While engaged with churches across the country, I get the opportunity to work with some really outstanding people and organizations. Sometimes these people have resources and expertise I suspect my readers might value.
And that’s the case with Don Corder, Founder of The Provisum Group - an organization driven to assist pastors and leadership teams in the effective day-to-day management of the church. Don and I met while I was engaged with his church in a recent generosity initiative. His church is also a Provisum Group client, and they speak very highly of the assistance they receive from their partnership.
I had a recent conversation with Don to get a bit more information about the book and his work with churches. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: You recently wrote a book called Minding His Business - what prompted you to write it?
A: I wrote Minding His Business for one reason: To make pastors’ and ministry leaders’ lives easier by sharing 35 years of experience conducting business in and out of the Church. If you think about it, the people God calls to be pastors are usually creative, relational lovers of people. That person is more like an artist than an accountant. Yet, sometimes pastors are expected to have expertise in accounting, finance, marketing, web development and more. They are sometimes expected to be pastors and CEO’s. It does not happen in all churches but it does happen in many. It is a recipe for burn-out and failure.
Minding His Business is a business primer written specifically for churches and faith based charities, but written to the right side of the brain. The book is divided into 40 short, easy to read chapters and the content is written in parable and anecdote. On its pages you will read of church after church facing similar challenges, what was done to meet the challenge, and how it turned out.
Q: Tell me about the book and how it helps “make life easier” for those in ministry.
A: After years of helping churches all over the United States with their business administration, I kept seeing the same problems and challenges happening over and over again. I began to realize that there are very few “new” problems in the Church. There are just “new” people having the same “old” problems, usually for similar reasons and requiring similar solutions.
Minding His Business focuses on the 4 M’s: Money, Management, Marketing and Manpower. Each chapter presents a common challenge faced by churches and ministries, real life examples of how those challenges were met and a clear cut action step at the end. I promise any pastor or ministry leader who reads this book will find at least one thing (maybe many) that will make their life in ministry easier. In fact, I encourage church and ministry staffs to read the book together and ask one simple question about the chapter they just read: “Is this us?” Obviously, the answer could often be “no.” But when the answer is “yes”, the book, the real life examples and the action steps identified become a powerful catalyst for solving a problem that ministry might have been facing for a very long time
Q: What successes have you heard after ministry leaders have read this book and implemented some of its ideas?
A: I want to be humble here. The truth is, there are too many to recall. What I do hear almost always is how relevant the book is to problems and challenges churches and ministries are facing right now. I hear about pastors with tears running down their cheeks as they read the book; sometimes from laughing so hard sometimes from conviction. But the most common feedback I get about the book is how empowered pastors feel when they realize they are not alone and the problems they face are more often than not common and fixable.
Q: You are the founder of Provisum – tell us about the firm and your main objectives in helping church leaders.
A: The Provisum Group is a 501(c)3 that exists to take and keep “stones” out of pastors’ and ministry leaders’ “shoes.” I have a very high regard for pastors. These choice servants of God are called to make differences in the lives of people that are eternal. Over and over again I have watched pastors and ministry leaders suffer under the pressure of leading the business affairs of the church; an endeavor for which many pastors and ministry leaders have little experience and even less formal training.
The Provisum Group’s bonded and credentialed staff takes the guess work and risk out of church administration. We are experts in accounting, finance, clergy compensation, IRS compliance, information technology, marketing, communication and database administration all in a church and ministry environment. All our work is done virtually. We have clients throughout the United States.
Q: What are the 2-3 main organizational problem areas you see churches facing today, and how does Provisum help churches overcome those problems?
A: The two things I see over and over again is general lack of accountability and business expertise. Churches have a tendency to delegate business functions to volunteers or staff members, many of whom are under-qualified. A youth pastor with a zeal for technology probably does not have the same level of expertise as a commercial web developer who fully understands cyber security, PCI compliance and database integrity. A volunteer who earns her living as bank branch manager, may not have the same experience as a full time bookkeeper. A bookkeeper probably does not have the same experience as a CPA that specializes in clergy compensation and non-for-profit compliance.
While the price of giving a staff member two jobs or using an under-qualified volunteer is low, the cost is usually high. How many people have not met Christ because the church they visited did not ensure that they were contacted or nurtured after the visit? How many people have not come to your church because when they went to the web and typed in “churches ‘your town’” did not land on your web page because your “volunteer” did not understand search engine optimization and search engine relevancy algorithms?
“The low price of a volunteer is usually forgotten when compared to the high cost of opportunity lost for the lack of expertise.”
Q: Give us an example of how you are helping a ministry more effectively manage their business – what does it look like?
A: First and foremost, in most cases we just cost less. We are very efficient at what we do and ministries only pay for the services they use. So churches who can only afford a few hours a week of a bookkeeper’s time can now work with the same skilled and experienced professional every week. Many churches don’t realize that they are over-paying for services they use every day. They don’t have the benefit of knowing what churches all over the nation are paying for the same service(s). In one state where we have clients, pastors are not required to pay city or municipal income taxes. The Provisum Group knew to ask if pastors were required to pay local income tax because several other states we work in do not require the payment of those payroll taxes. All of our clients’ pastors in that state got refunds for 4 years of over payments.
For another church, we pay their bills. One of our CPA’s got a property tax bill for this client. So the CPA asked the question “Why? Churches don’t pay property tax.” Well that church moved to a new property about 8 years earlier and no one ever filled out the paperwork that would have made the property exempt from property tax. Not one of the volunteer bookkeepers over the eight years gave it a thought and just paid the property tax for all those years. We checked into it and that church got a six figure refund from the state.
Q: How does it work?
A: It’s all done virtually. The internet is a powerful tool that allows us to provide via the internet, almost all the services performed by a fulltime church administrator and his/her staff. From accounting and finance to marketing and communications, the Provisum Group has a team of seasoned and experienced professionals waiting to make the lives of pastors and ministry leaders easier.
We start with a 3 step process to assess the needs, desires and capabilities of a church or ministry. Then we work to create a custom solution designed to create the most impact at a ministries point of greatest need. Once in engaged, working with the Provisum Group you will have an entire staff of people dedicated to turning your vision into reality at a surprisingly reasonable cost. Check us out at www.TheProvisumGroup.com.