Did you know that our denomination provides grants for smaller churches to use to purchase new technology?
The grants are provided by the Sustaining Congregational Excellence (SCE) program, which “is predominantly for smaller congregations in the Christian Reformed Church in North America. (A smaller congregation is any congregation that has 150 active professing members or less—based on data in the current Yearbook.)”
There are two main elements in the program—grants and learning events. In this article, I will focus on the grants related to technology. The deadlines for these grants is the first of every month, so the time to start your application is always...now!
Technology & Equipment Grants
The first grant is for Technology & Equipment—to provide funds for your church to purchase, lease or update technology and equipment, pretty much any kind of equipment that will assist your church in its ministry (maximum of $1000).
My own church has benefited from the Technology & Equipment grant with 2 new wireless microphones that a renting church received through grants and, more recently, with a new hearing assistance system that we applied for ourselves.
It does take a little work, but it’s not too bad for the benefit you receive. The application is attached to the web page. At the end of it is a list of 8 questions you are required to review. You don’t have to include the answers to those questions in your application submission, but you must specifically include the name and contact information of the person who reviewed them, and the date on which they were reviewed. Similarly, you are asked to provide the same information in regards to reading an instructive article called “Technology in Churches,” also linked on the website. Both of these resources will help you and your team determine whether the equipment you wish to purchase fits within the grant requirements.
The application submission itself includes some information which you may need to gather from those in the administration of your church, such as whether your church attends Classis meetings, how much of your church’s denominational ministry shares have been paid (10% minimum required), and whether your church participates in the denominational Minister’s Pension Fund.
The main question you’ll be answering is: “Please explain how the resource(s) will enhance the church’s ministry effectiveness and contribute to the health of the congregation. “
As the chair of our church’s worship and arts team, I headed up the preparation and submission of our technology grant request for funds to purchase an assisted listening system (equipment that provides enhanced volume to people with hearing disabilities—they listen to the service through earphones).
Our process started when we received an email telling us our church qualified for the grant. We discussed it at our worship and arts meeting and the sound technician in our group immediately suggested the assisted listening system because the one we had was old and missing pieces. I shared the application questions with the team and collected information. This included an estimate of the cost of the equipment and the store from which we planned to purchase it. I wrote a draft of our answer to the question of how it would enhance our church’s ministry and got input from the rest of the team to finalize it.
After that, it was just a matter of filling in the application form with all the collected answers, sending it to our Council for approval (another required item), and emailing it in. We heard quite quickly that we had been approved. Our sound tech purchased the equipment, gave me the receipts, and I sent those in for reimbursement. In our case our estimate was about $25 more than we ended up spending so the SCE administrator asked us to send another receipt for any other technology equipment, to make up the difference. (If the difference is more than $50, you need to send a refund check back to SCE.)
And now, thanks to these grant funds, our hearing disabled members and visitors can fully hear and participate in our service.
Technology & Equipment Training Grants
Technology isn’t much good to anyone without training. SCE also provides grants for members of smaller churches to receive training for equipment used in their church’s ministry.
The application is very similar to the technology equipment grant application discussed above. The maximum awarded in this case is $500. You’ll need to provide the name(s) of the person(s) taking the training, the organization providing the training, the estimate and also attest to the fact that the trainee is committed to completing the training.
Again, as with the Technology Equipment Grant, you will need to gather some administrative information, and then answer the same main question, except in relation to training: ”Please explain how the training will enhance the church’s ministry effectiveness and contribute to the health of the congregation.”
I hope that those of you whose churches qualify for these grants will apply. The effort is very worthwhile. As the question on the applications states, it’s all about enhancing the church’s ministry. This Sunday our church sang “You Are My King” with the refrain, “It’s my joy to honor you. In all I do, I honor you.” I praise God that our denomination helps us to honor God through technology.