There’s no denying that financial ebb and flow is a part of life for every church. Ministries need monetary resources in order to grow and serve effectively, but when the economy takes a dip, some churches are left in a tight squeeze. How can we become leaders with the wisdom to oversee our church finances wisely, no matter what season lies ahead?
In addition to prayer and wise stewardship, there are some practical tips we can employ to boost our financial stability, no matter what cultural moment the economy finds itself in. If you want to “recession-proof” your church, these five methods will lead you into a more secure financial future.
1. Review your budget regularly.
An annual budget meeting is a great place to begin when it comes to financial planning, but it should never be the sum total of any church’s accounting review. We recommend monthly or quarterly check-ins — the more frequent, the better. Every annual budget is created with a certain amount of educated guesswork, and a regular review can help you see which areas may need to be adjusted. Some line items may be eating up their allotted budget more quickly than they should, while others end up being more financially expedient than expected.
Keeping track of what’s over budget and what’s under it will help you make wise choices about your church’s finances in real time, as well as informing you about changes to make for future annual budgets. These regular reviews can also save you from an unexpected deficit at the end of the year.
2. Don’t forget about savings.
Outreach, facilities, and staffing make up a large portion of every church budget — as they should! Paying your employees well, keeping your facilities up-to-date, and serving your community effectively all make for a healthy ministry model overall. However, it’s important to account for unexpected changes in your financial model by allotting a percentage of your budget to a general savings line item. This may seem like an obvious recommendation, but it really matters!
When every dollar is allocated to a specific ministry, you’re left with no room to cover expenses you never saw coming, from costly building maintenance to personnel changes. A cash reserve, even if it’s only a tiny fraction of your overall budget, can give you some needed breathing room for any unforeseen financial shifts.
3. Bring in accounting experts.
Depending on the size of your church, your accounting and financial management set-up can vary widely. Whether you have an entire financial department on staff, or you have a single accountant in your congregation who keeps your books, it’s important to have oversight from someone with financial expertise.
While pastoral oversight is crucial for every church budget, it’s also true that many pastors are overworked — and under-resourced when it comes to managing a large ministry budget. By allowing financial experts in your church congregation, on your board, or on your staff to bring their wisdom to the table, you’re setting yourself up for wise money management.
4. Mention giving often.
Church cash flow is often dependent on giving from congregants — and for a ministry to be able to budget and serve effectively, consistent tithing is an important piece of the puzzle. While occasional offerings and gifts are always welcome, regular giving is most helpful, and the members of your church would benefit from knowing that!
Discussing giving organically can feel challenging at first, but it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Instead, incorporate it into your weekly announcements, or spend a few moments discussing it in a sermon based on a passage that mentions money or stewardship.
It’s also incredibly helpful to invite your church congregation into the financial conversation. Offering meaningful numbers and insights from your budget provides transparency, which gives them confidence in your financial management as a church. Additionally, make sure you’re providing giving updates to your church leaders, so that they can discuss things with their own teams in a way that feels natural.
5. Make giving easy.
Most people in your church want to contribute. It invites them into your ministry, making them a stakeholder in what God is doing in and through your church. Today, online giving is the simplest and most effective way to engage your congregation in financial stewardship. In fact, recent studies have shown that tithes and offerings increase by 32% annually when this technology is used!
Church Base makes giving easier than ever with our Contributions digital giving module. With this software, your church can accept donations through your website or app, on a giving kiosk in your building, or by text, giving members a number of stress-free, simple options to engage with this spiritual practice. With no monthly fee for churches and some of the lowest transaction fees around, we designed this tool to help you recession-proof your church for the long haul.
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