Practically speaking, how could you go about getting started in good and effective church finance operations? In this article we briefly consider the three stages of: initiation; oversight; and development.
Having covered the scoping and resourcing of your church financial management, perhaps you may now be ready to start implementing elements of the material contained in this overview guide. Or perhaps there is a long-established process in place that you are looking to review and develop.
In either case you may find these next steps to be helpful in initiating the implementation of the changes:
- Setup – establish your accounting software and configure this for your church, in terms of organisational details, chart of accounts, financial settings, GST settings, payroll settings, contacts and banking integration
- Tasks – implement and assign the various tasks and related recurring schedules to the responsible roles (you may also find it useful to keep a master log of all these tasks and schedules in a centralised format)
- Access – bring in the access connection for each person into the systems that they will be using (software, banking, email and so on).
- Workflows – setup the workflows and protocols for the flow of information or approvals from one role to another
- Support – create the assistance and escalation structures that are appropriate at the various levels of operation
- Review – build in a review process where the overall implementation is assessed for effectiveness and success, as well as periodic review of systems access
Once the initial setup of your church financial management is setup and reviewed, consider establishing a broader oversight of how the function continues to operate. This type of oversight could potentially sit with your church treasurer or administrator or executive.
The types of this you may want to monitor as part of this oversight could include:
- Crisis control – being able to step in with targeted support where they are urgent, significant or sensitive issues that were not anticipated and need direct attention
- Systemic breakdowns – perhaps in a process or communication or system. Flagging the issues and working out the steps to repair the damage and implement future improvements.
- Managing change – whether it’s a new system or change of helpers, anticipating what is going to be helpful in the change process and initiating this
- Proactive review – consistently at appropriate intervals exploring where operations could be further streamlined or enhanced
- External influences – being aware of updates to legislation or denominational requirements or socio-economic/market conditions that may affect one or more aspects of the church finance procedures or policies
Having this type of operational oversight form part of your deliberate management can help your church stay on the front foot in having a stable, sustainable and adaptable church financial management function.
A final area of integration that may get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of church life is that of development. That is, consciously considering how the financial function of your church can be enhanced over a longer time frame (maybe years) so that it is more effectively and seamlessly integrating with and supporting key growth areas.
We’d like to suggest the following as possible areas to consider in this regard:
- Planning – we started this book by considering the place of “better decisions” in your church life, and how the finance function can contribute to this. So, over time perhaps review how effectively financial information and analysis is flowing through to those who are exercising this decision-making responsibility. This could involve thinking about the financial performance and position of the church and what this may indicate in terms of concerns or opportunities. It could also involve thinking through ways to enhance alerts and warnings to reduce decision-makers being caught off-guard in their roles
- Ministry – we also considered the way the financial function of your church can serve to support your pastors, leaders and members in their ministry roles with the aim of “building disciples”. So, it can be helpful to have ongoing big-picture thinking on how financial management and reporting can further free up ministry time and headspace for your team.
- Communication – finally we considered at the start how the finance function can tie in to “boosting donations” – making it smooth and supportive for those giving to your church. So, it may be worth the occasional review to consider the flow of helpful and relevant financial information right across the church, to aid participation and engagement in your vision and mission.
Would you like to explore further topics related to church bookkeeping, church payroll and church financial management? eBook available now:
Your Handy Overview of Church Financial Management
(including your 80+ point Church Financial Management Overview Checklist)
This guide aims to provide a useful and helpful big-picture view – to assist you in further developing the financial function of your church in your context. Designed for church pastors, church ministry leaders, church officeholders, church admin teams, church treasurers and church members.
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