4 Mistakes Leaders Make During Finance Updates

  • 16 November 2017
  • Keith Reed

Church finance updates can do more damage than good. The message often feels the same—church giving is behind but there’s a chance to meet budget by the end of the year if everyone picks it up.

Have you ever considered how this message can be interpreted by your congregation? 

Don’t get me wrong—much good can come from a carefully delivered financial update. But there are many things church leaders can say that communicate the wrong message. Here are four messages to avoid when giving a financial update: 

1. Don’t apologize

Of the 38 parables that Jesus taught, 16 address the theme of money and possessions. And yet, many church leaders feel the need to apologize whenever money is discussed.

Let’s remember that financial matters are primarily matters of the heart. Church finances go well beyond the numbers; they paint a picture of church health and ministry accomplishment. Wise stewardship is important, mission accomplishment is important, dependence on God is important, transparent conversation is important. Don’t apologize for any of it. 

2. Don’t make it about the budget 

A church budget is simply the financial means by which a church fulfills its mission. But many financial updates treat a balanced budget like it’s the bullseye. Let’s think about this for a moment—what is more inspiring: mission accomplishment or a balanced budget? Did Jesus establish the church to make disciples or to finish the year in the black? 

I’m not discounting the importance of fiduciary responsibility—it’s critical. But it shouldn't be talked about as if it’s the ultimate thing. A balanced budget is the means, not the ends. The budget doesn’t make disciples; the budget enables the community to be equipped to make disciples. So instead of emphasizing bar graphs and numbers, tell stories of how your church is fulfilling its mission as a way of highlighting the importance of giving to your church. 

3. Don’t give a halftime speech 

Too many finance updates sound like mellow halftime speeches that frustrated coaches deliver to their underachieving teams. The tone of updates like this leave the church feeling like they need to “pick it up” or “dig a bit deeper” if there’s any hope of catching up before the fiscal year ends.

She Shared Her Bank Account with Us

  • 28 March 2014
  • Randy Wollf

Cheque bookA number of years ago, a dear widow in the church where we were pastoring came to our home and explained to us that she would like to share her bank account with us. At first, we didn’t grasp what she was offering. We finally realized that she wanted to share her money with us, similar to how the early Christians had everything in common (Acts 4:32-37). After picking ourselves up off the floor, we accepted her generous offer.

When I read about how the early church shared everything, I wonder why many of our North American churches don’t experience this kind of community. Sometimes, I see it in small churches and in small groups where people hear about personal needs and have the relational connection that motivates them to help their friends. I long for this kind of deep community where people are so close to each other that they are prepared to do whatever it takes to support, encourage, and challenge each other. Who knows, maybe in this kind of community, we might even choose to share our bank accounts with one another.