Recently I have had calls from treasurers and leaders in churches and non-profits who wanted to talk about the state of their organisation’s administration and finances.
Some of these people were not sure about the actual financial position, some were not sure of their status with the ATO (re outstanding taxes) and some were simply not sure of the financial position. It seems to me that many churches and non-profits have been lulled into a sense of security because the finances have been handled or managed, by the same person. I reviewed this in detail in the previous blog “Urgency of financial controls”.
People are seeking to improve their organisations – they are wanting to rise from their current circumstances which are quite different to 3, 10 and 20 years ago. People are looking to build or rebuild their structures to accommodate fresh life, new programs, new ways of operating. People are recognising that the old structures are inadequate and they will not support these expectations for improved financial management.
It is opportune now to address some of the underlying principles of financial management and administration for churches and non-profits. You will see that these points are especially relevant for churches and faith-based non-profits.
Whether this is the beginning of your new financial year or part-way through it is very important to go through this assessment.
The other background factor is the state of the economy. No matter your judgement whether it is uncertain, volatile, or dynamic or if the future will include recession, stagnation or hyper-inflation – no-one actually knows at this stage. However, the people who are involved in our organisations are making their own assessments and impacting our organisations.
We need real wisdom to navigate this stage and this season. The place to start is in the Bible – seeking God’s Wisdom.
Of all the stories in the Bible, there is one that stands out for me as an example of what we can do and how we can tackle the challenges.
Nehemiah is the person, for me, who stands above the crowd.
So how will this help with our quest to develop stronger and more agile administration and financial management?
There are 4 points for us to learn from his story:
1. An important baseline for me is that Nehemiah was a relatively ordinary person – not a king, not in the hierarchy, not in the ruling class at all. Anyone on the team can be involved.
Nehemiah was simply a servant, the cup bearer Neh 1:11
2. Next point is that he recognised the issue and decided that action was required to remedy the situation. He saw that there was a serious situation and took action towards a resolution.
When you see a situation that requires attention see it as an opportunity for further investigation. Check-out what is actually happening, talk with others, pray about the situation and seek the way forward. Just like Nehemiah – Neh 1:1-10, 1:11-2.6.
3. Then he co-operated with Ezra the priest so that their joint efforts would lead the people.
Neh 8 & 9. The work of restructure couldn’t be completed until the people rebuilt their live spiritually too. Administration and financial management require us to have sound spiritual lives and not just control of the mechanics of processes and procedures.
4. All of this resulted in success. I like what Nehemiah said so confidently:
“The God of heaven is the one who will give us success, and we His servants are going to start the building (the restructure)” Neh 2:20
The restructure was completed, at least the initial stages Neh 6:15-7:1, and the people were ready to celebrate. Success requires the input and efforts of everyone and not just a few and not just the leaders. The people who will live in the structure must be accountable for the structure and therefore they can be involved in its maintenance and improvements.
In the following articles in this series we will look into the ministries of Jesus and Paul for more Wisdom:
- explore how updated and relevant policies and procedures are the foundation for the successful structure of our churches and organisations and
- reflect on how we can implement restructuring or rebuilding.
Now is the time to prepare strong structures to facilitate the bold new ventures of our churches and organisations that are needed as we move into the future.