Q. How do we fund the programs and activities of the denomination?
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 ministry shares, special offerings taken by the churches, contributions from individual donors, funds raised for disaster relief, and estate gifts. Among all these sources of gift income, the least understood is ministry shares.
This is a uniquely Christian Reformed revenue tool that has its roots in the very beginnings of the denomination. Early 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 a quota system, later renamed “ministry shares,” that was 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 cannot be accomplished by individual congregations.
An important attribute of ministry shares is that there is little or no administrative collection cost. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2006, the denomination received more than $26 million in ministry shares.
To raise the same amount of money through the work of a typical fundraising organization would cost $3-4 million. Thanks to ministry shares, the CRC is able to spend those dollars on spreading the gospel.
- Ministry shares are requested from organized churches based on the number of active adult professing members. For 2006, the per-member rate averaged $280.08. While the per-member rate goes up each year, the increase during the last 10 years has actually been below the rate of inflation.
- Of the more than $66.5 million in gift income received by the Christian Reformed Church during fiscal year 2006, $26.2 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 4 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 specialized ministries.