4 min read
Overseeing and managing the finances of a church is a big responsibility. Often, this is best accomplished by forming a Church Finance Team consisting of people who work together to provide oversight and direction.
Churches often elect or assign members to serve on a finance team responsible for the management and stewardship of church financial resources.
Ultimately, they work together to help sustain ministry and steward the church’s resources well. But what exactly is this team responsible for?
Church Finance Team Duties and Responsibilities
1. Giving Projections
It’s difficult to budget without having a realistic idea of how much money will be available.
This team takes a realistic approach to projecting incoming resources by analyzing historical giving, attendance patterns, and average member donations.
For instance, the team can run a report from your church management software that shows how many giving households you have. Then determine the average monthly giving for those combined households.
A best practice is to lean on the side of caution and base projections on real giving patterns rather than hopeful increases.
2. Creating A Budget
The church finance team assists in establishing the budget based on giving projections and allocates dollars to individual ministries & departments.
The leaders of those ministries and departments are then responsible for creating budget estimates based on the church’s strategy and goals.
Allowing leaders to prepare their budget estimates is a simple step that brings greater accountability, more accurate reporting, and increased reliability.
This also creates more buy-in from ministry leaders as they’re a part of the process and understand the reasoning behind it.
3. Budget Review
A budget is simply an itemized allotment of funds and therefore requires monitoring. The church finance team should monitor the budget monthly by reviewing the dollars that came in, the dollars that went out, and analyzing any variances.
Midyear adjustments may be made to the budget when projections fall short or unexpected expenses arise.
4. Emergency Funding
Even the best budget planning can go awry when an unexpected, major expense arises. To offset this, this team allocates a percentage of budget dollars to emergency funding.
Create a definition for an emergency and what situations qualify for use of these funds. Keep this fund growing year after year so financial resources are available when emergencies arise.
5. Financial Reporting
Systematic financial reporting helps the church see how it is performing and adhering to the budget. The church finance team creates monthly or quarterly reports and keeps church leadership aware of spending and budget variances.
They also report on any specific initiatives that require deeper insight such as a building campaign or debt-reduction effort.
6. Responsible Stewardship
Churches rely on the generosity and faithfulness of their members to resource ministry. Being good stewards of those funds is a primary responsibility of the church board and finance team.
There should be a way to tie every expenditure to its support of this mission. This team monitors and investigates any spending that does not support the church’s mission and vision.
7. Safeguarding Church Assets
The board, along with the finance team, is responsible for ensuring that there are proper financial controls of church assets. This group should write cash-handling policies and regularly audit the process.
Unfortunately, embezzlement in the church is not uncommon and this team is the safeguard against it.
8. Debt Management
At times, debt will be acquired to grow the ministry. However, a church is limited in what it can do if it’s riddled with oppressive and unwise debt.
The finance team should have a strategy for paying down debt through capital campaigns that are designated for debt reduction. Additionally, aggressive debt payments can be included in the budget to pay down the debt quickly.
The goal should be to get the church as close to debt-free as possible.
9. Member Financial Teaching
Faithful generosity among church members is often correlated with individual financial health. The church finance team can help increase this financial health by offering classes that teach good financial practices.
Teaching personal finance, budgeting, and financial management can help members get a handle on their finances which will include improved generosity.
A church finance team is essential for a church to faithfully steward its resources. Develop a team that is committed to budgeting, monitoring, and guiding how church funds are spent and your church will have healthy finances that resource your mission, vision, and strategy.