During this strange season of COVID many churches and ministries are struggling with matters of governance and financial management while the members are either oblivious to their situation or feel inept to do anything or be involved.
On the other side, it is in times of stress and strain on the finances and governance that it is important for people to be involved and find ways to be involved.
The finances are under strain because of
- the constraints on traditional giving procedures,
- people’s own finances are under stress because of changing incomes,
- the economy generally is under significant strain,
- communities are under a lot of stress because of the lockdown and isolation circumstances
This is a formidable combination of challenging issues faced by church ministry and management teams. Therefore, it is important for members to be involved to support and assist their teams to find ways through the challenges and be ready to be involved.
So many times as I talk with ministers, treasurers and admin people of churches I hear them talk of struggling with managing the finances:
- I’ve never done this before
- I can’t handover because no one else wants to do this
- I don’t have any training
- I want to help but I’m not too sure what I can do in the area of finances
- I’m not a bookkeeper
- I’m not confident with computers
Why are people so reluctant ?
Why don’t we talk about money and finances in church circles and get involved?
What is it about ministry finances that we think it unimportant enough to not discuss or be involved?
An interesting point is that Jesus did not hesitate to address topics of money and he didn’t shy away from helping people learn about money. Jesus didn’t just talk about giving He and the disciples were involved with money.
Now is an opportune time to be talking about church finances and governance and find ways to be involved. It’s not enough to say “we give this money (tithes and offerings) to the church for You Lord to direct how it is used”, “we trust the finance leaders in our church to manage the money, Lord please guide them”. Or there is the comment: “I/we don’t know much about managing money and so we leave it to the experts”
Many churches and ministries have struggled because the members have left the managing of finances to others and not been actively interested or involved. Risks have been ignored, overlooked or not addressed. We have witnessed the results of this with churches unprepared for this “strange season of COVID” because they had not developed:
- online giving procedures,
- a current accounting system such as Xero
- an active budget/forecast for the finances that can be “flexed” for contingencies
- current and interactive pastoral care lists
- alternative processes for contact with members
Each of these is necessary whether COVID or not
What can be done?
If you are already involved in the finances or governance of your church then this is a great opportunity for you to
- talk with your friends and other members about them being involved
- share with them the tips below
- encourage them to get interested by getting some background and information
- Guide or mentor them into involvement, like you are involved
What are some practical tips for an active interest and involvement?
✓ Ask questions about the finances
✓ Expect to receive answers that you and other members can understand and find acceptable
✓ Offer to help with the admin such as with the paperwork related to transactions
✓ Maybe you can see opportunities for improvements, changes or efficiencies
✓ Are you a ministry or department leader – do you participate in preparation of your ministry-budget?
✓ From your understanding of the church and ministry activities, review the risk profiles of the church and ministries
These are just some examples to help you consider your involvement and how you can participate and support the financial management of your church or ministry. Start by simply asking some questions.
Maybe this is your time to take a more active interest and involvement in the finances?