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Just like a household budget says a lot about a family, the church budget says a lot about a church.
What does your church think about missions? Look at the budget. What does your church think about outreach? Look at the budget. How much is your church spending on operating costs or building programs? Look at the budget.
Larry Burkett used to say, “Show me your checkbook, and I’ll show you your priorities.” The same can be said for churches. Spend 20 minutes looking at your church’s budget, and you’ll quickly be able to tell its priorities. That’s why it’s so important for the church to be open and honest with the congregation.
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Demons hide in the dark. When you shine a light, the demons run and the angels smile. Church leaders should always welcome accountability for how they manage the church’s resources (i.e. God’s resources).
The church as a whole—not just the church leaders—must have the opportunity to see the budget. Everyone needs to be involved.
Now some churches say that the church members won’t be able to “grasp” the budget. If you have a large church with a multi-million dollar budget, then that may be the case. Maybe they won’t be able to grasp the budget.
But the church has the right to know how the hard-earned money they give is being used. You don’t have to babysit them and walk them through every single line item, but they have the right to know and you have the responsibility to tell them. Why would anyone want to go to a church that keeps that information secret? Do they need to see everything? Of course not. But they need to know what’s going on.
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In practical terms, this doesn’t have to be complicated. All you’ve really got to do is schedule a meeting once a year to talk about the budget. Let the church be involved in this process.
But, for instance, if you are late in the year and way off your budget projections—which force you to make some serious cuts in other areas or let go of staff—then the church needs to know that. Maybe a situation like that deserves another meeting during the year.
This isn’t difficult. You just need to take some time to schedule an annual meeting and work through any issues that come up. You’ll build trust with your congregation once they see how well you are managing the money they give.
Dave Ramsey’s Momentum is a church-wide journey that will transform the way your church views money and giving. Learn how you can be a part of it.