March 28, 2024

Reframing Our Assets Blog – Part 4

In this new blog series on “Reframing Assets”, we hear how four churches adjusted their thinking about their finances after Covid – reimagining assets, uncovering riches beyond the balance sheet, and charting a new course for ministry. In 2019 these churches shared plans to repurpose assets for ministry. Now, they update us on the critical four years since then, sharing lessons learned, insightful examples, and practical strategies for financial adaptation, asset realignment, and visionary stewardship. Learn how they seek to breathe new life into their community and thrive amidst change.

This post is the fourth and last in a four-part series, which has examined how four different congregations have chosen to re-imagine their assets. You can find the other parts of the series here.

The ability to recognize assets beyond the church balance sheet – which typically looks only at financial assets and liabilities – has become an essential skill. Faith communities that can shine a light on their overlooked riches – well beyond their plate-and-pledge and endowments – can bring new life and new income to their ministries. And perhaps more importantly, congregations who can explore a new vision for “big picture” assessment and stewardship of their assets – with transparency, careful conversation, candor, and deep discernment – can find new life in a deeper relationship with both their assets and their community.

In the preceding three parts of this blog series, you saw how four congregations – Trinity Cathedral, Portland, OR; The Trinitys Collaborative (a partnership of Trinity Stoughton, MA and Trinity Canton, MA); and Trinity Cathedral, Trenton, NJ – began their process of reimagining their assets in 2019, and the wisdom they gained from their experiences. From the vantage point of four years later, you got a glimpse of the new future they’re moving toward.

Perhaps your congregation is considering “doing a new thing” that God has imagined for you. This checklist below offers ideas for discussion and brainstorming as a starting point. Please adapt these questions to your church's unique context and priorities. Engage key stakeholders, such as vestry members, endowment committees, your congregation, and community leaders, in the assessment process to gather diverse perspectives and insights. And cultivate transparency about your finances, your aspirations, and your willingness to collaborate with like-minded partners.

1) How well do our church's assets support our long-term goals and vision?
2) What is the status of our endowment funds, investments, and other financial reserves?
3) Are there any assets that are underutilized or not aligned with our church's core values?
4) How can we repurpose or renovate our real estate assets to create or supplement an endowment?
5) What assessments do we need to do of our building and our process to help us discern our best next step? How do we re-position our holdings so we have the assets that fit our mission now?
a. Re-purpose:
What would the cost (in terms of money, administration, relationships, etc.) be to re-purpose? Might the re-purposing generate income for the church?
b. Renovate:
How long is the life of this building projected to be before maintenance becomes a not-worthwhile expense?
c. Re-develop:
What are the economic prospects for the property we hold and how might the wider community respond to re-development? (Location! Location! Location!)
d. Sell
How might selling the property honor God and the congregation’s ancestors in faith?
6. How will we engage our congregation, local stakeholders, and community members in the decision-making process regarding our property and real estate assets?
7. Have we considered all our assets? Real estate; financial assets; physical resources; our church image; relationships with other churches, non-profits, and community organizations; the skills, talents, and gifts of our congregation members; partnerships within the community and beyond; how other people describe our church.
8. Are there opportunities for innovative funding models or socially responsible investment strategies to align with our values?

Perhaps these questions have already begun to trigger your imagination on how you can re-imagine your assets, benefit your endowment, and fortify your ministries. What’s your next step?

As we conclude this four-part blog series on “Reframing Assets,” the collective insight gathered in these stories underscores the value – especially in times of remarkable change – of proactive and reflective endowment management. Do you need to reassess church assets, navigate unplanned financial shifts, reframe mission-focused stewardship, or engage the broader community to strengthen the financial bedrock of your church?

Whether you have read the series from the beginning or just found the series, we invite you to revisit all four segments to fully absorb the wisdom shared and to consider how these insights can be woven into the fabric of your church's endowment management strategy. You can find the other parts of the series here.

Is your church exploring how all your assets can support your mission and ministry? ECF's Endowment Management program offers strategic guidance to transform church resources into sustainable support. Contact us at or call 800-697-2858 to redefine your endowment strategy with us.