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Episode 49: Mark Elsdon

Declining attendance, shrinking budgets, and dwindling numbers; these have been the leading headlines in Mainline Protestant churches and denominations for the last decade plus. Even before the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, churches all across the country were approaching or already within a crisis point of their own, as pastors and church leaders struggled to navigate the challenges and lead their churches into the future.

While the very real signs of decline cannot be ignored, shrinking numbers and dwindling budgets have become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy in many mainline contexts as more and more pastors and church leaders begrudgingly accept such things as unavoidable realities and begin to spread a narrative of diminished capacity and lessening impact within their churches.

Such sentiments create a sort of “sinking ship” mentality where many seek to “abandon ship” and those “captains” of the congregation succumb to simply “going down with the ship.” Sunday worship then, in many of these churches, becomes a quasi-funeral/memorial service and pastors and congregants alike seek to remember the good times, hold onto what they still can, and mourn their impending demise.

But, just before the church organ has played one last long and slow dirge, pastor and author Mark Elsdon seeks to proclaim for all to hear, “We Aren’t Broke! Hear it with me again, We Aren’t Broke!” Despite all dwindling and decline, many congregations still have incredible amounts of assets that can still be used for incredible amounts of ministry and mission long into the future!

Rev. Mark Elsdon joins the pod to talk about his new book, We Aren’t Broke: Uncovering Hidden Resources for Mission and Ministry. He talks about how the book was inspired by his own church’s journey from decline and decay into vital mission and ministry by uncovering hidden resources and strategically utilizing them to advance mission. Mark also shares ideas about how we can begin to see these resources for ourselves and how we can overcome the scarcity mindset.

Mark Elsdon lives and works at the intersection of money and meaning as an entrepreneur, pastor, consultant, and speaker. He is cofounder of RootedGood, which seeks to create more good in the world through social innovation; executive director at Pres House on the University of Wisconsin's Madison campus; and owner of Elsdon Strategic Consulting. Mark is president of the board of directors of Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN) an impact investing fund that provides micro-finance for the working poor in Latin America.

Mark has a BA in Psychology from UC Berkeley, a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin School of Business. Mark is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, USA, and lives in Madison, Wisconsin with his spouse and two daughters. He is an avid cyclist and considers it a good year when he rides more miles on his bike than he drives in his car.

Mark is donating 100% of author proceeds from the sale of We Aren’t Broke to nonprofit organizations engaging in creative solutions to address the “wicked” problems he writes about in the book.

Get a copy of Mark’s book here:

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