Starting up and running a church is a lot of work. Organizations to create, fellowships to sustain, the faith of the congregants to bolster amongst other things. One of the deciding factors of the progress of every institution is its management of finances.
Churches make financial mistakes, too and these mistakes can reflect poorly on the church, distort the faith of the church community and deter the purpose of the church.
In this article, I’ll identify ten mistakes that church leaders make that could ruin the financial prospects of their church community.
1. LACKING A DEFINED VISION
A person embarking on a journey must determine the cost and arm himself with the needed resources. This is true of every organisation which intends to grow and spread God’s message of salvation, Proverbs 29:18 says that “Where there is no vision, the people perish …” This is absolute truth.
Churches that lack a clear-cut vision will invest in anything or make rash money decisions. If a church decides to preoccupy itself with the spiritual upliftment of its members, funding extravagant ventures will not be a thing of concern. This will guide them in being meticulous and intentional with accounts.
When this is not done, you’ll have a church of Christ’s children who will go to extreme lengths just to fulfil carnal desires instead of preaching God’s word and doing his will.
2. INVESTING IN TOO MANY VENTURES
The primary purpose of every church community is its growth and contribution to the success of its members. However, this could become problematic if the church is turned into a charity that funds every idea brought before its board.
Every church, especially in its beginning, should focus solely on the expansion and sustenance of the community. Extra activities like camping, symposia, although appealing, should be cut off if they do not fit into the church’s budget. Church leaders should draw up a scale of preference and stick to it to avoid running a deficit.
3. PAYING STAFF INSTEAD OF RECRUITING VOLUNTEERS
This is a common mistake that start-up churches make. In the rush to invite celebrity singers to minister during worship sessions and increase publicity, some churches spend huge amounts of money on hiring.
Sometimes, this also goes for simple tasks such as cleaning and even getting someone to play instruments. Organizing the community into groups and getting talented individuals as volunteers to do those jobs would go a long way in preserving the church’s funds from depletion.
Also, the church members will be stimulated to use their talents in serving God in various ways instead of letting them stay dormant like that of the unruly servant in the parable of the talents.
4. NOT PROVIDING CONCISE FINANCIAL REPORTS
When people put their money in something, they would like to know how that money is being spent. The accountability of every organization reassures its members and builds trust.
Some church leaders often use church funds without rendering accounts to the congregation and letting them question grey areas. Every penny that comes into the church’s purse should be recorded by responsible church elders.
They should also present this report periodically to the church community who should audit and question if need be. This will reassure the members of the church’s integrity and serve as solid reference in the event of a financial crisis. A vivid example of the benefits of a credible accounting system can be seen in 2 Kings 12:2.
Under the direction of Jehoash, one of the few kings “who did what was right in the sight of the Lord” the priests of Israel turned from the corruption and greed of the ministers before them.
A locked chest with a hole in the top was put in the Temple to receive the donations. When full, the high priest and a few officials would it, count the money and distribute it for the payment of the labourers in God’s church. This ensured that the money was used for its proper purpose.
5. NOT PROVIDING CHANNELS TO DONATE ONLINE
In a world that is fast evolving, it is best to keep up with new trends. One popular one is the practice of a cashless economy.
Churches that insist on analogue ways of receiving donations often run a loss people do not like writing carrying cash.
Having a systematic, secure and seamless way of giving will benefit the donor and the church. Online channels should be set up on the church’s blog or website to enable members to contribute at their convenience. This will aid accountability and help the younger generation feel more welcome due to developments geared towards accommodating their new quirks.
6. SAVING EXCESSIVELY
While the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ harps on the need for temperance and moderation, some churches hoard their money in other to meet targets or just for the purpose of having reserves.
Churches with cash in the bank without plans to invest it in things like cryptocurrency markets, real estate and stocks for Kingdom impact are a representation of poor stewardship of God’s resources. A church leader should thus, be wary of hoarding instead of dispensing the church’s resources for the growth of God’s church.
7. NOT TALKING ABOUT MONEY
Several God-fearing pastors have allowed the fear of being seen as carnal and materialistic to prevent them from being honest about finances in the church.
It is necessary that money, as an asset and tool for growth is discussed. Jesus taught about money and financial responsibility.
The Gospels are filled with references to topics related to money. Church leaders should devote a good portion of their time to running sensitization campaigns on the need for resources to sustain the church and prevent future grumblings that may arise on the issue.
8. NOT BEING GRATEFUL
As much as a lot of people are contributing with the idea that it is a sacrifice to God, they need reassurance. Church members and other contributors deserve to be thanked for their support.
When this is not done, they may feel unappreciated and refuse to work with the gusto with which they devoted themselves to service.
Words of appreciation, thank you gifts, and little accounts of how projects are going well will go a long way to stimulate support for the church.
9. NOT TEACHING THE GENEROSITY PRINCIPLE
As much as every church need support to grow, this cannot happen if the members are not devoted to service. Avoiding discussions or sermons about the need for charity will greatly affect the output of church members.
Matthew 6:21 says that “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be,”, this rings true for church members who are unnecessarily attached to their earthly wealth and shun charity.
To get people to experience a change, church leaders should help them grow in their understanding of stewardship generosity and how to live it out as Christians.
10. LEAVING MONEY DECISIONS IN THE HANDS OF ONE INDIVIDUAL
This is often common among new start-ups or new outposts. Church members may decide to let only one person handle the church’s finances with little to no checks. In financial matters, a person’s “integrity” is not enough. The human flesh is prone to temptations and mistakes.
These may become a problem if a body is not instituted to check possible shortfalls, the church could be face with shortfalls or extravagance that it may not be able to recover from.