Budgeting: Know your Bottom Line

The most disheartening and discouraging thing a church can do is adopt an unrealistic budget because you are planning to fail. Why is it that churches tend to abandon all common sense and reason when it comes to budgeting? They budget $100,000 in income and expenses knowing full well that they never bring in more than $90,000 in income.

When you challenge them on this, the most common response is, “This is where you need to have faith.” Didn’t you have faith last year when you fell short? And the year before that? They’re obviously not talking about faith that the income will come in. Is it faith that the church board will once again approve a crappy budget? A realistic budget doesn’t start with knowing what you want to spend, but with knowing how much you money you can expect to receive.


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Budgeting with Purpose

For too many churches, the budget is just an annual chore that we have to go through. The treasurer and/or the finance committee take charge and plug in numbers. The church board then approves it which is then approved at the annual meeting. For too many churches, the budget is also the annual reminder that we’re failing financially, and we don’t have a plan to turn it around.

If you don’t have a clear vision/mission for your church, that’s the first priority. The vision needs to be clear enough to where you can see how it should affect you financially. The budget then becomes the plan or assignment for each dollar to move us one step closer towards realizing that vision. It’s no longer a chore. It’s a vital part of the work.


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Why Church Treasurers HATE Church Budgets

It’s sad when, what should be a great joy to a treasurer, turns out to be a burden. Treasurers usually love numbers. Numbers provide comfort and something solid in the squishy spiritual world of the church. When churches make financial decisions based on how much money is the bank, why bother with a budget?

Since treasurers are often not very confrontational, here are the words that are often left unsaid when it comes to the budget:

  • “Do you understand that a budget isn’t money in the bank? You can’t spend what we don’t have.”
  • “So…when we budget an unrealistic amount for the church, we call it faith, but then we criticize the pastor when she preaches on increasing our personal giving on faith. Hypocrites!”
  • “Can’t we just save some time and just turn in a budget that says, ‘Same as last year?’

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Annual Conference Memories – 2015

With Annual Conference being postponed, I thought it’d be fun to post some videos from Annual Conference past. This is one from 2015. I reused my “Keep your eye on ROI” slide which is a classic. There were some great moments where we learn Jesus can do math and see my ability to make church logos.


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Annual Conference Memories – 2014

With Annual Conference being postponed, I thought it’d be fun to post some videos from Annual Conference past. This is one from 2014. The neat thing about this one is that I’m reporting on the transition to the tithing apportionment formula. There’s a great story relating to Howard Beach UMC.


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