By Mike Boblit
Blink. That’s how fast it seems a new year approaches—and presents another opportunity to bring as many people as possible to the gospel.
Many ministry leaders look forward to developing disciples through a purpose-driven process. As you set goals for attendance and outreach in the new year, don’t overlook one fundamental that will help any church expand its capacity to grow: strong financials.
I think of financial goal-setting—as well as the process of measuring performance against those goals—as a road map for getting things done.
No organization can set its own direction without planning the resources required. In fact, insufficient financial resources are a common pitfall for achieving organizational goals, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Whether your role is to serve as the senior pastor, church treasurer, or simply participate on a finance committee, keeping these four financial goals in mind will help your ministry approach the new year with the ability to accomplish your top priorities.
Goal One: Budget Toward the Vision
An annual spending plan is nothing more than a document defining what it will take to be successful – but don’t let the simplicity of developing one fool you. Instead, set the goal of budgeting toward the future.
Budgeting can help clarify your organization’s goals and objectives, create a plan for its activities and help leadership allocate appropriate resources to accomplish the ministry’s vision. A detailed budget also can help you control expenses.
Your ministry should set a budget annually, ideally a few months before the start of the fiscal year.
Although how budgets are prepared and are used will differ depending on the bylaw provisions and leadership styles of each ministry, these guidelines will ensure you have an effective strategy in place for success:
- Set a budget for the upcoming year by looking at what was spent in past years
- Glean a historical view to help your ministry team develop realistic giving projections for the coming year
- Support the church mission and vision through the budgeting process
- Maintain an effective financial control system with checks and balances
- Define roles clearly to achieve accountability among staff and volunteers
- Control your expenses and cash flow analysis
- Don’t spend money if it’s not available; if actual income is less than what was anticipated, limit spending
Goal Two: Steward God’s Resources
It’s not easy taking on a financial accountability role, but with the right tools, you can be an effective steward for your church. Look for resources as well as mentors who can guide you.
Ask individuals in your church who develop budgets for work or perhaps work for financial institutions to assist with developing financial goals and annual budgets for your church.
Regardless of your previous experience serving as the financial custodian of your church, a worthy goal is to learn as much as you can about proper financial protocol. Finally, remember you are not only serving the congregation, but more importantly, you serve God in your role.
Goal Three: Embrace Innovation
If your church is not already using e-givng, I recommend exploring its benefits. E-giving makes it easy for all members to give but is especially effective with millennials.
Many churches have found tremendous success developing mobile apps to share videos, podcasts, and images, as well as to facilitate online giving.
This trend aligns with how your members use mobile technology already. The latest data from Yahoo’s Flurry analytics shows that 90 percent of a consumer’s mobile time is spent in apps.
This is a key insight for any organization – your church included – to decide whether to a develop mobile app.
Your church might also consider how crowdfunding can fund mission trips for your members in the coming year. Again, the goal here is to borrow best practices from other organizations and apply them to benefit your ministry and members.
The term “crowdfunding” refers to the practice of funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the internet.
As with any type of fundraising tied to financial stewardship, crowdfunding requires intentional strategic planning and the support of staff and volunteers.
Despite the upfront work required, the innovation of crowdfunding is giving many ministries an infusion of committed capital and a new way of realizing mission goals.
Goal Four: Engage the Entire Congregation
Although the actual work of financial planning typically involves only a few key people, the success of your financial planning efforts will be dependent upon engaging the entire congregation.
Your members will want to be heard, even if they’re not a part of church leadership. How you pursue this goal can be as unique as your ministry itself.
Some ministries simply hold a meeting to discuss the church’s mission and purpose, lay out the annual financial plan, and join together in prayerful contemplation.
Others leverage other communication channels – from videos to podcasts to social media – to present the budget and programs for approval.
Decide on the method that works best for your church, but do commit to the goal of giving everyone a degree of ownership in church ministry plans.
MIKE BOBLIT is the vice president of ministry relationship banking at Evangelical Christian Credit Union. He has worked serving churches for nearly 16 years and leads the Ministry Banking Business Development team that serves ECCU’s ministry customers.