I’ve never coached or consulted a church that told me they had too much money. That’s why these 12 questions to bring clarity to church finances are helpful for every church.
There are a few churches that are blessed with a significant margin, but that comes in great part from discipline among the staff and generosity among the congregation.
Most churches, however, face a tight budget to income ratio, often falling short and faced with difficult decisions.
(I have intentionally not mentioned the subject of God’s blessing. The purpose of this article is not to suggest that any church that struggles with church finances is without God’s favor. Or that churches who have great margin are especially favored by God.)
We can all agree that church finances often bring more tension and pressure than nearly any other single topic in the church.
Board meetings can heat up fast when cash is low, and unpaid bills are forcing tough decisions.
Tough decisions like:
- Stopping a building project midstream
- Letting staff go
- Cutting back on ministries
fiA shortage of cash is difficult for any church to deal with, and the complexity is often compounded when the leaders are not aligned as a team with how they think about money.
It’s a great idea for your senior leadership to have a discussion about both theology and practice regarding money, independent of specific and live budget matters.
When it comes to money and the pressures of the moment, there is often too much stress and emotion to think clearly.
I urge you to have several open and honest conversations about your approach to biblical financial management. But not during actual budget meetings, again, there’s too much pressure then.
I’m offering a set of 12 practical questions to assist you in a productive dialogue that should relieve some tension in the boardroom.
Honest conversation guided by good questions doesn’t make financial difficulties and challenges disappear, but it helps you navigate them as a united team.
These conversations won’t necessarily be easy, but when you take this proactive approach, you can increase your effectiveness as leaders, improve morale and teamwork, and improve your overall stewardship.
12 Helpful Questions for Your Church Finances:
(In a few of these questions, I will risk meddling a bit close to differing theological views, but my goal is to remain practical.)
1) What role does prayer play in your church finances?
As mentioned, I’m not suggesting that any church with financial struggles is void of God’s blessing, but it’s always fair to ask about the consistency and focus of your prayer when it comes to money.
Financial prayers are about Kingdom stewardship and reflect your trust and dependence upon God.
2) In what specific way(s) is faith connected to your financial decision-making?
The intersection of faith and prudence is always a nuanced perspective when related to money.
How much of your decision-making is related to faith and trusting God, and how much is based on practical wisdom? It’s usually a combination of the two that provides the right answers.
3) Who is primarily responsible for the income of the church?
Again, theology! Yes, God is our provider, but God also has charged us with the responsibility to lead.
In some churches, the senior pastor takes point responsibility. In other churches, the board steps into that role. In others, still, it’s a lead team of senior staff.
The answer to that question should be clear at all times for the purpose of responsibility and accountability.