Dr. Glenn Miller, host of the Leadership and the Church podcast, and CEO of Miller Management, is joined by his colleague Eric Burger, Executive Director at Shelter KC.
This month’s topic is a deep dive into “How to Balance Faith with Stewardship.” Our first episode in the series was defining both Faith and Stewardship. Part 2 was an interview of a school going from in-debt to building a new campus. Followed by, part three a transition story from a seminary. Today, we get to hear the final example of that balance played out.
When Mr. Berger started at this organization only three years ago, they were in significant financial distress. Now, they are in the midst of a Capital Campaign to upgrade and expand their facilities.
Shelter KC’s passion, states the Executive Director, is reaching people for Christ and sheltering the homeless. But if it’s all passion, your finances won’t be able to keep up. Likewise, if you have funds but no passion, that’s when ministries have problems. Growth should be happening in both passion (faith) and funds (stewardship) which sometimes can be seen in conflict of each other, but they shouldn’t be; both are necessary.
Faith: We’re Not in the Extreme Sports Game
When the host asks what happens when we only look at the side of faith alone? Our guest asked if we were playing extreme sports. Should we keep testing God, even though he has given us tools and principles? The people that Shelter KC serves are often in economic distress themselves. Eric points out, “If we’re not the example of stewardship in balance, how do we expect them to do the same thing?”
Stewardship: Data is Your Friend
Sometimes you need fresh eyes. The data is there, but we need to look at it. Their ministry needed to look beyond the cash, and zone in on active donors. The first time cash got tight for the shelter, their fundraising budget was the first to go. But as our guest states, “If we’re not investing in sharing the message of what God is doing, and giving people the opportunity to give; but pulling back from that, you’ll be out of balance, and out of whack.”
When asked about how to effectively steward your money, our guest said that you need to evaluate what is important. Do you have a return of investment? Run your campaigns, but track your results so you know if your strategies are effective. To make smarter investments with your resources. When you’re tracking, or when you don’t have tons of cash, you may have to reevaluate what you thought was going to work, but just isn’t. It also requires us to be flexible and nimble. Cater to your constituents by using the tools you have available. But the message must be good. “If I’m using the technology, but I’m not faithful to the scripture, that’s not going to get me anywhere.” says our guest.
“We want to share Christ with the homeless, so they can have victory.” – Eric Burger, Shelter KC
Our host asked our guest how they embraced the process of realigning the organization, while invoking stewardship. Our guest answered with, “Most of those changes we would have made…the economics made it so we had to do it then.” Their clientele were changing as well. Services had to change – they actually needed to increase. So the way things were done had to change.
They found that they could merge jobs so they could actually increase pay for staff. They reevaluated where staff were serving and where they could serve. If the heart was there, the Shelter could provide the training and mentoring necessary. Which is a key factor to their staff’s success. Their staff work in hard situations each day and they noticed that people wanted that mentoring, especially their younger staff.
Deficit budgets to breaking even to a capital campaign for expansion.
They aren’t the biggest shelter in the area, but they are relational. They know the names of their clients. What they can do is create smaller niches inside their capital campaign to specifically help their clientele better.
- “If you don’t have a functioning team, then going through a challenge becomes a real problem.” Otherwise, they could be second guessing your motives or vision.
- The ability for everyone to know the financial situation of the mission is key. They can know when you are crisis or when you can invest in your team. And specifically know how to prayer for the organization.
- A lot of times leaders want to keep the financial burden to themselves. But the clarity that comes with transparency in the tough situations is the beauty that comes when they get to celebrate with you also.
- “A plan that needs to be adjusted is better than no plan.”
- “Outsourcing sometimes is the more effective way. How much of the team would I have to hire versus you have these experts is different areas that I can use as I need and only have to pay them when I use them. That has been a part of this realignment.”
– Eric Burger, Executive Director, Shelter KC
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Special thanks to our guest, Eric Burger, and our master of all things podcasting, Chris Miller, for this fourth episode in the Balancing Faith and Stewardship series.