Imagine with me that Pastor Rick is talking with Ernie, the financial team’s chairman, about the church’s budget:
“This has been a difficult year financially,” Ernie says. “Since the glass company closed, giving and attendance has decreased. The financial team is recommending we reduce our percentage of missions giving, and that you pay a greater portion of your health insurance.”
Pastor Rick responds, “Ernie, I realize how difficult this information is for you to share with me. Can the financial team meet next Monday?”
Pastor Rick opens the gathering with prayer and reads Acts 20:28. He reminds the team that their guiding principle is to be faithful to the church’s mission to glorify God. He challenges the team to answer these questions:
- What are current giving and attendance patterns by age group? What is the per capita giving of each age group for the last two years?
- In which months is the greatest cash flow necessary?
- How can we eliminate debt?
- Can we establish a maintenance schedule for replacing major items over the next three years?
- What have churches done that have faced a similar financial situation?
- Who will contact IBSA and request a financial consultation?
At the next meeting, the financial team gives their reports and writes their recommendations, which include:
Electronic giving will be made available to encourage weekly stewardship. Based on per capita offerings, weekly giving could increase by $349.
Group health insurance for both staff members will reduce the annual premium, maintain comparable coverage, and provide coverage for the part-time worship pastor.
A major equipment replacement schedule will be in the church’s budget.
The church will prepare for emergencies with a contingency fund three times the church’s monthly giving.
The church will transfer its current savings to the Baptist Foundation of Illinois. The higher interest earned will continue the church’s current level of mission’s support.
Doug Morrow, BFI Executive Director, will help church members desiring to establish estate plans, creating a future revenue stream for the church.
The lesson of this parable: Solutions to stressful situations are possible when all parties take responsibility for finding solutions that glorify God.
Sylvan Knobloch is IBSA’s director of church leadership.