What Do Lay Leaders Need to Do about Church Finance?

Volunteer church leaders have a key role to play in church finance. Here are some thoughts on how you can make a difference, whether you are on the board, finance committee or team, trustees, or simply a key leader in congregational life.

1. Bring your best thinking. Can you truly get thoughtful about the issues at hand in church life? “I agree” or “I disagree” are appropriate responses to issues raised. It’s also fair to say, I’m not sure about that. I’ll have to think about it.” Don’t agree just because the pastor wants you to, or other people are recruiting you for their efforts. (And don’t disagree just because you don’t like the pastor…) Consider the best interests of the church’s ministry as a whole, not just your favorite projects or staff members.
2. Bring your questions. Make sure you understand the decisions you are being asked to make. If the pastor or other leaders get impatient, don’t worry. Genuine, open, curious questions are very important. Avoid questions with an agenda, “Don’t you think that…?”
3. Communicate directly with people about financial matters. If you have questions or disagreements, talk to the pastor or other leaders, not about them. Use e-mail to communicate information, not emotions.
4. Leave your fears behind. When money is tight, it’s easy to act out of fear. You and your church may have hard decisions to make, but do your part to make them reflectively, not fearfully.
5. Remain positive, but insist on facts. If the church has financial challenges, don’t pretend that nothing is wrong. Leaders have a responsibility to be clear on the facts.
6. Bring your faith. This doesn’t mean you ignore the facts, but do recognize that you are part of something larger than yourself.
7. Give, and make public that you give. Don’t accept a leadership position if you aren’t willing to support the church financially.
8. Be clear what you are responsible for and not responsible for. I’ve met church treasurers who were so worried about the church finances that they couldn’t sleep at night. If you have an important role, remember, it’s not all up to you — responsibility must be shared.
9. Insist that the pastor lead in this area. Encourage him or her to preach about money more often, to articulate a vision for ministry, and to show up at meetings where money is at issue.
10. Recognize that your own story influences your leadership in this area. Consider the messages you received about money and about giving from your family.

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