ministries International
- Calvin College
- 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
- Race Relations
- The Office of Social Justice
- The Network
- Denominational and synodical services
Why don’t these agencies raise all their funds directly?
From its beginning, our denomination has covenanted to do ministry together. As synod decided to start new agencies or programs over the years, it used the ministry share program as a way of committing themselves and all of our churches to paying the costs. In this way, each initiative of the Christian Reformed Church has truly become 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 adminster. The same amount of gifts raised through individual donations solicited by fundraising staff would cost over $20 per $100 to administer.
How much should I give?
The formula is set by synod each year. For this year's totals, download the remittance form from the 'For Churches' page. It works out to about $8 a week.
What if some churches don’t pay their share?
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. As a result, several CRCNA ministries have had to cut back on valuable programs.
Is my church paying its share?
Ask your deacon, elder, or church treasurer. Some congregations faithfully pay their full ministry shares every year — even if they have to borrow the money. Across our denomination as a whole, however, the average has slipped to about 58 percent*.
(*This figure takes into account the reduction formula for smaller churches.)
For more information, please contact John Bolt, Director of Finance and Operations, at 1-800-272-5125.