As another year begins, churches are dealing with the budget process; where the passion of the church mission and economics often come in conflict. As a career financial person with decades spent on budget/finance committees… a few thoughts for dealing with that conflict:
- Most pastors are not accountants. They focus on the true mission of the church: nurture, outreach and witness. Their work is to counsel and comfort people; not count money. A recent experience reinforced my appreciation of the pastoral role. A close friend and former pastor across the state faced serious surgery. My wife and I decided to be there for his 5 am hospital check in. For minutes that morning, I experienced what he does daily; leading the prayer for his family, his physician, and his recovery. That special time reminded me of why I must offer my talents so that my pastors are free to concentrate on their calling.
- Perspectives on finance vary widely among laypersons Laypersons involved in the budget process are usually active, loyal members. Often they have a program they want to favor…despite the economics. Respecting each other coupled with leadership by those who do understand finance and can offer reasonable compromise
- A ‘dash’ of encouragement beats a ‘dose’ of doom. Most churches have a “giving” versus a “spending” challenge. Encouraging generosity through positive communication trumps threats of program reductions every time. People who are committed will respond…if they are informed.
In short, I first support the primary mission of the church. I then find value in the role that laity…especially those with financial training…can provide to successfully support clergy with the business side of the church.