Charting your church’s success (or failure) with the Chart of Accounts

I am a believer that many churches’ future is determined by their chart of accounts. The chart of accounts shape the church leaderships view of their finances and affect their decisions. A confusing chart of accounts leads to confused decisions. I know there are many exceptions, but the chart of accounts is one of the hidden forces either helping or harming your decision-making ability.

Sheri Meister (Executive Director of the Dakotas United Methodist Foundation) and I identify three steps in this video to cleaning up your chart of accounts. 1)Cleaning up the old stuff by either chucking it or renaming it; 2)Making sure every account has an owner; and 3)Using the roll-up (sub-account) abilities of your accounting system. Do these things, and you will greatly help your leadership in making good decisions.


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How to win as a Finance Committee

This was from a training that I did in the Fall of 2019 for United Methodist churches in Southeastern South Dakota. While most finance committees focus on reviewing reports and looking at cutting expenses, some are making a huge impact in helping their churches succeed. They are growing the church’s income, improving operations/decision making, and much more.

How are they making such an impact? The gist is, they staff the finance committee with the right people and set goals. It’s not that complex. I also give some ideas on how to fix the income problem, reporting, auditing, and budgeting. Enjoy!


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The Step Chart on Steroids

The old “Grow One” Step Chart has been around for a long time. A number of churches have distributed a chart similar to this one during their pledge card or stewardship drive. The Step Chart actually was very convicting to me and led me to start tithing. The Step Chart is great for personally conviction, but not a great for assessing the success of growing generous givers.

When working with churches that are struggling financially, I developed a tool based on the Step Chart to help see if their people were growing or shrinking or staying the same in their giving. This is a tool to convict church leaders that they have an income problem…a generosity problem…and not an expense problem. This can also be a tool to provide comfort if you are growing generous givers, but the finances are still tight. Here’s how:


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The Art of the Ask

The Finance Committee is often the least appreciated committee in the church. Pastors and program staff/committees complain because the Finance Committee is always quick to raise concerns. But here’s the deal, the Finance Committee is like the brakes, and the Programs/Pastors are like the gas pedal. Just try driving a car without a brake AND gas pedal.

For people going onto the Finance Committee, they need to have a strong understanding of the church’s vision. That should be the primary qualification…not banking or accounting experience. The Finance Committee should also have goals for how they are helping the church fulfill that vision.

Sheri Meister and I walk through ideas on how to make your church’s Finance Committee beloved instead of berated.


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