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“A solid budget and spending plan creates trust between church leaders and church members, which is important because so many people lack trust in churches to manage money well because of past experiences they have had.”

Happy New Year! As we kickoff this fresh year, we’re tackling an important topic: Church budgets.

Most people who find themselves on staff at a local church didn’t go to school for finance or accounting. Few (if any) seminaries have classes about creating or maintaining a church budget. Wise stewardship of parishioners’ tithes can definitely fall into the “nobody-taught-me-how-to-do-this” area of ministry. But if the local church is going to handle money in a trustworthy, God-honoring way while also funding the important work of ministry that church members do, establishing an effective church budget has to be a top priority.

Whether you’re getting ready to plant a church or you’ve become a leader at a centuries-old church that doesn’t have the most solid budget, the best time to create a church budget was yesterday. The second-best time to create a church budget is now.

But where do you even start? How do you create a solid church budget from scratch? Here are a few considerations to get you started down the right path:

1) Consider your values.

Before you get into the weeds of dollar amounts, giving trends, and bookkeeping details, you need to be sure that the budget you’re creating is reflective of your church’s values and the needs of your church family. If your church is mostly made up of young families, it makes more sense to allocate more funds toward the children’s ministry than the senior adult ministry. If your church sits near an underprivileged neighborhood where you do regular ministry, it probably makes more sense to allocate more funds toward that work than it does toward another ministry effort that, though worthwhile, doesn’t fit the work of your church body quite as well.

Ultimately, if you don’t make your budget align with the values of your church, it won’t matter how well you evaluate giving trends or track spending. Why? Because your church members likely won’t give with the same consistency and generosity as they would if your budget aligned appropriately with the values and unique context of your church.

2) Evaluate past and projected giving trends.

Most church giving experts recommend not relying too much on past giving trends or projected giving trends to create your church budget, but to consider both past receipts and future projections. Every church is different, but generally speaking, creating a church budget based on past giving trends may cause you to create a budget that is too conservative, and misinterpreting future giving trends may lead you to create a budget that overestimates the dollars your church will receive in the coming months and years.

It is a good idea to examine the last few years’ giving, figure out what the “minimum” giving situation may look like to give you a sort of baseline off of which to work, and then project some increase based on higher church attendance or other similar factors.

Again, every church is different and your church’s context may lead you to consider putting more emphasis on either past or future giving…and that is okay! Just be sure to consider all possibilities and not marry your budget to one or the other too strongly.

3. Track every dollar collected and spent.

A fine-tuned budget established by a careful evaluation of past and future giving trends and defined by the values and work of the ministry can be completely and devastatingly sidetracked by poor accounting. What good is a budget if church leaders aren’t intimately aware of how much money is being given to the church in a given week and how much money the church is spending in a given week? Creating an effective budget but not tracking giving and spending is like buying a $300,000 Lamborghini and letting your teenager use it for driver’s ed—it’s foolish and dangerous!

It’s true: tracking every dollar your church collects and spends can be cumbersome. There’s no doubt about it. But effective money management is the gasoline that makes an effective church budget run. By tracking your funds, you provide your church members with a sense of trust that they deserve, and you make your budget more effective for future years.

Budgeting is important! It’s important for families, and it’s just as important for church families! A solid budget and spending plan creates trust between church leaders and church members, which is important because so many people lack trust in churches to manage money well because of past experiences they have had. At the same time, a church budget that is created with your values in mind and maintained by wise financial tracking will make your ministry more effective and help you reach more people with the gospel that we have been charged to share with the world.

Don’t neglect your church’s budget! Make one today.

When you use One Church Software, all of your giving, accounting, and people records are seamlessly connected within your church management software. Learn more about accounting within One Church >>

The generous financial gifts of a local church congregation are the backbone of sustaining a local church. Money and giving are twin topics that are often taboo in a local church, and this can obviously inhibit giving and cripple the financial situation of a ministry. It isn’t very fun to think about, but doing ministry does cost money, and the generous giving of church members is needed if the church is to serve their community in tangible ways.

One of the greatest giving pain points in local churches is encouraging giving among young adults. Research shows young people trust churches and church leaders less than their parents or grandparents did at their age. This lack of trust can often lead to a lack of giving. Then, their lack of giving can hobble the ministry of the local church.

How does a local church encourage young families to give? Here are three practical steps:

1. Make recurring giving simple.

Very practically, churches must make recurring giving as simple as possible. Once upon a time, churches could count on members remembering to bring their tithes via check or cash every week, or perhaps once per month. With the digital revolution and the relatively recent phenomenon of electronic bill paying, few young people (including people well into their 30s and even 40s) carry cash or checks with any regularity. If your church only has physical giving options available, with no opportunity to automate giving electronically, you’re missing out on a lot of potential to make giving easy for this generation.

Young people are much more likely to regularly and generously give to the local church if they have a way to do so electronically. This obviously has nothing to do with the discipline of generosity that should be important to all believers. Not having an opportunity to give to a church through the internet is no excuse for not giving at all. But local church leaders should recognize that friction can be reduced for young people who want to give by providing plenty of opportunity to set up recurring giving via an app or other kind of payment service. This will ensure regular giving from young people.

But how do these people begin to give generously, rather than just consistently? See steps two and three.

2. Make your values, not your programs, the focus of giving.

Church culture changes over time. This is only natural and has happened generationally for hundreds of years. Worship styles change. How people prefer to gather changes. Preaching styles shift. The Word of God and the message of the Gospel stay the same, but all of the contextual pieces around “how to do church” are pretty fluid.

One way these changes have been manifested in our current context is in how young people view church. Evangelical churches in the late-20th and even early 21st centuries were built on programs. Many young families around the turn of the millennium flocked to churches with the coolest children’s programming, the nicest facilities, or the most fun youth ministry. Do many people still choose churches and generously give to churches for these reasons? Most definitely. But the tides are turning away from programs and more toward values and community.

Plenty of statistics abound about how young people make more decisions based on values than generations who have come before. Young people today are more likely to give to your church because of your values than they are because of your programs. Quality church programming became such an integral part of local church ministry that it was almost commoditized—quality church programming could be found anywhere. Now, with a generation of young Christians who have seen some of their most beloved Christian leaders fall out of ministry because of moral failure or even criminal behavior, they are more likely to give generously to a church with whom their values align and who they can trust than a church with the coolest children’s ministry programs or facilities.

That last point, focused on trust, is our third and final step:

3. Make your church finances and budget transparent.

There is absolutely no reason that church finances and budgets should not be transparent to church members. This doesn’t mean church staff need to project their salaries up on the big screen once a month, but it does mean that church members should have a breakdown on where finances go, so they can make an educated and confident decision as they give.

Church leaders who provide no transparency into how church money is used or how budgets are made have no leg to stand on when it comes to wondering why church members aren’t giving. Young people are more skeptical of church leaders and their authority than any generation in modern history. Church leaders today need to earn the trust and respect of young church members, and when it comes to money, trust and respect is earned with transparency.

Young families will give generously when they realize their values align with the church’s values and when they are assured that the people collecting and spending their money are trustworthy and of Christlike character. Then, churches can encourage frictionless, consistent giving by providing young families with electronic means to set up recurring giving.

Want to read more?
5 Ways We Should Talk About Money at Church
5 Reasons to Consider Text Giving for Your Ministry

Looking for an easy giving solution for your church? Look no further than One Church Giving, Our safe, secure, and fully integrated giving solution. Learn more here.

Is your church still using pen-and-paper to plan events and collect guest information? Do you find yourself going in and manually sending follow-up emails or confirming with volunteers? Are you trying to plan events based on the verbal RSVPs you got last service? There is so much going on at your church and if you’ve been relying on any of these methods of organization, it can probably feel pretty overwhelming at times.

Your time matters. There’s a lot happening each week and the last thing you need to do is to manage details that could be automated.

Here are six things you should be automating at your church so you can focus on what you were called to do — leading your church and reaching people for Jesus.

1. Guest Follow-Up

Are you still typing an individual reply to every person that fills out a connection card? Do you find yourself copying and pasting a past email each time you reach out to someone who’s new to the church? It might seem like a small thing, but the collective time and the diverted focus this task is likely causing is a big deal.

While you will still want to be aware of who is new to your church and specific prayer requests, automating a well-crafted welcome note that is sent shortly after someone submits their information won’t just save you time, it also greets new guests in a timely manner. You can also include resources and links to your upcoming events so they can take the next step sooner.

This is actually a really easy automation to set-up! You’ll get any replies straight to your inbox, but all you have to do is write at least one email (though you could set-up more) that runs in the background every time someone new is added to the system.

2. Giving Responses and Follow-Up

Statistics show that you should be thanking givers within 24-48 hours of their gift. Are you aware of when people tithe? Is thanking someone for giving a task that consistently makes it to the bottom of your list or that you feel is just assumed? Odds are if you don’t have an automated system here, some giving is falling through the cracks unnoticed and unthanked.

By automating your giving responses, you can make sure people get thanked right away. This lets people know that their gift went through and gives them confidence that they made the right choice in supporting the ministry. In this automated response, you could also include what their faithful giving has provided or even update them on any special giving progress.

3. Kids Check-In

If you have kids, you know how crazy checking them in can be. And with safety protocols to match up kids with authorized adults, it’s so valuable to have an automated check-in process here. (If you don’t have a process in place for check-in and security, you need to implement one ASAP! This is a crucial part of reaching younger families.)

By implementing an automated system, parents can check their kids in easily with automatically-printed labels containing all the information people need to know, from your child’s name to any allergies they may have. This system can also integrate into helping you track attendance throughout your children’s ministries.

4. Event Confirmations + Follow-Up

If you’ve tried to plan a church event, you know what a headache it already can be to figure out how many people to plan for, not to mention letting everyone know when dates, times, and locations change. So sending out a confirmation email and creating an updated list of event attendees are two things that should be done, but shouldn’t have to be done by hand.

Automating event lists (who’s attending) allows you to communicate with all the right people, rather than email blasting your entire church when the picnic gets rained out. Everyone who signs up gets added to a list. You can easily email (or text) just those people.

And by automating your event confirmations, you can send out event-specific follow-ups to go directly to the people that attended. This ensures people have the location, time, and any other details easily accessible come the day of the event.

5. Task Management

Have you ever had to track someone down to get a progress update about a task? It can be especially difficult in ministry, as you work with a lot of volunteers who help you in their spare time outside of normal work hours. 

By having an automated system to easily assign tasks and get project updates, you don’t have to spend hours or days playing phone tag with someone. And if you have recurring projects, there are many automations, like our Workflows, that will allow you to set up a progression of subtasks, such as sending a follow-up text to a new guest, updating a donor address, or finishing up plans for an aspect of the Sunday service.

6. Attendance Tracking

It’s helpful to know how many people are actually attending your church, and to easily see who is falling away from the life of the church. Or if your church is hosting an event, it’s valuable to easily be able to see who ended up coming and who wasn’t able to.

By automating your service resources through One Church Software, you can create a check-in system so attendance is taken automatically. As an added bonus, you can set-up a notification for a member of your team or an automated follow-up process whenever someone hasn’t made it to a few services (or a workflow trigger of your choice). This is a great way to make sure no one falls through the cracks!

This is just a short list of some of the things you can automate at your church to save you time so you can lead your church more effectively. If you are ready to start automating or are curious what other time-saving automations are out there, check out One Church Software’s features or reach out to see how we can help equip and organize your church so you are structured in a healthy way.