Transitions at Valley Baptist Church, Merced

After 35 years as senior pastor at Valley Baptist in Merced, Steve and Lorraine Moldenhauer are joining a mission to minister in rural churches across the West who are between pastors. They started their ministry in a rural church near Redding, CA in 1973.  After serving for 5 years in Spokane, Washington they came back to Steve's home church, Valley Baptist, in 1982. Steve states, "We never intended to stay in Merced this long. We took it a day at at time." The church sponsored Merced Christian School so their four sons spent almost every day at the church until they went off to college. Lorraine became the pastor's secretary in 1988 so it was truly a family affair.  Over the years there have seen setbacks, like the closing of Castle Air Force Base in 1995 when half the church left, but with that came great opportunities. In 2005 the University of California opened a campus in Merced, which brought a big influx of college students and teachers into the church. Steve was privileged to serve on the NextGen board from 2005-09. Seeing how churches flounder when a long tenured pastor retires, Steve called an associate in 2014 with the goal of making an intentional transition out of the pulpit. Pastor Steven Gatdula has served in every area of ministry and was given a unanimous call to be the next pastor of Valley Baptist on August 20.  Pastor Steve Moldenhauer preached his "retirement" sermon on the transition of leadership from Moses to Joshua from Numbers 27:15ff titled "Passing the Baton" on August 27, 2017. Thank you Steve and Lorraine for your faithful service to the church and community of Merced!  We are praying God will bless you both as you step out in faith to minister to rural churches across the west.

How NextGen Helps Churches Increase Income

David Bennett, Director of Finance & Development

Recently, a NextGen pastor approached me and asked what I did for NextGen. "The short answer," I said, " is to help our churches obtain more money so they can accomplish the vision God has for their ministries."  Our goal at NextGen is to be a resource to our churches. We don't believe that churches are obligated to serve NextGen, but rather NextGen serves churches.

There are several ways we help churches increase their income.  First we help churches increase their weekly offerings. The average church we work with increases its income by 17% and we do this by taking the church through our 44 point checklist for getting its financial "house in order."

Second, we help churches with Ministry Expansion Campaigns. When churches need to raise millions of dollars for new buildings, more staff and special ministry projects, we equip our churches and come along side them to raise more money. We make sure the congregation is ready for a campaign and if not, we give the church steps so they are ready. Also, we provide an estimate of what the church can raise which helps both the church to plan and to properly set the congregation's expectations. To determine this, we go further than just looking at current church income and its trends. We complete a Ministry Expansion Study.

Third, we help churches obtain planned gifts through wills, estates and other unusual gifts of real estate, collectables, marketable securities and illiquid assets like businesses. Many want to raise income by 10%. Others need $10,000+ donations for a capital or other project. The largest gifts come to churches through estate or other type planned gifts. Even though the national average for a planned gift is about $600,000 (according to Dunham and Associates research). my experience shows that these gifts are rarely under $100,000. We have a simple process for helping people to joyfully give the size of a gift.

Fourth, we provide coaching/consulting. Whether it's a new church looking to raise support or an established church looking to receive more income, we take a church through a three step process. We help the pastor determine what tangible ministries/projects/staff they  want to see in place at the end of year one, year two, year 10 or any tie from he desires. Then we write a step by step plan of action which will lead to that vision. We tailor tactics and strategies to the specific church and its culture to give the highest probability of success. Then we have monthly, 30 minutes calls which have produced the most powerful results. Normally, executive coaching is very expensive, but NextGen provides this service for our churches.

Fifth, we help with retirement income planning. It breaks my heart to see pastors in their 70's who have opted out of Social Security and still failed to save anything for retirement. I've even spoken with pastors who are pastoring churches of over 5000 in weekend attendance with nothing saved. Now I realize that God provides. I also realize that He provide through giving us seeds to sow, or money to save. In addition, I realize that retirement is not mentioned  in the Bible and even seems to discourage the traditional sense of retirement. For example, in Luke 12 Jesus tells the story of the rich fool. The "rich fool" tore down his little barns, built larger ones to store his crops so that he could take life easy. All of us have tasks to perform for Him as long as we are on earth. When our work for Him is complete, He'll take us home to be with Him. However, I realize that as we age, our income generating capacity diminishes. Even if a pastor still ministers as he grows older, many pastors use their retirement income from savings instead of asking their churches for a salary. We are here to help plan so that income from a church would someday be optional.

You may wonder if NextGen could help you generate more income in your church. Feel free to call 916-521-5451 or email me with questions or to schedule a 30 minute call.

David Bennett

Making your house a Lighthouse

Making your house a Lighthouse



From the beginning we have known the work God has called us to here in Antioch, California, would not fit the typical church planting model.  We love to hear of the awesome ways God is blessing traditional church plants that begin by meeting at a specific location and building a critical mass.  We, on the other hand, are trying something different.