Matthew 25:18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.
A new perspective on your church finances can open up some exciting new leadership opportunities and will dramatically turn up the heat on your evangelism efforts.
Unfortunately church budgeting and finances is usually a boring subject that we leave entirely up to non-visionary detail-types to handle. This is a costly mistake. While you definitely need details-orientated people to be hands on when it comes to the finances (unless you want to figure out the stapler budget for next year), without the leadership and vision your finances will become solely about controlling costs and never about seizing opportunities. This way of thinking will slowly strangle a business and will slowly strangle your church.
The startling truth is that some of our expenditures actually increase revenue and “turn a profit”. It turns out that the phrase “you have to spend money to make money” also applies to the church. While we always remain a non-profit legal entity, there are ways to spend a dollar in expenses that will bring two dollars back as revenue. Lots of ways!
Here’s the new way of looking at things. Typically a new person in a church will give $1000 per year (or about $20 per week). Therefore any time you spend money in a way that attracts (and keeps) a new person that expendature will be countered by the increased revenue the new person brings. For example, I recently spent $12,000 on an outreach campaign. How many people did we need to gain to have that outreach pay for itself within one year? Drum roll……the answer is 12. 12 people giving $1000 per year will balance out the $12,000 I spent on outreach. If we had only gained 6 people it would have taken two years to recover that expense, and every year after that would be, for lack of a better word, “profitable”. How many people did we actually gain from that $12,000 outreach? About 200. This means that for every dollar I spent on that outreach campaign I got $20 back in the first year. And they said we couldn’t afford to do outreach! You can’t afford not to do outreach!
Here are the financial questions you need to ask whenever you consider a new expendature:
1. How much will this cost?
2. How many people do we need to gain for this to pay for itself?
3. How many people are we likely to gain?
4. Is our current financial position strong enough to survive the wait between expense and the return on that expense?
Once you realize that some things can more than pay for themselves you have to shift into some serious possibility thinking and planning. Should we spend $20,000 for a new digital sign? $4000 on a series a radio spots? $2000 on an evangelism training program? $3000 on a big name guest speaker? $50,000 to renovate the Sunday School? $4000 to send staff to a training conference? All these questions and more are now questions about opportunities for growth rather than mere expenses to be avioded.
This fresh perspective on finances also allow us to be wise stewards and objectively evaluate our actions. As long as we take the time to collect the data we can see if it was a good idea to spend money on radio vs direct mail. We can see if spending money on assimilation was financially effective or if that Children’s Pastor’s conference is really paying off. We can even see which of our missions initiatives are worth additional support.
If we only look at our finances as being costs that need to be cut, then church budgeting will always be boring. However, if we see that wise stewardship reaches the lost, equips the found, and enables even more action in the future then your budget will never be boring again.
- Rick Warren on The Cost of Outreach (outreach.com)
- Finding Funds for Effective Outreach (outreach.com)