Alexander Schimmeck / Unsplash

Now that your congregation has passed the midpoint of the year, it’s a good time to examine your financial health. For many congregations, this is the first full year in a post-pandemic environment. How do the finances look in your organization today?

Money isn’t everything when you’re trying to do faithful ministry, but knowing where the money is going and where it’s coming from is one of the essential responsibilities of leadership. If you haven’t done so already, it might be worthwhile to get ahead of the annual budget preparation cycle. Use the slower pace of summer to take a deep dive into the financial narrative of your ministry. What valuable insights can you discover as you get ready to plan for the upcoming year?

When we tell our congregation’s story, we often point to a vision statement or a motto, but our finances tell a story, too. Knowing how much money is coming in, and from what sources, informs a leader about who the stakeholders are. It’s been said that people vote with their pocketbooks and wallets.  Sometimes a decline in giving indicates members’ growing concerns about the direction of a ministry. Sometimes a decline in giving reflects anxiety that has nothing to do with the church and everything to do with an uncertain economic outlook.

Closely examining your expenses can reveal areas where the church’s commitments need to change. Are you still sending money each month for an initiative that ended three years ago? Are nonoperational ministries still taking up space in the budget? This summer review will also give you an opportunity to reflect on what’s missing from the budget. Budgets are vision-funding plans. Do you see the vision represented in the budget? If not, this might be a good time to make a change.

Resources

Living into the kingdom of God by believing in its abundance

We can live out our beliefs as the early church did by stewarding resources to meet the needs of all, writes a director of programs and grants for Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.

By Mycal X. Brickhouse

Money, mission and meeting in person — a new study looks at COVID-19’s effect on churches

More than 550 congregations took part in Lake Institute’s survey about the pandemic. While their finances have been impacted, many faith communities are adapting, which will be critical moving forward.

By Edie Gross

What to do when money gets tight

Don’t begin the conversation with the expenses to cut. Instead, focus on your organization’s assets and how they can be leveraged in service of your missional impact, writes the executive director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.

By David L. Odom

The church has a complicated relationship with money

The author of a new book opens a discussion on stewardship, poverty and the holy uses of wealth.

Q&A with Miguel Escobar


Before you go…

I’ve talked to enough clergy to know that not all congregations have the same theology of money. A scarcity mindset settles in quickly and is hard to change. When a trusted layperson becomes the treasurer and regularly reminds the church of the risk of running out of money, members often yield to their “expertise.” For this reason, pastors not only need to be competent in the pulpit. They also need to be comfortable talking about money — how members give and what the church spends.

This summer, take a close look at your congregation’s finances. What’s your church’s money story?

Feel free to reach out to me and the Alban Weekly team at alban@duke.edu. Until next week, keep leading!

Prince Rivers

Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity


Save 35% on Alban congregational resources! Use code ALBSUMMER35 at rowman.com

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