Plenty of pizza or loaves and fishes?

By Dave Anderson-Church Accounts Mgr. YCA

You were probably a youth pastor or kids pastor at one time in your career as a pastor.  Do you remember the frustration of wanting to purchase something you needed for ministry, only to be told that the funds were not available?  

You’ve probably tried to make $5 pizzas work like loaves and fishes!

Often leaders will give staff little information regarding finances and just tell them yes or no as requests are made throughout the year.   This often causes frustration because they don’t understand the reasoning and have no involvement in the planning.

Staff pastors should be part of the budget making process.  They should have ownership of their budget. A good leader teaches them to manage their ministry by planning their calendar and purchases to fit a well thought out and approved budget.  This puts the planning and decisions on them.  Teams are more likely to embrace budget adjustments if they are part of the process.

A healthy departmental budget process might work like this:

1:            Lead pastor defines mission of church. Clearly communicates it to staff.

2:            Financial leadership team of church determines total operating budget for                church, then breaks it down by ministry.  Budget should reflect the mission.

3:            Department heads are given the yearly total for their departments.                       Let them suggest how it should be spent. Instruct them to write monthly budgets that steer their ministry only towards the mission of the church.  Budget should include things like:

·        Daily Supplies

·        Total cost for each event on their calendars

·        Upgrades to technology

·        Any curriculum or subscriptions

·        Conferences, training, etc.

·        Travel

·        Others

Every cost should be planned and budgeted for.  This process forces staff to strategically plan budgets and calendars to drive towards the mission most effectively.  

4:            Completed budget is submitted to the Financial Leadership team for review. Suggestions and changes can be made until the budget is ready for approval.

5:            Staff are required to stay within the budget that THEY created. Monthly reports are made available to them to track spending. They won’t have money for purchases only because THEY did not plan or spend properly.  

Giving staff a voice in the budget process creates unity with leadership.  It forces them to carefully think through spending and events. They are more likely to drive towards the defined mission.

Staff pastors will make mistakes and there is a definite learning curve.  There may be a time when a leader didn’t budget enough for chips at the New Years Eve party. Use it as a learning experience, forcing them to get creative.  (You can also show grace if you want!)

Each year the process will get easier and be more accurate.

Think about the staff you have.  Do you want them to be great leaders one day?  Start teaching them now to intentionally manage finances to accomplish vision.  

One day they won’t be trying to make $5 pizzas into loaves and fishes!

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