Team Series: Treasure/Finances, By Gena McCown
Times have changed. Churches often don’t have “treasurers” like they once did, instead they use accounting services. Everything is automated, including budget spreadsheets. Generally speaking, you can access the information in due time. Quite often we pay out of our pockets and get reimbursed versus using “petty cash”. There are many reasons to believe this role is one that could be retired. I’m going to disagree with that entirely, for the following reasons:
- Good Stewardship of Ministry Funds
- Checks and Balances
- Greater Accessibility
Good Stewardship of Ministry Funds – Money minded people are generally good with money. They are more apt to think through purchases and have long term sight into future spending needs. If you are thinking of a making a purchase, they will weigh and measure if it’s a need or want, if the ministry has the funds or not, or if there is a better way to use the budget. Eliminating wasteful spending is a great gift to any ministry, and we sometimes need someone who can reel us back in from our big dreams.
Accountability – When there is a person who keeps the ledger for the ministry, you tend to not have too many hands in the pot trying to get money at one time. I’ve witnessed situations where multiple were out shopping and “picked up” little something for a ministry. No one asked about it, just made the purchase and assumed they would be reimbursed. Having a person who oversees that area creates a check point for purchases before they are made.
Checks and Balances – In a church setting where funds are being deposited for multiple ministries and endeavors, all through the week., errors can happen. A person may put a check in the offering plate to pay for the retreat, thinking the accountant will see the word “retreat” noted in the memo section and apply it accordingly. Money may be handed to someone in the office, and it gets tossed in with the deposit without noting where it goes. It’s important to have someone in the ministry team tracking all the deposits and withdraws from the ministry budget. Several times throughout the year, your finance person can compare their accounting to the church account.
Fundraising – When you are the person looking at the account balance on a regular basis, fundraising is naturally going to come to mind. You are aware of how many times you have had to say no. It stinks having to tell one of your team members that they need to scale back their project or event. It is even more unbearable to break the news to the team that the registration for the next women’s retreat is going to increase due to lack of funds to offset costs. The person who fills this role will know the needs of the ministry that are not being met, the projected costs of the ideas that the team wants to add. (Note: In some ministries, it may be prudent to divide this particular need into a separate position. Larger ministries especially, would benefit from a Fundraising Leader AND a treasurer.)
Greater Accessibility – During a Women’s Ministry meeting, a great idea may be put out on the table to discuss. Do you want to wait 24+ hours to find out if their is room in the ministry budget, or would you rather have that information available on the spot? Having a team member who keeps track of the finances will give you that access to information. The church accountant (especially if they use an offsite service) may not be able to get back to you immediately, it could even take a few days. A team member who handles the expenses and record keeping is merely a text away. This is particularly vital during a time where you are planning for a large event.
How Do You Identify This Person?
- When pitching an idea, she is usually the first one to talk about the expense.
- She will always have researched the best possible price before she shares an idea or project.
- This is someone who regularly presents ideas for fundraising, notices budget needs.
- She is one who would never spend money on the ministry without checking in with the leader/team members first.
- In her personal life, business life, she is fiscally responsible.
- She may be an accountant, or served as a “treasurer” for other organizations, ministries, or clubs in her past.
- Usually a Type A personality, analytical, enjoys math and “crunching numbers”.
Her Spiritual Gifts May Include:
- Discernment / Wisdom / Knowledge