Editor: Saw this interesting discussion-starter on William Thornton’s site, SBC Plodder. He agreed I could repost it here. From what I hear, churches that aren’t belt tightening and cutting back a little are more the exception than the rule.
One of the things about visiting different churches each week, my worship plan for the past seven months or so, is that there is almost invariably a financial statement available in the foyer.
I’ve been known to sneak one out for more careful review at my leisure.
To tell the truth, when I scrutinize another church’s financial statement I get a mild feeling of ecclesiastical voyeurism. It’s none of my business, but we all know how nosy Baptist preachers are.
I am gratified that most churches are forthright, open, and unashamedly transparent about their financial matters. Being wide open about church finances, lay it all out there for everyone to see and know, is a very healthy practice that helps clergy and churches alike avoid some of the more harmful effects that money can cause in a church.
What I am seeing, just about every Sunday, is a church that is behind on their budget.
I will admit to more than a modicum of concern about finances when I was a pastor. My favorite church committee was the counting committee and I would often, playfully tell the ladies (they were always ladies in the churches I pastored, except for honest-as-the-day-is-long Albert who was an all-in-one treasurer, counter, internal auditor, and check dispenser in my first church) that they needed to do a better job because the totals weren’t large enough.
One of the things I don’t miss is, dare I say it, the weekly concern about budgets, bills, and such. The Lord invariably took care of things but it would have been nice to meet a budget every now and then.
Count me as highly appreciative of the folks in church who give regularly, some who tithe, some who go beyond, some who give occasionally but who, together, make it possible to have paid, full time clergy who may focus on preaching the Word and ministering.
If I come to your church and you have a monthly financial report available, I’ll subtly fold one and slip it into my Bible. When I get home and read it, I’ll doubtless say a prayer for you and your church finances.
So…how’s your church doing financially? Do you lose sleep over it? How do you respond in your church if things are going south?
You have my prayers.