Tuesday, December 10, 1991

What Every Church Leader Needs To Know About Church Finances

1. In the church, there is often no charge, but there is always a cost. We would never charge admission to worship, or for pastoral visits. There is no charge, but there is a cost to each of these. Someone has to pay, and the costs are paid from the offerings.

2. The church should not MAKE money, but rather we should USE money. The church is a non-profit organization. We need to put every penny we receive to good use. Do not despair that we are always in a financial crunch. If we are bringing in too much money, it is probably a sign we are not doing enough work for the Lord!

3. Money is no object when doing the Lord's work. If God wants the church to do something, He will provide. After all, God has all the money in the world (we just have to figure out where He put it)! The Session should not let money decide our actions. Don’t ask, “do we have enough money,” but rather, “is this God’s will?” If it is God’s will, it is our responsibility to carry out His will and to find a way to make it affordable.

4. The church is like a business, and we have to handle it like a business. We have to be accountable in our finances. We have to pay our bills. We have to use money wisely.

5. The church is nothing like a business, and we can't handle it like a business. In spite of number 4, number 5 is also true. We are in the faith business. We are not out to make money. We are out to use money. Many of the rules that apply to business simply do not apply to the church. Many of the common mistakes a session makes begins with the phrase, “In my line of work, this is the way we do this…”

6. Special Offerings are winners. People want to have control over their giving and enjoy giving to special needs. Very rarely does a special offering reduce giving to the general budget. Cutting special offerings or designated giving usually reduces income.

7. Approving a budget gives people permission to spend money without further approval. It is impractical for the session to approve purchases for paper clips and routine curriculum orders. The budget gives people, staff ministry teams and committees in the church pre-approved permission to spend money if the money is available (see #8)

8. The budget is governed by the giving of the people. What many teachers and civil employees often find difficult to understand is that just because the Session has approved a budget, doesn’t mean the money will be there. We don’t enforce taxation of members, we depend on their generous giving. This means that we must all work in harmony with each other and cooperate with the Communication and Resources Ministry Team.

9. The session controls the budget, the budget does not control the session. The budget is a tool. The budget does not bind the session and can be changed at any time. It is extremely rare not to adjust the budget in the course of a year.

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