governance

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.

How to Build Strong Staff-Board Relations

  • 24 April 2017
  • Randy Wollf

The growth of an organization often depends on the strength of the working relationship between its board and staff. Stephen M.R. Covey writes:

There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world—one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love. On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life. Yet, it is the least understood, most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time. That one thing is trust. {1} 

Trust is the foundational element for building a strong board-staff team. Yet, how do we build trust in this strategic relationship? Here are some ideas to consider:

1. Spend time together

There is no substitute for just hanging out together in a relaxed, fun environment. For example, in the churches where I have served, we have done board-staff meals and retreats. When I was starting out in pastoral ministry, my lead pastor would remind the staff team to make the most of our overnight leadership retreats by spending time with non-staff leaders. It was prime time to build relationships.

The primary relationship in the board-staff team is between the lead pastor and the chair/moderator. If you are one of those people, make sure that you meet with your counterpart once or twice a month (preferably for a relaxed discussion over coffee or a meal). Build a strong relationship even as you discuss church matters.

It’s also important to encourage or even structure regular interactions between individual board members and staff.

Relationships provide the context in which trust can flourish.

2. Over-communicate