Financial Leadership Mistakes Churches Make

  • Low Expectations of members – Are people living up to our low expectations? How high do churches set the bar or are we just too scared that people will go away? In reality, people are more willing to live up to higher standards if they know what they are.
    o Set the bar as high as God sets the bar. To do less is to undermine God.
  • Low Teaching by leadership of biblical financial principles – Many church leaders are scared to talk about money because they don’t know how to. They don’t know how to talk about money because they’re scared to talk about it. They’ve got to get off the merry-go-round. Find a God-model for your talk on biblical financial principles – “just because the church needs it” or “because tithing is biblical” is not sufficient.
    o Make biblical financial teaching a regular practice. As with all habits, once you do it enough, you’ll get used to it and do it regularly. However, get a God-model to challenge your members.
  • Low Accountability of church leaders (both paid and volunteer) – Who holds church leaders accountable for what they spend and how they spend it? Do those expenses advance the Kingdom or are they just frivolous spending?
    o Can church members get a copy of the church’s monthly financial statements without hassles? If your church’s checkbook were posted online, would you be embarrassed at any expenses? Did they spend church money wisely? I have a saying that church money should work hard twice – once when the donor earns it and again when the church spends that money.
  • Low Transparency of church finances – Do churches have fuzzy numbers? A church’s monthly financial statements should be in a readily accessible place and questions should be answered clearly and completely.
    o Make your financial statement accessible. Answer all financial questions to the satisfaction of the person asking the questions.
  • Low Leadership and Management – Leadership is guiding the church toward a vision that captures most people’s imagination and gets them on board the ship. Management is ensuring that you have the right people in the right places on the ship and rowing in the same direction. Leadership is about positions; management is about people.
    o Every five years do strategic planning so that you know what positions your church needs in order to accomplish its mission and vision.
    o Then, find the right people to put into those positions even if it means letting go of some great staff. If they can’t lead the church in its strategic plan, then help them move on so that your church can move forward.
    o This means that every few years you’re going to kill some neat programs that no longer fit into the church’s mission and vision and you’re going to let go of some fine friends and colleagues. But you’re the leader of the church – decide what is most critical to the future of the church – its mission or keeping people and programs that distract from the main thing.
Lead On!