While money helps churches keep the doors open, we can’t allow ourselves to think of it as a means to an end. It’s a resource that we’ve been blessed with and we need to be careful about how we use it. Here are eight tough questions pastors should ask about church finances to make sure the church is making responsible use of its resources.
1. Are you talking about church finances enough?
Addressing generosity can be uncomfortable. Most pastors have been on the receiving end of frustrated phone calls or emails after preaching on giving. It can make you a little wary of tackling the subject regularly.
But that’s the exact wrong position to take. If you want to loosen the grip that materialism has in people’s lives, you need to get beyond their discomfort with the topic. And that comes by regularly exposing them to the truth that financial discipleship is essential. It’s critical that you have a plan for consistently touching on the subject of money and possessions.
2. Are we using giving statements well?
We all know that churches are required to send out giving statements for tax purposes. But what if they can do more than that? Giving statements provide an opportunity to thank members for their giving and help set a vision for the coming year. Consider ways they can be used to acknowledge giving and encourage greater generosity.
3. How can we stabilize our budget?
Church budgets are tricky. You’re reliant on the giving habits of your members, and budgetary growth is a faith-based step. To make matters more challenging, you also need to consider seasons that impact giving—like the proverbial summer slump.
It’s essential to look at ways you can make your budget more predictable. In the past, churches would do that with an annual pledge drive. Today, churches can get much the same effect by encouraging recurring giving.
One of the best ways to encourage recurring giving is to provide your congregation with convenient digital giving tools. A platform like Pushpay can be really beneficial in moving people forward in their giving journey with your church. Most churches see a 76% growth in recurring givers during their first month of implementing Pushpay.
Average increase in digital giving with Pushpay
4. Do we have the right security practices in place?
Church fraud and embezzlement is too common to ignore. Unfortunately, too many churches think it would never happen to them—until it does. It’s critical that you have common sense security practices in place.
Perform an audit of your security practices and ensure that you have written policies and procedures in place that deal with things like:
- Conflicts of interest
- Separations between people that handle and record income and those who process disbursements
- Dual controls
- Rotating counters
- Immediate cash deposits
Also, remember that by prioritizing digital giving you remove many opportunities for fraud and theft.
5. Are we maintaining the wrong ministries?
Ministries cost churches time, energy, and money. Churches that want to be financially healthy can’t afford to expend resources on things that are under-performing or no longer in line with the church’s vision and mission.
When a church establishes a new ministry, it’s vital that they know what success looks like and have a timetable for hitting specific metrics. This makes it easier to know when it’s time to put resources elsewhere.
6. Are we transparent enough with our church finances?
When it comes to church finances, there shouldn’t be any secrets. You want to keep people informed of the financial health of the church, and you want to answer the questions they might have. If a church is struggling financially or unable to make its budget, it’s not an issue that should be kept from the congregation.
7. Are we on financial autopilot?
When it comes time to create a church budget, it’s easy to simply plan for a percentage increase and to apply that number across the board. It’s easy, but not helpful.
A budget is an important document that should communicate your goals and plans for the year. What marks do you want to hit? How do you want to use your budget to facilitate your vision? This can take some considerable thought, discussion, and re-working of your budget—and it’s the key to achieving your church’s goals.
8. Are we stewarding our church finances well?
Stewardship isn’t something that just individual people need to be concerned about, it’s important for churches, too. Church budgets are built on the good-faith sacrifices of people who want to be generous and obedient to God. It’s essential that churches wrestle with the best uses for the finances they’ve been entrusted with.
This means looking closely at areas where money might be squandered or misused. It also means considering areas where money might be better used.
Transforming church finances
Church finances are a critical element of church health. If you want a church that’s firing on all cylinders, it’s imperative that you ask the tough financial questions. If you’re looking for more resources to set your church on the right track, download a free copy of The Ultimate Guide To Growing Recurring Giving. It will give you the tools to set your church up for success.