5 Common Mistakes in Preparing Church Budgets

Our guest blogger today is Art Rainer, VP for Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Seminary and one of the co-founders of Rainer Publishing. He is also the creator of “Envelope3,” a new church budgeting tool. You can follow Art’s blog at www.artrainer.com.

Every pastor and minister looks forward to their church’s budget season.

Well, not quite.

If you talk to most pastors and ministers about their church budget, they usually respond with either a sigh or a groan. Much like a conversation on personal budgeting. But, a church budget is a powerful tool, so it’s important that we pay attention to them and how they are created.

Here are five common mistakes every pastor and minister should avoid when it comes to their church budget:

  1. Viewing it as a necessary evil. As mentioned, a church budget is a powerful tool. It plans out the allocation of resources for the year. This allocation has a significant impact on the trajectory of the church for that year. Preparing a church budget is a leadership opportunity, not a necessary evil.
  2. Not reflecting the church’s mission. Here is how to leverage a budget to lead—make sure it reflects the vision and mission of the church. It is usually a mistake to simply adjust a prior year’s budget for future ministry. Every budget should reflect the mission and vision for that upcoming year, not the mission and vision from ten years ago.
  3. Not using math for anticipated giving. Not that faith should be totally absent, but remember that it is God who gave us math. Use it to ensure that you don’t create a budget that you cannot meet. An unreachable budget leads to discouragement, not just for the staff, but the church as a whole.
  4. Not assuming that future adjustments will be necessary. A budget is a plan. And, almost always, plans have to be adjusted. They probably won’t go exactly as you anticipate. So, go into the new budget year assuming that changes will occur. Help your staff to understand this as well.
  5. Not being prayerful during the formulation. You are using individuals’ gifts to God for ministry, so there should be a sense of gravity when preparing the budget. Godly stewardship should be primary. Cover the budgeting process in prayer.

Church budgets can either be a catalyst or a hindrance to a church’s vision and mission. Pay attention to the church budget, and avoid these common mistakes.

NOTE from Chuck Lawless: Envelope3.com is Art's new tool to help with your church budget. This tool allows you to compare your church budget with others and provides an immediate analysis of your budget. Plus, Envelope3 has a rapidly growing resource sectionYou can check out Envelope3.com here.

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