An interesting phenomenon developed during the Great Recession of 2008. Faced with sudden revenue decreases of 30 percent or more, some churches were forced to quickly make dramatic expense reductions. These churches reduced or eliminated multiple programs, ministries, and staff positions to avoid catastrophic cash flow deficits. In some cases, when the churches informed their congregations of the massive expense reductions, members remarked that the expense cuts had "no noticeable impact." Such perceptions on the part of congregations raised some interesting questions such as: How was a church able to reduce its operating expenses by 30 percent with no noticeable effects on the key elements of the church's activities? Was the church previously wasting that money? Why can't the church ordinarily operate with a lower level of expenses?
Church leaders should contemplate the answers to such questions as part of their overall evaluation of the effectiveness of the church's spending. They should also evaluate whether a particular program, activity, or initiative contributes to the church's mission and purpose before committing funds to it.