Pastors and Church Finance: A Reflection by Rev. Margaret Marcuson, Part 2

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Pastors and Church Finance: A Reflection by Rev. Margaret Marcuson, Part 2

A team working together around the challenge of stewardship in the 21st century has worked hard over the past eighteen months to put together “The Generosity Project,” a pilot program running from Sept. 2017 – Dec. 2018 which will work to provide stewardship resources and support to a cohort group of pastors from New England regions. Members of the team have prepared blogs for “The Generosity Project” participants, which will also be shared on the ABCUSA website in the coming months.  To learn more about The Generosity Project, click here.

In January 2018, team member Rev. Margaret Marcuson, provides her thoughts about stewardship and giving.

Seven Things Pastors Must NOT Do in Church Finance

By Margaret Marcuson

1 – Do too much. Some pastors, especially in smaller churches, take on far too much responsibility for their church’s finances. Some tasks are better not done than to have the pastor do it. You are not the treasurer.

2 – Do too little. Other pastors want to do as little as possible. Even in larger churches, some clergy think it’s not their job to deal with the money (and some lay leaders are happy to have them stay out of it). In a well-functioning church, the pastor thoughtfully considers what his or her job is in relation to finances, and does it.

3 – Handle cash. Don’t put yourself in a position where accusations about mis-handling money can be made.

4 – Talk about money only once a year. Instead, make money a year-round topic. You’ll get used to it, and so will they.

5 – Complain about poorly performing treasurers, administrators or bookkeepers. Complaining about staff or volunteers rarely yields results. It’s an unproductive triangle. If changes need to be made, you will need allies, and a thoughtful conversation with key leaders will be necessary. That’s different from complaining.

6 – Be afraid of financial matters. Talk about the money, share your perspective, and to ask questions if you need to learn more. If your fear about money comes from your family story (likely), get some coaching to work on it. Any cost will likely come back to you in real dollars as you get a handle on your own anxiety.

7 – Take money decisions personally. Churches have their own processes for making these decisions, some of which go back to their founding. Chances are it’s not about you (even if the decision is about your salary).

Bio: Rev. Margaret Marcuson helps ministers do their work without wearing out or burning out, through ministry coaching, presentations and online resources. Margaret is the author of Leaders Who Last: Sustaining Yourself and Your Ministry and Money and Your Ministry: Balance the Books While Keeping Your Balance.  Get Six Ways to Last in Ministry at