The Business Side of the Church

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As another year begins, churches are dealing with the budget process; where the passion of the church mission and economics often come in conflict. As a career financial person with decades spent on budget/finance committees… a few thoughts for dealing with that conflict:

  1. Most pastors are not accountants. They focus on the true mission of the church: nurture, outreach and witness. Their work is to counsel and comfort people; not count money. A recent experience reinforced my appreciation of the pastoral role. A close friend and former pastor across the state faced serious surgery. My wife and I decided to be there for his 5 am hospital check in. For minutes that morning, I experienced what he does daily; leading the prayer for his family, his physician, and his recovery. That special time reminded me of why I must offer my talents so that my pastors are free to concentrate on their calling.
  1. Perspectives on finance vary widely among laypersons Laypersons involved in the budget process are usually active, loyal members. Often they have a program they want to favor…despite the economics. Respecting each other coupled with leadership by those who do understand finance and can offer reasonable compromise
  1. A ‘dash’ of encouragement beats a ‘dose’ of doom. Most churches have a “giving” versus a “spending” challenge. Encouraging generosity through positive communication trumps threats of program reductions every time. People who are committed will respond…if they are informed.

In short, I first support the primary mission of the church. I then find value in the role that laity…especially those with financial training…can provide to successfully support clergy with the business side of the church.

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Bill Reid is a career banker specializing in wealth management. Prior to his banking career, Bill practiced as a CPA for a national accounting firm and in private industry. He received a B.B.A. in Accountancy from the University of Mississippi and later graduated from the Securities Industry Institute at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Bill and wife Jenny are members of the First United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Most recently, he served as Chairperson of the Council of Stewards for his home church.

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