What Every Pastor Ought to Know About Money
by Rev. Margaret Marcuson
Here are five important things about money every pastor ought to know. Any one of them can be difficult to learn depending on your background, life experience and aptitude. This is not a 5 quick tips article. However, over time (in some cases, years) and with practice you’ll be better able to lead in stewardship and overall church financial matters.
- How to give. It’s hard to teach what you don’t know. You may have been raised in a family that was generous, or maybe you didn’t. You may have ample resources, or you may struggle under the weight of a small salary and large debt. Whatever your situation, prayerfully and thoughtfully consider how you can be generous and what God is calling you to give.
- Your own cash flow. Figure out how money flows into and out of your life and make note of your financial priorities.. Know whether you are facing a surplus or a deficit each month. Be sure you are making intentional decisions about spending, saving and giving. This will help with #1. I know we can have a lot of resistance to doing this. But I’ve noticed that not-knowing takes more energy than knowing. Facts can calm you down and help you take action, even if the bottom line doesn’t look great. And if you have a surplus, you can still make more intentional choices about how you use the money you do have.
- How to read a financial statement. I didn’t learn much about this until I had been a pastor for a number of years. I’ll ever be grateful to Andover Newton Theological Seminary for offering a Woodbury Workshop seminar on this topic which transformed my relationship with our financial reports. If you don’t have a business background, take a course or find a mentor.
- How to ask people to give. You don’t have to apologize or feel like you’re been intrusive. Remember, it’s a gift to give people the opportunity to give to causes they believe in. You can work on your learning in a couple of ways. First, help people grow in stewardship in their lives as disciples. The second way you can learn to ask people to give is to ask specific people with resources to support special projects. Many pastors never do this. If you have done a capital campaign, you may have had the opportunity to do this. I hated it at first, but I’ve learned so much, and have found it a blessing (and still growth-producing) to ask.
- That money is a tool. We shy away from money talk and from asking for money, as if money were suspect or even dirty. But money, given well, makes ministry possible. The flow of money can be a blessing.
Re-read this list. Which one can you choose to go deeper with now?
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 http://margaretmarcuson.com