Do you dread meetings of your church finance team or committee? If so, you’re not alone. I often hear:
- “I feel SO uncomfortable dealing with money matters. It’s outside my comfort zone”
- “I get frustrated with the bottom-line mentality of business-oriented lay leaders. Everything can’t be quantified.”
- “The conversation is always about how much we don’t have and how much we need. It’s depressing and wears me out.”
Those are big concerns and I completely understand. Finances can bring up a lot of emotions and challenges. AND these meetings are critical to your leadership success. So here are three ways to make finance team meetings easier (for everyone):
- Prepare thoroughly. Develop your skills at reading church financial statements. If you need to find a mentor, whether inside or outside the church, do so. Even if you know a lot work to increase your skill level. There’s always more to learn. Do your best to obtain and review the statements in advance of the meeting. Ask questions of the treasurer or bookkeeper so you understand. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something-that’s how you learn! I discovered that the more competent I felt, the lower my anxiety was.
- Keep your sense of humor. Take a breath. Every leader has to grapple with finances and meetings. So lighten up about it. When I was a pastor, I always found that if I could stay light, I had a much better time at the meeting. My anxiety didn’t infect everyone else, and I was less vulnerable to the anxiety of others. I was less likely to get caught up in fear, blame or a sense of inadequacy. You are learning and so is everyone else.
- Remember that money is never the issue. This is true in families, in the wider society, and, of course, at church. Our anxiety focuses on the money. Keep your eye on the bigger picture of what’s going on in the congregation and beyond. If you can remember that it’s not “about” the money at all, it will help you keep your cool in the meeting. If there’s a financial crisis, ask yourself, “Why now?” What else is going on in the congregation and beyond? What is the history of this congregation in relation to money? Stay curious and interested and see what more you can learn about your church in every finance meeting.
I’d love to hear from you!
What has helped you in your leadership around church finance?
What helps you keep perspective?
And for lay leaders, how can pastors improve in this area?