Friday, July 6, 2012

How's your church doing financially?

One of the things about visiting different churches each week, my worship plan for the past seven months or so, is that there is almost invariably a financial statement available in the foyer.

I've been known to sneak one out for more careful review at my leisure.

To tell the truth, when I scrutinize another church's financial statement I get a mild feeling of ecclesiastical voyeurism. It's none of my business, but we all know how nosy Baptist preachers are.

I am gratified that most churches are forthright, open, and unashamedly transparent about their financial matters. Being wide open about church finances, lay it all out there for everyone to see and know, is a very healthy practice that helps clergy and churches alike avoid some of the more harmful effects that money can cause in a church.

What I am seeing, just about every Sunday, is a church that is behind on their budget.

I will admit to more than a modicum of concern about finances when I was a pastor. My favorite church committee was the counting committee and I would often, playfully tell the ladies (they were always ladies in the churches I pastored, except for honest-as-the-day-is-long Albert who was an all-in-one treasurer, counter, internal auditor, and check dispenser in my first church) that they needed to do a better job because the totals weren't large enough.

One of the things I don't miss is, dare I say it, the weekly concern about budgets, bills, and such. The Lord invariably took care of things but it would have been nice to meet a budget every now and then.

Count me as highly appreciative of the folks in church who give regularly, some who tithe, some who go beyond, some who give occasionally but who, together, make it possible to have paid, full time clergy who may focus on preaching the Word and ministering.

If I come to your church and you have a monthly financial report available, I'll subtly fold one and slip it into my Bible. When I get home and read it, I'll doubtless say a prayer for you and your church finances.'s your church doing financially? Do you lose sleep over it? How do you respond in your church if things are going south?

You have my prayers.


Steve Martin said...

For over 50 years God has kept our doors open. We strugle financially, but we try not to worry. He will keep our doors open.

Our task is to remain faithful to Him and proclaim Him. In season and out.


Wade Burleson said...

Every August our church is anywhere between $250,000 to $400,000 behind budget (Our budget is 3 million - which includes our special mission projecdt funding in Africa, New York and India). By January 1, we are anywhere between $100,000 to $250,00 OVER budget in terms of our giving. For the past eighteen years we have had budget surpluses (and we don't teach "the Tithe!") We teach people to give to our church and to various Christian ministries, and to the poor, and to missions "As the Spirit leads" -- remembering that we are but stewards of our finances because 100% is His, not 10%. :)

As a church, we are debt free. We just raised $1,000,000 in cash last year, in addition to our budget, to remodel a floor on our three story educational building to turn into a new a Youth Center.

When I first came (20 years ago) I can remember two weeks where I did not receive a pay check because we did not have enough money to pay salaries (and the church's former pastors had fixated the people with "the tithe"). I do not know if there is any correlation, but grace giving sure does seem to outmatch tithe giving. Oh, and by the way, we always invite people to take money FROM the offering plate during the offering time if they have a need.

In order to fund ministries during the summer with as much as a quarter of a million deficit (or more), we rely on a "Cash Reserve" account that we established over the years by adding "Surplus Funds" into this account for what some would call "Rainy Days." This fund now stands at $750,000.

So, if somebody looks at our budget sheet during the summer, they may think we are doing terrible! :) If you come visit us, I hope you come in January!


Good post, William

John Wylie said...

Good article. I absolutely agree with Wade on what he said about giving. Our needs are always met and I don't preach tithing either. One of the mist refreshing things for me as the pastor of such a generous church is that I don't have to be fund raiser in chief.

Tom Bryant said...

Down here in Florida, the Summer is the wrong time to look at our statement too. But God has been good.

In preaching about giving/tithing, we go through a book so when it comes up, we're talking about it. But I try to make sure that I don't give in to the urge to preach about finances when we're hitting a low point.

Tim Dahl said...

In the 10 years I've been at FBCLW, most of those have been financially difficult. We've now entered into our most difficult financial season. We simply don't have enough money coming in to pay everything out of the budget. We do have a little bit of surplus, but that will only last us a year at the current rate.

On this particular matter, things do not look good for us.


Dave Miller said...

The last couple of years have been pretty tight. Living on the edge.

Lee said...

It has been interesting to see the different budgeting priorities in a church of a different denomination after having been in a Southern Baptist church for a lifetime. The budget is a matter handled by the elders of the church, and since we're not congregational, and don't have business meetings, unless there's a problem, we don't see a budget report.