We’re all thinking about numbers this week since taxes are due today. Do you know your church’s numbers? Many pastors feel intimidated when reading church financial reports and having conversations about finance and stewardship.
Here are seven church finance numbers that deserve your attention:
- The relationship of spending to budget. Advanced: know what the spending flow is through the year. Some expenses are monthly, but many are not.
- Cash balance: the cash available to pay bills. And what is the trend month to month? If it’s going down, you may have a problem.
- The number of pledges at each level of giving, even if you don’t know the names.
- The percentage of givers on the board. It should be 100%.
- Net assets at the beginning and end of each year. You want to be able to see the trends.
- Giving and spending trends over the last three years. Advanced: know what the giving flow is through the year. No church receives one-twelfth of their giving each month.
- Amount of money that is unrestricted, or available to be spent on anything, versus restricted.
Many church financial reports are inadequate. In some churches finance committees and treasurers hoard the information. I heard of one treasurer who told the pastor the reports were “none of your business.” If you’re in a church like that, it may take some time to dig out these figures. Be patient, but don’t give up.
Other churches produce so many reports it can be overwhelming for the beginner. If church financial reports and conversations seem like so much noise to you, be patient with yourself. Pick one of these numbers and see what you can learn, then move on to another. Grace abounds!
Do you want to learn more? A great book is Ministry and Money: A Practical Guide for Pastors, by Janet T. Jamieson and Philip T. Jamieson.
If you love church numbers, celebrate, and find a colleague to mentor in this critical area of ministry.
Want to read more? Here’s another post on 7 things pastors must do in church finance.