With so many different perspectives and schools of thought on how a church should be managed, particularly its finances, the old adage of “Keep it Simple” is often thrown out the window. With strategic budgets, attendance projections and other elements of church management to keep in balance, there are a few basic financial truths that can often be overlooked.
Here are 10 personal finance strategies that your church should be utilizing.
1. Plan a Regular Budget Review
One thing that can be counted on in life is change. Keep your church’s finances in check by ensuring any budget is keeping pace with the changes going on in your church. Most personal budgets have a set of 16 budget lines-14 that remain unchanged, and 2 that are added or removed every 3 months. A quarterly budget review will ensure goals are kept in sight and surprises are avoided.
2. Set Achievable Goals
There is no limit to the blessings that God can bring upon a church, though this does not mean it is wise to create lofty goals. Make your future plans based on your past results and a conservative growth projection.
3. Seek Wise Counsel
Whether the majority of financial tasks are dedicated to a single treasurer or to an advisory board, it is often helpful to get outside perspective. Consulting with a CPA or a financial advisor before taking on big projects or major commitments can bring confidence to an otherwise uncertain decision.
4. Pad the Treasury
Most individuals facing financial hardship are in their situation as a result of unexpected life circumstances. The best insurance against financial hardship is to maintain an emergency fund. Maintaining a minimum of 3-6 months of your standard operating costs will help navigate the next giving lull.
5. Be Sure To Insure
Be it mandatory to carry or a supplemental policy for added protection, insurance is a smart move. It is not unlikely that you have a trustworthy insurance agent in your congregation who can help guide the decision making process.
6. Takes Measures to Prevent Theft
Be it from your trusted staff or an outside individual, it happens. Don’t let a simple oversight turn into financial disaster for your church. Protect your church by following these 10 steps to prevent church embezzlement.
7. Reward Achievement
When one of our members pays off their first credit card we suggest a small celebration to carry the momentum. Similarly, when your church reaches an attendance goal, consider lifting up the church to celebrate the achievement. A simple cookout is a great way to celebrate the success and show every congregant that they are appreciated and that they matter.
8. Borrow Wisely
Avoid borrowing money for intangibles or items that depreciate, such as vehicles or staff salaries. Instead, focus debt on assets that will appreciate over time such as land and property.
9. Keep Debt Under One Third
When budgeting, allocate no more than one-third of the general fund to pay debt. This will set guidelines for the committee that manages the purchases. You will need to stay true to borrowing wisely in order to keep this in check.
10.Don’t Keep Up With The Joneses
A church is not measured by the size of its building, but the message it carries. At its core a church is a group of people coming together to worship Jesus Christ, regardless of the venue. Seeing a newer church down the road outgrew their building after only a few years does not mean that you need to try to keep pace. Bigger isn’t always better and allowing outside factors to influence your internal decision-making is not a recipe for success. Who knows, they might even be neglecting numbers 8 and 9!
Whether your church is growing or struggling, these 10 simple strategies are sure to keep budgets in line, goals in sight and debt in check. If you never leave the basics you’ll never be forced to return to them.
Josh Richner is the founder of FaithWorks Financial, a Christian debt relief company assisting individuals in their quest to become debt free while helping their churches along the way. Josh is a Christian, a husband and a new father with an unending passion for small business and personal growth. Follow the FaithWorks Blog and connect with him on LinkedIn!