Q. Why do we pay ministry shares, and how is that money used?
A. In the Christian Reformed Church we support our denominational institutions, agencies, and ministries from a broad range of financial resources including tuition, product sales, grants, and gift income.
Gift income includes gifts and contributions from individuals, as well as special offerings, estate gifts, funds raised for disaster relief, and ministry shares. Among all these sources of income one of the most important, though often the least understood, is ministry shares.
Ministry shares are a uniquely Christian Reformed revenue tool that has its roots in the very beginnings of our denomination. In the latter half of the 19th century, the first CRC congregations understood the need to stand together and support each other both spiritually and financially.
This sense of community led to the establishment of ministry shares (originally called “quota”) that were used to finance major investments such as Calvin College, Calvin Theological Seminary, various denominational services, and, perhaps most important, the mission work of the church that could not be accomplished by individual congregations.
It’s Cost Effective
An important attribute of ministry shares is that there is little or no administrative collection cost. To raise the same amount of money through the work of a typical fundraising organization would cost between $3-4 million. Thanks to ministry shares, the CRC can spend those dollars on spreading the gospel instead.
Not all the income received from churches is ministry shares. Most congregations also have special offerings for individual agencies and ministries. These funds are called above ministry share gifts.
While some congregations choose not to contribute the requested ministry share, many still contribute an above-ministry-share amount.
Ministry shares are requested from organized churches based on the number of active adult professing members. For 2005, the per-member rate averaged $266.09. While the per-member rate goes up each year, the rate of increase during the last 10 years has actually been less than the rate of inflation.
Of the more than $63 million in gift income received by the Christian Reformed Church during fiscal year 2005, $24.5 million, or about 40 percent, came via ministry shares.
All our denominational ministries, with the exception of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, receive ministry shares. The percentage of their annual budgets funded by ministry shares varies from less than four percent at Calvin College (where the money is used to supply tuition reductions for students from CRC families) to more than 90 percent for some of the denomination’s pastoral ministries.