A Giving Strategy for Churches

A Giving Strategy for Churches

Helen’s Headlines

Management, governance and individual resources with a personal touch

Time Management and Personal Organisation, by Helen Calder, was peer-reviewed by Wayne Kirkland (Naenae, Lower Hutt, New Zealand)

Many churches struggle with balancing the books and with inspiring their congregation about giving. This eight point approach was developed in two large churches in the UK. It emphasises the importance of a vision and mission for the church that is understood and owned by the congregation.

Many churches rarely mention money in their sermons or in their communications until there is a financial crisis. At that point they often only talk about the deficit, rather than inspiring the congregation with the vision and mission that together they are engaged in.

In my experience every church needs a joined up plan, a jigsaw if you like, which integrates several aspects of the church’s activities. I call this a strategy for giving. Each church needs to develop and implement its own customised giving strategy. This can be based on the strategy and the methodology for developing and implementing a strategy explained in this resource.

It’s important to recognise at the outset that giving isn’t just about money, it includes time, talents, practical service and prayer. In any congregation there will be those who are “richer” in some aspects of these than in others.

An eight point giving strategy includes

  1. ​An agreed Vision for the church’s mission within & beyond the local area, which is owned by the congregation.
  2. Regular Prayer for the vision and mission of the church, to include prayer for this to be fully resourced, both financially and practically, and trusting God to provide.
  3. Biblical Teaching about generosity, money, good stewardship and giving. The giving aspect should always be in the context of giving as part of Christian discipleship, to provide for the church’s vision and mission. It should also explain the responsibility of members of the church family to support the church financially whilst acknowledging the giving of time and talents as equally important.
  4. Practical Education about how to give (including tax effectively) and about money management. This can be through testimony and practical explanation in a church service, as part of a discipleship course, through articles on the church website and in a magazine. An information sheet, the availability of advisers at the end of some services or separate training events may also be helpful.
  5. Regular Communication inspiring the congregation about the church’s vision, as well as raising awareness of the financial resources needed to deliver that vision and mission. The latter delivered in a simple and interesting way which demonstrates that funds are well managed and that the budget prioritises the ministries in the church vision.
  6. Regular Feedback & thank yous. This engages people: inspire them with the outcomes of the activities that have taken place such as: an evangelism course, the homeless shelter, the food bank, the children’s holiday club, the work of mission partners overseas, the Christmas services. Thank them that this is as a result of their giving, as well as their prayer and practical service. Update them (eg quarterly) regarding the income and expenditure for the year so far and how that compares with the amount needed to fulfil the vision and mission for the full year.
  7. Providing Opportunities to pledge and to give, as well as a variety of ways to give. There need to be plenty of opportunities which could include an annual pledge day or membership day at the start of the calendar and/or financial year, gift days for specific projects as well as a thanksgiving prayer (for all that has been given by whatever means) at every service. In addition collecting cash, cheques and charity vouchers at services, online giving, text giving, direct debits and/or standing orders should be available.
  8. A competent Finance team to oversee and undertake the practicalities. This will include setting a budget for the year with a “balanced portfolio” across different aspects of the church’s ministry and mission.

Six steps for developing and implementing the strategy

Here are a series of steps to help you develop and implement your tailored church giving strategy.

1. Engage the leadership team (PCC, elders, diaconate or ministry team) in discussion to ensure they understand and support the church’s vision and so that they buy into all the aspects of the giving strategy (or to developing one) and to the method of implementation.

2. Use an interactive approach to obtain feedback and to facilitate the cross fertilisation of ideas. With a larger group (such as a church council) it may help to use a structured conversation process (known by some as a World Café) for opinion and information sharing in which small groups discuss a series of topics at several tables, each with a well-briefed table host. People move tables every ten minutes or so and are introduced to the previous discussion at their new table by the table host. The host records the comments, questions and ideas on flipchart paper on the table for all to see.

Here are some suggested questions you could use, grouped by 4 themes which link to the strategy:

Vision, Mission & Prayer

  • What is (or should be) the church’s current vision and mission?

  • What would help church members understand and own the vision and mission better?

  • How can the church community pray more effectively about its vision, mission, activities and finances?

  • Finance & Giving strategy

  • What’s good about the proposed giving strategy concept that’s been outlined?

  • Is there anything you’d add to the giving strategy for this church?

  • Is there anything you think should be removed from the giving strategy?

  • Should anything be done to strengthen and support the church finance team?

Finance & Giving strategy

  • What’s good about the proposed giving strategy concept that’s been outlined?

  • Is there anything you’d add to the giving strategy for this church?

  • Is there anything you think should be removed from the giving strategy?

  • Should anything be done to strengthen and support the church finance team?

Preaching, teaching & practical education

  • What topics around money, giving, generosity and stewardship/trusteeship does our congregation need preaching and teaching on to help them in discipleship?

  • What other ways could we practically educate our congregation about:

    • Their use of money

    • Giving

Communication, engagement, raising awareness & opportunities

  • How can we raise awareness & increase congregational engagement with:

    • The church’s vision and mission.

    • The annual budget in the context of the vision & mission.

    • Current income levels, the financial forecast for the year and where appropriate the need to increase income/giving

  • What opportunities and practical means might facilitate an increase in giving?

Of course you may also like to ask all church attendees to answer these questions, perhaps undertaking an on-line survey using Survey Monkey www.surevymonkey.co.uk

3. Ask each facilitator to write a summary of views and suggested actions from all that’s been discussed on their theme. This should be given to the person or team tasked to develop the strategy. The answers will be different in every church.

4. The feedback is worked into a draft implementation plan or several plans (one for each of the discussion themes) by the person or ideally a small working group tasked to develop the giving strategy. The tasks identified will need to be prioritised. Each plan should have a champion and the plan will show tasks with the name of the person undertaking on each task and a suggested completion date. Tasks can be shared between ministers, treasurer, other members of the leadership team, church staff and congregation members, as relevant to the particular setting. NB The exercise may identify that the congregation (and even some leaders) aren’t clear about the church’s vision and mission or there may not be one in place yet. This is the priority before giving can be addressed.

5. The giving strategy and implementation plan is reviewed by the church leadership, then edited as appropriate, before being affirmed and approved by them.

6. The champions implement the tasks in the plans and report progress to the church leadership for example at leadership team meetings or church council meetings at appropriate (eg quarterly) intervals.

Intended Outcomes

  1. The congregation understands and owns the church vision and mission.
  2. The congregation is better informed and better educated about money and giving, including their responsibility to give and how to go about it.
  3. The congregation is inspired to give and use the opportunities provided to increase their giving.
  4. The church is able to fulfil its vision and mission more effectively.
  5. God, as ultimate provider, honours the prayers and giving of His people.

Signposts

Helen’s Headlines are short resources with a Christian ethos

Produced by Helen Calder, Helen’s Headlines are short resources with a Christian ethos for anyone involved in leadership of a Christian charity or church, especially smaller ones. With 40 years of experience, including 17 years as executive director: finance and services at the Evangelical Alliance, Helen is well-placed to share the lessons she has learnt during a career in industry and the Christian charity sector.

Each resource introduces key points on a topic, often including a checklist for action and signposts to more detailed information on the subject. They cover aspects of the following areas: governance, strategy, management and leadership, money, personal matters and end of life.

All Helen’s Headlines resources are available for anyone who finds them useful. This includes trustees, staff and volunteers of charities and churches, as well as individuals.

Parry Field Lawyers Legal Handbooks for Churches

Parry Field Lawyers Legal Handbooks for Churches

Parry Field Lawyers started 70 years ago and have a proven track record. Our team of around 50 staff work closely together in the areas of Property, Commercial and Disputes.

We are based from Christchurch from where we work with clients across the country.

We specialise in the representation of churches, religious organisations, non-profit, tax- exempt organisations, including charities, charitable trusts, social enterprises, social welfare organisations, public and private schools, tertiary institutions, as well as organisations that support this sector.

The Christian Church has contributed so much to life in this country we love – Aotearoa, New Zealand. A lot of that work is in the community among the poor and disadvantaged and goes unacknowledged and unknown today. Many organisations also have Christian roots from seeds planted long ago. The historical legacy and ongoing positive contribution is substantial. Yet there has not been a handbook focused on some of the key legal issues for churches here – until now.

Planting or running a church is not without challenges. The exciting prospect of facilitating the gathering of believers comes with a number of important considerations, many of which touch on complex areas of New Zealand Law. Having a properly established legal structure and system of governance, as well as an understanding of financial, employment, governance and key policy obligations will give a church the best chance at succeeding.

This handbook is one example of our “Impact Initiative” which aims to help church ‘planters’ and existing churches alike. Accordingly, the handbook is split into several key sections. We look first at the key legal decisions and considerations that need to be made when church planting, consider relevant aspects in the day to day operation of an established church, look at contentious issues and consider the future. Of course, even some long established churches may need to consider their own legal structure again (particularly if they start new initiatives) and consider if it is still the best model today. We have also included a section on social enterprise, which is a different concept on the role of trading business as a means to help advance good in the world.

As part of our impact initiative to empower people doing good, we have many other free resources that you may find helpful at www.parryfield.com. A unique offering is also seeds, a podcast about purpose with interviews of more than 100 charities, not for profits and social enterprises. In addition, we have released the free eBook ‘Social Enterprises in New Zealand: A Legal Handbook.’

We are trying to empower people like you to succeed and hope this publication will help you to consider and resolve any common legal issues and uncertainties you may find when establishing and operating your church. We wish you all the best in whatever stage of the journey you are at.

We look forward to connecting with you to see if there are ways our team can support yours.

Parry Field Lawyers
Christchurch & Hokitika
New Zealand

A Giving Strategy for Churches

Time Management and Personal Organisation

Helen’s Headlines

Management, governance and individual resources with a personal touch

Time Management and Personal Organisation, by Helen Calder, was peer-reviewed by Millie Campbell

Many of us struggle to use our time effectively and this is invariably linked to our personal organisation at both work and home. This resource aims to equip you with tips and techniques to help you organise your time better. It recognises that there are strong links between your personality type and the time management approach that will work best for you. It also recognises that family, home, type of work and so on will shape the best approach for you. So pick and mix from the palette of tips and techniques below to fit your own personality and lifestyle.

Whether you use your memory, paper or electronic devices, the same principles will apply. Picking even one or two tips or technique from this resource and putting them into practice will help improve your life! Over time come back to this resource and add some more tips as you go on building your own tailored approach to time management and personal organisation.

As Christians we have a responsibility to use our time well: to worship, to serve, to be in relationship with others, to take recreation and rest. It’s important to be intentional: to be clear about our calling and priorities and to exercise some level of planning and time management.

Zig Ziglar https://www.twenty20.com/photos/aa9b3330-355c-4e73-ac4d-fccf85f0247e/?utm_t20_channel=bl

This resource is for:

  • Anyone who feels the need to improve their time management and/or personal organisation.

  • Anyone who feels they don’t have enough time.

  • Anyone who’d like to “audit” how they are doing on time management and/or personal organisation.

Rhythms

Some of us are better than others at managing our time. Some like a more structured approach than others. We each need to find a rhythm that works well for us, which allows both flexibility and a measure of discipline. Following a daily, weekly, and or seasonal rhythm can help us manage our time better, increase productivity and effectiveness.

The most important thing is finding a rhythm that enables you to look after yourself, flourish, fulfil your commitments and achieve your goals. The section below on planning and allocating your time may help you develop your own daily, weekly or monthly rhythm.

Setting priorities and goals

Setting priorities and goals is a great way to help you increase productivity. More importantly it can help you use your time effectively, including providing clarification for which opportunities to accept or decline, and ultimately lead to a fulfilling and purposeful life.

  • Invest some time: it could be a few minutes, an hour or a full day to clarify in your own mind and before God what your personal priorities are for your life (you might want to describe this as calling)as well as for the year ahead. You may prefer to call them goals, aims or vision. This will help you again and again to make wise choices about what you do and don’t do.

  • Write down your long-term (life), mid-term (annual) and short-term (weekly or monthly) goals. Keep them somewhere you can refer to them frequently.

  • Refer to them regularly as you plan your time so that you are clear about your priorities for that day, week or month. It will help you choose which appointments to accept and which activities to do. If you like structure, you may even like to set aside time in your diary for this task.

How we use our time

We are leading increasingly busy lives. Most of us will have to schedule in appointments, meetings, tasks and activities. The key is learning to wisely prioritise and allocate time for them. Your priorities and schedules will depend hugely on whether you’re a student, a parent with a young family, someone with a demanding job, someone who volunteers extensively or someone who isn’t in paid employment. You may be more than one of these! Here are some of the activities which may make up your day, week, month or year. As you’ll see, they aren’t all relevant for everyone.

  • Christian faith: personal devotions, church services, home group, retreats, conferences and events.

  • Daily and weekly living: getting up, going to bed, meal preparation, eating meals, work, childcare, shopping, admin, finances, cleaning, gardening, repairs, maintenance, laundry, ironing.

  • Serving others: family responsibilities, church responsibilities, charity and voluntary organisations, community involvement.

  • Social and Recreation: family time, partner time (maybe a date night), friendships, sports and exercise, mental stimulation, hobbies, entertaining, theatre, film, concerts, travel.

  • Rest and relaxation: sleep, naps, self-care, reading, watching TV, holidays.

  • Monthly and annual: scheduling holidays and trips, tax returns, spring cleaning, birthday celebrations, Christmas preparations.

You may find the time planner below helpful to review how your time is currently being spent and how you might prefer to spend it. Click here open in another window to save and print

Planning and allocating your time

In practical terms it helps to regularly look at your calendar, appointments and tasks. Figure out a system which works well for you. You may choose to do this daily, weekly or monthly. Take a few minutes, at the start of the month, week or day to look at the appointments and tasks in your diary. Bring prayer into this activity and ask God’s guidance about how you will prioritise and spend your time. Here are some questions you may wish to consider:

  • What are your priorities? This will help you to work out what you may need to do.

  • Consider what is important, what is urgent, what is both and what is neither (more below).

  • How long do you estimate each task will take?

  • What are the activities that will give you a sense of purpose or achievement?

  • Are there some quick wins to give you a sense of satisfaction and some treats (activities not biscuits!) to reward yourself for the chores? (more below).

  • Don’t forget the invisible diary: all those things that take our time for which we don’t have specific appointments. They may be tasks you do every day. Make a list of tasks that need to be done “sometime” and then plan when to fit them in. The lists above under “Allocating time” may be helpful.

  • If you are a person who likes lists make them, these are as valid outside work as in it.

  • You may need to find ways to say “NO”, to filter out the low priorities (more below).

Urgent and important?

As you plan and prioritise tasks consider whether you have the balance right and what could you leave till tomorrow or next week or next month?

  • What’s important and urgent… this is a priority today or this week and should take a significant part of your time.

  • What’s important but not urgent… you need to plan time for this before it becomes urgent!

  • What’s not important but urgent… beware spending too much time on these activities.

  • What’s not important and not urgent… are these necessary at all? If something is, then strictly limit your time on it.

Quick wins and balancing goals

Many of us (especially those who are achievement orientated) need quick wins to keep ourselves motivated or to demonstrate to others that we are making progress. So it’s worth making sure that you balance:

  • Short term tasks to be met in minutes, hours or days.

  • Medium term objectives to be met in weeks or months.

  • Long term aims to be met in a year or more.

Setting boundaries and saying “NO” well

Invitations to events and meetings, as well as to undertake tasks, whether they are work, social or for voluntary service, are often flattering, but that doesn’t mean you should say yes.

  • Ensure the absolute priority tasks and meetings are recorded in your “diary” (calendar or time planner) well in advance.

  • How does the request or invitation fit with your priorities (either at work or home)?

  • Normally (I’m tempted to say never!) accept major commitments on the spot. It can be helpful not to carry your diary with you or to explain you need to check the invitation or request with colleagues or family before confirming.

  • Don’t give time because you feel a sense of guilt at saying no.

  • You don’t have to give a reason why you are saying no.

  • Sometimes it’s appropriate to decline what’s being asked of you, whilst offering an alternative that’s more appropriate/acceptable/manageable for you.

  • Try writing down 10 ways to say NO without using the word.

Quality Time

Quality time is usually when we are relaxed and not distracted, anxious or tired. We need to carve out quality time with God, for ourselves, with our partner, with our children (if we have any), with other family members, with close friends and with people we may be trying to support.

You are unlikely to be able to give quality time to others unless you allow some quality time for yourself!

  • Quality time should be a priority.

  • Quality is more important than quantity

  • Plan in quality time for yourself and others daily, weekly, monthly and annually.

Great Expectations

Realistic expectations can usually be dealt with effectively in a reasonable amount of time; unrealistic expectations can never be dealt with in any amount of time!

We all have expectations of ourselves. However, some of the following may lead to an over hectic lifestyle:

  • A false expectation that God will somehow supply our deficiency of time.

  • Internal voices eg the boss, a parent, the minister, urging us on.

  • Projection of non-existent expectations from others.

  • The need to succeed or achieve.

  • Mistaking weakness for humility.

Take some time to reflect on any unrealistic expectations that you have of yourself or that you feel others may have of you. Consider, discuss and pray about how these can be changed, ideally with someone else.

Managing your diary

Who is controlling your diary?

  • We all need somewhere to record our appointments whether it’s a paper or an electronic diary.

  • Diaries need to be the slaves rather than masters. We need to control them; rather than them controlling us.

  • Set yourself realistic expectations and timescales.

Dealing with Paper

For most of us there is still some paper in our lives, particularly for those in desk based jobs. Wherever possible deal with paper only once. I have a set of plastic folders, one for each project or activity and a set of stacking trays which minimise space and help prioritise tasks and time:

  • Have an action folder or tray for urgent and important tasks. Check and action it daily.

  • Have a pending folder or tray for non-urgent but important matters. Check it weekly.

  • Have a brought forward folder or tray for papers required on a specific date. Write the date required in the top right hand corner and put in chronological order. Check it daily or weekly and put the coming day or week’s papers in your action tray or folder.

  • Have a reading folder, tray or pile and schedule a regular time for reading.

  • Have a dustbin folder or tray for non-urgent items. Allocate a limited amount of time to check and action, say monthly. Bin without action where appropriate and definitely it something has been sitting there for several months.

  • Papers that have been dealt with should be filed or binned.

Is it time to sort your paperwork at home or work into a new scheme?

Is there a way you can reduce paper by dealing with more tasks electronically?

Dealing with emails and electronic folders

How many emails are there in your inbox? What is their status: unread, needing action, need to be stored for future reference, completed or could be deleted?

A similar scheme to the one outlined above for paper can be adopted for emails and electronic folders, including:

  • Wherever possible read and action emails only once.

  • Set up folders and use flags for reminders and priorities.

  • Only keep unread messages in your inbox.

Matrices and tables

A table or a matrix is a great way to summarise and to share information clearly. They are particularly useful when comparing options against criteria or looking at availability for a meeting.

Grouping tasks

It’s normally more efficient to do similar tasks together eg phone calls, emails, photocopying.

Making lists

Some of us live by lists whilst other hate them!  Keep all your lists, electronic or paper, in one place on your phone or tablet or in a paper notebook.

Online Tools for personal organisation and time management

  • Wunderlist is an easy way to get stuff done. Whether you’re planning a holiday, sharing a shopping list or managing multiple work projects. This simple, yet effective app allows you to set up task lists which you can share with others. https://www.wunderlist.com/

  • Slack is a cloud-based chat room designed to replace email as your primary method of communication and sharing. Mainly used in a work context, you can organise communications by channels and share information, files and more in one place. https://slack.com/intl/en-gb/

  • Trello is a cloud-based task management and collaboration tool that organises your projects into boards. With one glance, you can see what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and the current status. https://trello.com

  • Microsoft OneNote is for free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration. It gathers users’ notes, drawings, screen clippings and audio commentaries. Notes can be shared with other OneNote users over the Internet or a network. https://products.office.com/en-gb/onenote/digital-note-taking-app

  • Microsoft To Do helps you manage, prioritise, and complete the most important things you need to achieve every day https://todo.microsoft.com/en-gb

  • G Suite includes cloud-based productivity, organisation and collaboration tools. These include calendars, contacts, file storing and sharing and task lists. They are designed to work synergistically and easily share information with others. https://gsuite.google.co.uk/intl/en_uk/

  • Doodle poll is great for scheduling both personal and work meetings that involve several people. It can also be used for surveys, questionnaires and booking appointments. https://doodle.com/free-poll 

  • Survey Monkey is a free and simple way to undertake surveys https://www.surveymonkey.com/

Meetings, meetings, meetings

Some of us find our working hours ruled by meetings. Some may even find meetings invading the rest of their life if they’re involved in a charity or church leadership. So it’s worth asking:

  • What’s the purpose of the meeting?

  • What’s an appropriate frequency for it?

  • Why do I need to attend: What will I contribute? Would I be missed?

  • Do all the other participants really need to be there?

  • What might be done to reduce the time taken?

    • Does the chair keep everyone focussed? Do they need training?
    • Are all the topics on the agenda needed and is their purpose clear (discussion, decision, information)?
    • Would standing up shorten the meeting?
    • Does the meeting need to be face to face or could it be done for example on Skype, Zoom or a WhatsApp call?

Summary: banish time-wasting traps

  • Be clear about your calling and priorities.

  • Prioritise and plan.

  • Pray daily about what’s in your diary and listen for God’s prompting to change your priorities, tasks or appointments.

  • Learn when and how to say NO; don’t say yes straight away.

  • Ensure you’re giving focused quality time to each activity, rather than quantity time.

  • Prevent the unimportant tasks from eating up your time.

Signposts

Helen’s Headlines are short resources with a Christian ethos

Produced by Helen Calder, Helen’s Headlines are short resources with a Christian ethos for anyone involved in leadership of a Christian charity or church, especially smaller ones. With 40 years of experience, including 17 years as executive director: finance and services at the Evangelical Alliance, Helen is well-placed to share the lessons she has learnt during a career in industry and the Christian charity sector.

Each resource introduces key points on a topic, often including a checklist for action and signposts to more detailed information on the subject. They cover aspects of the following areas: governance, strategy, management and leadership, money, personal matters and end of life.

All Helen’s Headlines resources are available for anyone who finds them useful. This includes trustees, staff and volunteers of charities and churches, as well as individuals.

A Giving Strategy for Churches

Retreat Activities for Beginners

Helen’s Headlines

Management, governance and individual resources with a personal touch

Retreat Activities for Beginners, by Helen Calder, was peer-reviewed by Anne Douglas, Eremia Christian Retreat – Coromandel

Photo of Whangarei Falls footbridge by Tim Swaan - available from unsplash.com

Have you wanted to get away on retreat but not been sure how you’d use the time? Here are some simple ideas to help you. Find somewhere for the day, for a 24 hour overnighter or ideally to include two nights so you can include a full day.

No need to do all the activities below.

For the most part there’s no particular order.

Have a flexible plan.

Aim to spend a maximum of an hour on each activity,

though it’s fine to go on longer if you are finding something helpful.

1

Before you go ask a few trusted friends to be praying for you while you’re away: that you will hear God clearly.

2

Take time to settle in, find your room, unpack your things and take a stroll round the house and gardens to familiarise yourself with what’s where plus places and times for meals and any services.

3

Near the start of the time it may be helpful to journal/write in a notebook where you’re at. This could include: Questions for God, Decisions to make, Current challenges, how you are feeling.

4

Have a time of thanksgiving and praise to God for your life to date. You might like to record some of these in your journal too.

5

Sit in the sun, take a nap, pause regularly for a hot or cold drink.

6

Talk with someone on the team of the place where you are staying who can listen to you and pray for/with you. You may need to book a slot in advance.

7

Try a Bible word chase: using www.biblegateway.com search for Bible verses that include words like guide, guidance, direction, choice, faithful. You may like to add other words. Jot the verses that seem most relevant down in your journal. There may be promises you want to claim from God.

8

You might like to paint or colour the words of a particularly meaningful Bible verse or a relevant word e.g. future, new, direction. As you paint or colour be alert to what God may be saying to you.

9

Go for a walk beyond the grounds, maybe to the park or the beach. You may want to use it for a conversation with God or to focus on what you can see or hear or smell!

10

Take time to daydream about your dreams/aspirations, your heart’s desire. What do you think is the desire of God’s heart for you?

11

Allow time to sit quietly and listen to what God may be saying to you. Again you may like to write it down.

12

Keep some time at the end of your retreat to review what’s happened, reread what you’ve journaled, make a list/plan of anything you are now going to do and commit it to God, giving thanks to Him for this time out.

May God bless you as you take time out with Him.

Helen’s Headlines are short resources with a Christian ethos

Produced by Helen Calder, Helen’s Headlines are short resources with a Christian ethos for anyone involved in leadership of a Christian charity or church, especially smaller ones. With 40 years of experience, including 17 years as executive director: finance and services at the Evangelical Alliance, Helen is well-placed to share the lessons she has learnt during a career in industry and the Christian charity sector.

Each resource introduces key points on a topic, often including a checklist for action and signposts to more detailed information on the subject. They cover aspects of the following areas: governance, strategy, management and leadership, money, personal matters and end of life.

All Helen’s Headlines resources are available for anyone who finds them useful. This includes trustees, staff and volunteers of charities and churches, as well as individuals.

A Giving Strategy for Churches

Calling for a new phase of life

Helen’s Headlines

Management, governance and individual resources with a personal touch

Calling for a new phase of life, by Helen Calder

How?

This is something you need to find time to consider, probably over a period of time. It’s a process not an event. Be patient! It’s likely that some things that develop may be a surprise, others will be more obvious.

Be intentional, don’t end up with activities by default. Be ready to say no or not yet, give yourself time to consider offers and invitations to new activities and responsibilities.

You may like to take a  morning or afternoon (or several) to focus on this: sat in a chair in your home or garden, going for a walk, talking it through over coffee with a spouse or friend.

You may like to go away on retreat. See signposts below.

If it’s helpful use a journal to jot down thoughts, ideas and questions that come to you.

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What?

I’m not expecting you to do all of these, they are suggestions from which you can pick…

  • Reflect on your past and how you may have discerned your calling/made decisions about your future before

    • What have you enjoyed at work and outside work?

    • What motivates you at work and outside work?

    • How did you decide what and where to study, what career to take up, a change in career?

    • Was there a previous sense of calling or vocation? Were there any Bible verses or other phrases connected with that? Is this still relevant for your future?

    • What gifts, skills and experience do you have that you could continue to use and/or share?

    • What blessings in your life do you most want to carry with you into this new chapter?

  • What new contexts might there be for using your experience?

  • What are your dreams, the things you’ve never had time to do, hobbies you’d like to develop?

  • Are there new skills you’d like to learn?

  • Take time to pray, tell God your desires & ask Him to reveal His purposes to you for your next chapter

  • Ask your spouse, a prayer partner, your home group to pray for you over the coming weeks and months

  • What do you think God may be saying to you in this time of transition?

  • Ask your spouse or a longstanding friend what they could see you doing?

  • What would you realistically like your life to be like in 2, 5, 10, 15 years?

  • What might be the first steps to reaching those aspirations?

  • Is there anything you need to lay down or give up as you move forward?

    • What feels difficult to let go of: Responsibility? Status? People? Income level?

    • What would you like your life legacy to be? That is things that will continue to have an effect beyond the end of your earthly life

    • Try writing an epitaph.

Using a journal

This isn’t definitive, you may well have other ideas, but here are some suggestions:

  • A section which records anything you think God might be prompting you to consider as a result of your thoughts or devotional time. This could include a picture that comes to you or that someone else gives you, a Bible verse or strong impression in a sermon or talk or home group Bible study, an event that happens.

  • section on practical things to do/next steps

  • List current unresolved questions

  • List people you might use as sounding boards

  • Lists of possible activities for this new stage of life eg leisure, voluntary (including organisations you might like to volunteer with), paid.

  • Set some criteria for evaluating the possibilities

  • Evaluate some key options:

    • Pros & cons,

    • Questions and actions to pursue further.

    • Investigating a possibility further (eg starting a To-do list for the next steps) is often a good way to determine whether you should pursue it.

Signposts

Helen’s Headlines are short resources with a Christian ethos

Produced by Helen Calder, Helen’s Headlines are short resources with a Christian ethos for anyone involved in leadership of a Christian charity or church, especially smaller ones. With 40 years of experience, including 17 years as executive director: finance and services at the Evangelical Alliance, Helen is well-placed to share the lessons she has learnt during a career in industry and the Christian charity sector.

Each resource introduces key points on a topic, often including a checklist for action and signposts to more detailed information on the subject. They cover aspects of the following areas: governance, strategy, management and leadership, money, personal matters and end of life.

All Helen’s Headlines resources are available for anyone who finds them useful. This includes trustees, staff and volunteers of charities and churches, as well as individuals.

A Giving Strategy for Churches

Managing Stress

Helen’s Headlines

Management, governance and individual resources with a personal touch

Managing Stress, by Helen Calder, was peer-reviewed by Glyn Carpenter, former National Director of NZ Christian Network

A level of stress that gets adrenaline and cortisol going and brings out our best performance is healthy. However, in our 21st-century world, many of us experience undue levels of stress and pressure that make us feel overwhelmed and which need alleviating. It can be unhealthy and unhelpful if stress becomes chronic. The impact can be physical, mental, emotional, behavioural, psychosomatic and spiritual.

Our attitudes and responses to stress and how we address it will be influenced, amongst other factors, by our personality type and our cultural background as well as our age and gender.

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Recipe for addressing stress

Once we recognise that we’re overly stressed there are several things we can do:

  • Identify what’s causing the stress and where possible take action to deal with stressors and make ourselves less vulnerable. Some are self-induced while others are unavoidable. The latter may be reduced by pinpointing the root cause of the strain.

  • Find support for the situations faced. Studies show those with good support are less vulnerable to the effects of stress.

  • Find and practice some techniques to help relieve the physical, mental and emotional symptoms. This is the main focus of this resource.

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Techniques to help alleviate stress

Many people have their favourite techniques to help relieve stress. Here are some I’ve collected from friends and colleagues, many of which I’ve used myself.

1. Quick fix in a stressful situation

  • Pray, asking God to help you cope with the immediate situation.

  • Four by four breathing, also known as box breathing and by various other names. It’s a great way to calm both body and mind.

    • Breathe in to a slow count to 4 (or 5)

    • Hold breath to a slow count of 4 (or 5)

    • Breathe out to a slow count of 4 (or 5)

    • Pause to a slow count of (4 or 5) before repeating several times.

  • Remind yourself of the FEAR acronym: False Expectations Appear Real (sometimes presented as false evidence appears real). Often if we pause to think, the matter that’s stressing us is based on a false assumption or on expectations that we’ve assumed others have on us which are not necessarily true.

  • Stand back: what would be the implications if you didn’t do something (today? at all?). Can you defer the task to another day when you have more time? This can be so releasing.

  • How do you eat an elephant? Break it down into bite sized chunks! We are often threatened by the enormity of a task. However, if you can break it down into manageable tasks it becomes much more do-able and you may be able to take the first step.

  • Do the next thing: doing something is better than doing nothing. It will give you a sense of achievement and confidence to do the next thing.

  • If necessary ask for help right away from a trusted friend, colleague or family member. They have probably experienced considerable stress too at some time.

2. Introduce or reinforce in daily living

  • Make daily devotional times a priority: ask God to fill you with his Holy Spirit and equip you for the coming day.

  • Take moderate daily physical exercise as part of improving health and fitness.

  • Keep lists and regularly review priorities: what’s important and urgent, what’s important but not urgent, what’s urgent but not important and which is neither.
  • Take frequent breaks during the working day and book regular holidays in advance.

  • Tackle the complicated tasks when you are fresh and at the time of day that works best for you.

  • Flag potential problems in advance so that alleviating action can be taken by you and others.

  • Journal your concerns and thoughts.

  • It may be helpful at the end of the day to reflect in God’s presence on what’s gone well during the day and what concerns you about tomorrow. It may help to journal this. Then commit it to God in prayer. I’ve found it amazing how often yesterday evening’s concerns have not been realised! This is borrowed from the Ignatian Spirituality Examen exercise.

  • Review your sleep pattern and make changes if appropriate.

  • Develop a mutually supportive friendship where you can share life’s joys and concerns and prayer together. Introduce some “me” time on a daily and weekly basis where you can relax and choose what you think and/do. It could be as simple as doing in your walk to work, an evening soak in the bath or watching sporting highlights on TV.

  • Investigate whether the Alexander Technique may help you relax by adopting better posture: see https://www.alextechexpress.com/stress/ especially audio interview with Carolyn Nicholls and Sharon Jakubecy video.

3. When you can take a step back

  • Consider asking for professional help: be clear in advance what you hope the outcome of the help will be.

  • Take a short retreat (morning, day, overnight) to reflect on your situation and build this into your schedule two or three (or more) times a year.

  • Take a step back and consider your purpose and your priorities. Over time you may find it helpful to develop a personal mission statement (eg see Purpose Driven Life book signposted below).

  • Our self-worth affects our susceptibility to stress. Take the time (ideally on more than one occasion) to reflect on God’s sovereignty, your true worth to Him and ask Him to bring to mind any forgiveness that needs to be given or received in your life.

  • Consider how you can manage others’ expectations better.

  • Identify what’s causing you stress and make a plan to address those stressors.

  • Explore ways to make yourselves less vulnerable for the future.

Signposts to other resources

Helen’s Headlines are short resources with a Christian ethos

Produced by Helen Calder, Helen’s Headlines are short resources with a Christian ethos for anyone involved in leadership of a Christian charity or church, especially smaller ones. With 40 years of experience, including 17 years as executive director: finance and services at the Evangelical Alliance, Helen is well-placed to share the lessons she has learnt during a career in industry and the Christian charity sector.

Each resource introduces key points on a topic, often including a checklist for action and signposts to more detailed information on the subject. They cover aspects of the following areas: governance, strategy, management and leadership, money, personal matters and end of life.

All Helen’s Headlines resources are available for anyone who finds them useful. This includes trustees, staff and volunteers of charities and churches, as well as individuals.

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