For those of you that are Dave Ramsey students, you probably appreciate the value of an Emergency Fund. This is useful when the car breaks down or you lose your job or if the furnace dies…in January. But what about those smaller emergencies that you haven’t planned for? When you have unexpected company and need to buy extra groceries or you finally run our of printer ink or the school fee you forgot about?
These aren’t exactly emergency-fund worthy so how do we care for them. Most churches just allow all their programming staff to pad their budgets to be prepared. Actually, if you’re the one program that fails to pad your budget, what do you do when the unexpected happens? I like Steve Stroope’s strategy of removing the padding and creating a simple process for when programs have an unexpected expense or opportunity. In this video, I illustrate the strategy:
For many churches, the program committees and staff worry about running the programs while the treasurer and finance committee worry about the money spent to run the programs. There is a constant tension here that isn’t altogether negative. Where it turns negative is when programming ignores the concerns of finance or finance ignores ignores the concerns of programming.
“People support what they help to create.”
Randy Hedge, Pastor of Madison UMC
That quote by Randy is key. How do you include the program committees and staff in the budget process? What are some helpful tips to getting good budget requests from these groups?
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.
If you watched the previous videos, the problem with the traditional church governance is clear…to you. Also, the solution of the Single Board Governance is clear…to you. But you need to remember that pushing for change, even good common sense change, is hard and often dangerous. Kermit Culver has over 40 years of experience in leadership, and he does a great job in describing the dangers and strategies in pursuing a change like this.
In the previous video, Kermit Culver talked us through the issues with the traditional church governance…where you have 20 committees each with 10 members. One of the issues with this is no one knows who is in charge or how an actual decision gets made. How do you replace all these committees with just one? What does that actually look like? Kermit does a great job explaining how his church restructured and how it actually works.
Could it be that your church’s governance is hurting it’s own mission? Most United Methodist churches are structured according to the Book of Discipline (¶243-258), and most churches struggle filling a slew committee positions. Some churches seem to have about as many positions as they do members. You end up wasting a lot of time and energy trying to fill positions where about half the people don’t want to serve. The good news is there is an exception. Instead of 50+ positions to fill, you might only need 12.
Kermit Culver, leads a discussion on how the traditional structure is holding many churches back. He was one of the first to pioneer the Simple Board Governance solution in the Dakotas UMC.
Hopefully this is timely and helpful for any church struggling financially. Here’s the bad news: There is no silver bullet when it comes to raising up generous givers. If your church is struggling financially, there is no quick fix. There is a strong spiritual element connected to our relationship with money…and practically nothing happens quickly in the spiritual world. Even when you first came to faith, for how many years were people praying for you and planting seeds in your life?
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything…just don’t expect an immediate turnaround. First of all, there needs to be the right conditions within the church to grow generous givers. Has leadership proven themselves trustworthy? Do they have a clear idea of where the church needs to go (i.e. their mission)?
The next thing is to give attention to these six areas: 1)Engaging; 2)Inspiring; 3)Teaching; 4)Asking; 5)Thanking; and 6)Reporting. There’s no fixed schedule. All areas need attention…especially the areas where you are weakest. In this webinar, Sheri Meister and I share the principles of each area as well as some practical steps the church can take.