Q. How do we fund our denomination’s programs and activities?
A. The agencies, institutions, and ministries of the Christian Reformed Church receive support 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 are ministry shares.
Ministry shares are a uniquely Christian Reformed revenue tool. 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 the ministry shares system that funds a significant portion of the mission work of the church that could not be accomplished by individual congregations as well as support for our educational institutions Calvin College, Calvin Theological Seminary, and various denominational services.
An important attribute of ministry shares is that there is little or no administrative collection cost. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2007, the denomination received nearly $27 million in ministry shares. To raise the same amount of money through the work of a typical fundraising organization would cost between $3 and $4 million.
Thanks to ministry shares, the CRC instead spends those dollars on spreading the gospel.
- Ministry shares are requested from organized churches based on each congregation’s number of active adult professing members. For 2007, the per-member rate averaged $289.88. 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 $66.3 million in gift income received by the Christian Reformed Church during fiscal year 2007, $26.8 million, or over 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 just over 3 percent at Calvin College (where the money is used to reduce tuition for students from CRC families) to more than 90 percent for some of the denomination’s specialized ministries.