August 2019 Brainstorming Session

8/26/2019 Supper Gathering Brainstorming Notes

Hold more events

Charge everyone (including members) to rent our space

Look at each expense to see if supports our ministry

Look at our income:

  1. Ask current givers to give more
    1. Increase the value of St. John’s to them—is it worth more than other things they purchase?  (pizza, cars)
  2. Get more people, who will give
    1. Membership is dwindling everywhere
    1. The next generation didn’t grow up in the church like we did, & don’t know what they’re missing (like helping to move out of apartment)
  3. More fundraisers

I give out of gratitude for what God has given me.

Look at revenue & expenses

Make church attractive to next generation

Amanda & Dennis used to attend First UMC in Portsmouth; came to St. John’s for Sunday School & youth group

Growth comes from these 2 groups:  kids bring their parents

Put sermon series, etc. in the news—might attract families

Pew pads—reach out to people who haven’t attended

Take care of our community & reach out to others

Why don’t End 68 Hours of Hunger families come to church?  Do we invite them?

Millenials & Gen X are our children & grandchildren

Maximize the money we give.

Cressy Road UMC in Maine & Bow Mills UMC in Concord have similar attendance to us, but their budgets are smaller:

Cressy Road UMC: average attendance of 113 & a budget of $235,816

Bow Mills UMC: average attendance of 106 & a budget of $208,869

St. John’s UMC has average attendance of 122 & a budget of $283,567 (with a deficit of $60,677)

Plant sale

Church fair

All-church project—everyone in the church gets involved

Lee UCC takes a booth at a local fair, & sold all their stuff in 3 days

Turkey supper is our most popular one.  Why serve anything else?

Ask:  What would make our church more relevant to you?

Ham & Bean suppers in the summer

Put solar panels on our church roofs

Stop printing the Bell-Wether (Have people pay for the paper, if they want it printed)

Stop printing so many Sunday morning bulletins

We have facebook

A Millennial’s perspective & LBGQUI+:

Valerie Avery’s husband works for a solar power company—he could help us

Cutting a little of the costs—ask our youth to help (mowing, trim hedges, etc.)

Plowing—members do?


Advertise Harvest & Holly Fair—fliers with coupons (for pies, white elephant) to public

Youth could design the fliers & hand them out

I miss the Pocket Lady (Janet W).  Give her a quarter to get prize from her pocket.

—not much for kids to do at the fair.

Other events:  Trivia Night—advertise to public

Movies on the screen in Hartford Hall

More Parents Night Outs

Youth Group fundraisers could go for the church

Attendance—reach out to the younger generation, especially our reconciling beliefs

People are surprised that I can go to this church.

Be represented at Pride in Portsmouth with our banner

We have fliers that we post all over Dover

Improve our advertisements for Jeff’s Singalong

Suppers—our group works very hard.  We need more people to donate (groceries) supplies for the suppers.  We spend a lot of our money on groceries.  We need more people to do the work. 

$6000 for snowplowing—probably need a professional to do this

$5,000 for mowing—maybe we could do that

Two part-time churches in Maine are working on the 8-month process to leave the UMC

Our apportionments are $43,000/year

Our $60,000 gap is very do-able. 

Sue & Mike will give $135/week in 2020.

It would take 43 similar pledges to meet the budget.

It’s not that big of a problem.

I pledge because I know that the church needs to plan.

We’ve learned that the more we give, the more we receive.

We can do baby steps toward tithing.

I love this church.

We are getting older.

I pass along fliers to military folk.

Community Resource fairs offer free tables—why don’t we tell what we offer?

We need to create memories for people who come.

My grandchildren tell their friends about how great St. John’s is.

Put a sign in your yard to advertise church events.

Our electric bill is $700/month.

We’ve had solar experts here before:  our sanctuary roof is not the right angle

But maybe the technology has changed?

Suppers:  revenue is up 3%, but expense is up 9%

$750/supper income

We buy groceries with church credit card to get a % back.

The intent of the unrestricted gifts was that it be spent to cover expenses.

We have EFTs

Coupon for free hot dog for kids (but charge for soda & chips)

Start a youth choir

Put in newsletter how much we brought in & how much short

Put sign out about suppers

I’m hearing a lot of human fatigue.  What can I do?


It takes a person to do.

Work smarter, as volunteers

Who are we trying to connect with?

I think we should only take 5% out of our investments & protect the “core.”

Do a capital campaign?

It would be cool if I had something to put in the offering plate, since I give via EFT.

I’m done being part of the problem.  We’re going to give more.

The signboards on the street islands restrict what we can do.

In Dover, we can only put out 12 times/year.

Our Strategy Team serves our congregation.  We provide information.  We are “servants to the servants.”  We are delighted by this grassroots movement. 

We are weary.  But we will keep up the good fight.

Knowledge is power.

Portsmouth went half-time 6 years ago.  They’ve now had 3 different pastors.

The garden—could we sell the produce at a local farmer’s market?  (It doesn’t produce that much.)

We are close to the High School—sell parking spots?

Coffee hour paper products—what if we put a family in charge each month of providing paper napkins, plates, if needed?

We should tithe our apportionments to the UMC.

We pay separately for pastor’s pension & health plan.

Designated investments cannot be used for anything else.

Summer suppers—too hot in the building for the workers.

Coffee hour—Jim Miller makes the coffee every Sunday! 😊

One of our members used to say that your pledges should cover your expenses, so your fundraisers are for other things.

Our church suppers bring in other people.

Other fundraisers provide income from us.

Stewardship is Lordship.

My prayers, my gifts, service, presence, witness.

In this church, a few wealthy men would get together & provide the money needed.

 News and Notes. Include cards

Share that folks were moved during the meeting to give more.

Other ideas from people who sent emails to Pastor Sue:

My idea is that the church is not a building – it is the people. Could we find another place to worship that might be more economical?

Put on pancake breakfasts or suppers.

1)  Use of hall should be paid for.  Whether they are a church member or not, the space should be paid for since the use adds to the electric/water bill.

2)  Seek out donations from area stores to make up some of the shortfall when it comes to supplies for the suppers.

3)  Post a list of people and their skills.  When someone from the church hires one of these people, 10% of what they get paid for their service goes directly to the church. (Example:  If someone wants to hire me to do a massage, 10% of the fee would go directly back to St. John’s.)

4) Why don’t we have signs/plaques at Abi’s Place and Hope on Haven Hill stating that the work was done/things were donated by the people of St. John’s (UM ARMY style)?  This would help spread the word about what we do and who we are and wouldn’t be an ongoing expense.  There might even be an area business that would donate the plaques

[Note from Pastor Sue:  Abi’s Place put a plaque that says St. John’s United Methodist Church” in 2 of the bedrooms.]

5)  Summer daycare (that is reasonably priced and viable timewise) using kids from the church who have been through babysitter training.  This again would be along the lines of pay the kids something ($7/hour?) and the rest goes to the church.  I don’t know if this could work legally or there would be too many obstacles to make it happen but it was a thought.  

6)  Look at the salaries for church staff and compare them to salaries for people in similar positions in other communities.  Are they comparable or are we overspending?

7)  Find ways to cut the electric bill