Finance Fridays: The Church Plant’s Back Office
Today I am excited to introduce Josh Henry, managing partner of The Church Business Guys. Josh and his team have a whole suite of services aimed at making the lives of pastors easier. I asked Josh to talk a little bit about a church plant’s back office, and some of the things that a church planter needs to think about from a business perspective when getting their church started.
Welcome to the world of church planting.
We all come into ministry with high aspirations of growing a church, reaching people with the Gospel and developing missional disciples to go and share their faith. Seminary has trained and equipped us with the ability to study theology and explain the deepest tenets of our faith. You’re an equipped pastor ready to go.
But wait, oh yeah, by the way pastor, you need to run a business while you are at it. While you are out ministering to the needs of your community, you are also responsible to make sure your church has the necessary operating capital to pay bills. You need to watch expenses so that the money is being used wisely. You need to be the best stewards of every penny that comes through the offering plate. And you also need to be prepared to report about the financial health of your church to your donors and supporters.
Sound like a daunting task?
It doesn’t have to be. Let me unpack just a few processes that you should put in place to guarantee fiscal responsibility for your new church plant.
Put systems in place early: even when you are small and the amount of money coming in and out seems very small, establishing a good system will yield strong benefits down the road. Some things to think about in your system.
As a new church plant with very few people this can be tough. However, separating duties insures that everything done with your finances is done with full integrity:
- Have at least 2 people counting money that gets donated.
- Those 2 people initial or sign a form of the deposit.
- Have someone else, not a counter, take that money to be deposited in the bank.
- If possible, have a different person than the previous 3 handle the bank reconciliations monthly.
We know funds are TIGHT in a new plant, but some of the best investments that a planter can make is to bring on professionals at the outset. Some areas to seek professionals are:
- Legal. Find an attorney to help with your initial documentation as an organization. The church incorporation papers and non-profit status which can vary by state are two of the most important pieces to get your church started.
- Web and Graphic Design. Lets face it, we live in an advertising world. People are going to the web for just about everything they want to find out about. We have found that 85% of people will look for your church online BEFORE they step foot in your door. Get a professional to develop your website and logo to make the best first impression possible. It may be the only chance you get.
- Bookkeeping. Just about every accounting firm in the country will offer bookkeeping services. Accurately maintaining your financial records is crucial for your church. There are also some companies out there that offer solutions and focus on churches…hint, hint!
Learn to Delegate
If you’re like most church planters we meet, you are a type A, hard driving person that wants to take on the world. That is a great personality trait for a planter, however, can lead to problems if not handled carefully. The first people that often get affected by a planters lack of delegation are his family. BE CAREFUL to not neglect your family in planting your church. Many of the options above are areas that you need to delegate to maintain sanity.
You are called to preach and grow a church, not be the business man. You are ultimately responsible, but by putting sytems in place early, you can insure the most optimal chances of success from a business aspect of your church.