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Budgets and Finance

It is important for congregational leaders to take care of their church budgets. This collection of books and articles provides valuable insight on church budgeting and finance.


7 Resources
Accounting and Money for Ministerial Leadership: Key Practical and Theological Insights
This book written by a seminary professor introduces faith leaders to basic accounting,...
Ministry and Money: A Practical Guide for Pastors
Written by an accounting professor and theology professor, this book is a practical overview...
The Budget-Building Book for Nonprofits: A Step-by-Step Guide for Managers and Boards
This workbook provides a comprehensive and systematic approach to budgeting, ranging from the...
Money and Faith: William G. Enright and the Big American Taboo
This article teaches the redemptive link between faith and money, highlighting a philosophy...
Construction Cost is Only Part of the Church Project Budget
This straightforward article lists the phases of a building project and highlights costs to...
African American Church Management Handbook
This thorough handbook has advice for all aspects of management in the Black Church including...
Setting Wages and Benefits for Church Staff
This five-part guide provides technical and creative insights to manage personnel, budgets...

Guest Contributor

Kate White

Kate was the associate director for resources at the Center for Congregations. She managed educational resources and worked to get the best resources into the hands of congregations.

Church Budget Examples

For those who work behind the scenes of a congregation, they may find themselves needing to make sure that they have a strong church budget in place. It is a good idea to take a look at a few church budget examples for guidance. If leadership is trying to run the congregation without a strong financial background, then it may help them to know that they are not alone and that there are, in fact, lots of other religious leaders out there who find themselves in the same boat. With this in mind, it can be a good first step to take a look at resources such as a church budget sample PDF to learn more.

It might also be a good idea to look into sample church budgets, in order to see how other religious organizations are spending their money. For instance, how much money is necessary to spend on the congregation? How much money needs to be budgeted to successfully keep the lights on? What does leadership need to do if they are going to hire someone else? They might need to take a good look at how they can spend their budget so that they can help make sure that every dollar goes as far as possible.

For example, in the case of a large religious organization, there are likely going to be a lot of moving parts that are necessary to manage. In a lot of ways, leaders may end up in a position that functions similarly to that of a CEO. In addition, it might be helpful to take a look at a small church budget. There are plenty of groups out there that have relatively small budgets that they are able to then spread across a lot of areas. Congregations might be surprised, in fact, at just how far they can get their money to go if they budget accordingly.

Church Budget Template

If religious groups are busy trying to set up their budget, it may be the case that they simply might not know how to get started. Perhaps the first thing they should do, though, is taking a look at a church budget template. This is likely going to be able to provide them with a sample church budget that they can use to help guide them during the process. It might also prove to be worth taking a look at a church budget template PDF, in order for leadership to make sure they are not overlooking anything. For instance, there are a lot of church excel template options that can be used to help automate a lot of the arithmetic that is going to be used to check the group’s expenses against its income. A church ministry budget template can go a long way in helping a congregation to make sure that they are able to account for all of their expenses.

There are a lot of things that may be good to think about when a congregation is trying to set up its church budget. The first thing they may want to do is take a look at their real estate expenses, followed by sizing up their utilities. Finally, it can also be good to account for staff salaries. It can be good to keep this in mind when they are trying to find the right template for their budgeting purposes.

Remember, templates are naturally going to come in many shapes and forms. In some situations, a template for a large church organization with multiple branches might be a better fit, while in others, leadership might prefer to go with a smaller template that is designed for a church that has only a few people in its ranks. If they make sure to choose the right template, they will be able to better place themselves in the best position possible to be successful, as they design their own church budget. It can be good to bear in mind, however, that it may also be necessary to alter this charge budget as time goes on. There may be a new source of income that the group has to account for, for instance, as well as new expenses that have to be covered.

Church Budget Categories

When it comes to managing a church budget, there are lots of categories that might be good to consider - and it can prove to be good practice for leadership to make sure that they do not overlook any of these categories because they will likely want their congregation to be placed in a solid financial position. In a lot of cases, church budget categories are addressed at numerous church budget meetings. As long as the group has a firm plan in place, they can help get the most out of these meetings.

Perhaps the first category to consider is that of real estate. How much money is leadership going to spend on the building itself? For example, they might be paying rent every month, and as such, it can be worthwhile for the group leaders to take this into account as a key part of their budget. Or, they may have a mortgage that they have to pay if they own the property. With this in mind, it might be a good idea to try and think about real estate first. Ideally, the congregation’s real estate expenses are likely going to be the same every month.

Next, it can also be good to think about utilities. Some of the most common utilities will typically include things like cable, internet, gas, water, and electricity. Keep in mind that the group’s utility expenses may wax and wane over the course of the year. For instance, leadership may find itself spending more money during the summer if they are running the air conditioning all the time. Or, conversely, their utility expenses may go up during the winter if they have to run the heater. Therefore, it can often prove to be a good idea for leadership to budget for their utilities appropriately.

Finally, it can also be good to consider the salaries of the leadership staff. Of course, it might be possible that some members of the leadership staff are volunteers, while others have salaries. If the congregation is planning on hiring someone new, it can be helpful to make sure that they account for this salary, as well. Once they have all of these overhead expenses in place successfully, though, they can draw from them against their profits. And once a firm budget is properly in place, they can propose it during their next meeting.

Proposed Church Budget

Once leadership has a church budget in place, then it is now time to formally propose it. Perhaps one of the first things to understand here is the difference between a budget proposal and an actual budget. A proposed budget is a hypothetical situation based on prior numbers. For example, leadership may propose a budget with certain utility expenses in place. A proposed church budget is different from that of an actual church budget, in the sense that an actual church budget will contain the firm numbers once the expenses come in.

When leaders are looking at a church budget proposal, there are a few common practices that might be good for them to follow. First, they may want to provide a range on their ministry budget proposal template. For instance, they might estimate that their expenses are going to fall within a certain range - and this way, they will be able to leave some room for error, if their expenses ultimately happen to come in higher, or lower, than expected. Next, they might also try and provide everyone with a copy of the budget before the meeting starts. That way, members will have a chance to review it ahead of time and bring forward any questions or concerns they may have to the meeting. This can help shorten the meeting time significantly. Finally, they might also consider making sure that everyone is able to walk away from the meeting understanding what the next step is, regarding the budget. That way, nobody will be confused in terms of what is happening with the church’s finances.

Church Budget Forecasting

Once a congregation has its budget in place, it may be good to even go one step further, which is where church budget forecasting can be helpful. With church budget forecasting, the group is going to estimate what their expenses are likely going to be in the future, based on what they have been in the past. For example, they want to make sure that they have a list of expenses. That way, they will be able to know what they are forecasting in the future.

For example, if it gets cold during the winter, then leadership may want to know how much extra money they are likely going to be spending on the heater. One of the ways in which they can do this is to take a look at what their utility expenses had been for the same month during the year prior - because naturally unless their building has changed significantly, there is a good chance that their seasonal expenses are going to be pretty similar to those of the same time last year. It can be quite helpful to forecast a church budget in the future because this will help to let leadership know how much money they will have leftover. For instance, if they are planning on expanding the congregation, then one of the things they might need to know is how much money they are going to spend in the near future. That way, they will be able to have a better idea of whether they have enough to cover their current overhead expenses.

Church Budgets

Ultimately, it can prove to be important for religious leaders to take care of their church budgets, as church budget statistics and church budget line items can be a key element to pay attention to when it comes to managing their finances. If leadership does not manage their finances appropriately, then they may find themselves quite surprised when a bill comes in. Then, they might even run the risk of over-drafting their bank account. Fortunately, though, there are plenty of outside resources available to help a congregation balance its budget accordingly.

There are several common problems that leadership may run into if they are trying to build a church budget. Perhaps without a doubt, the biggest problem is the unknown. Leaders simply do not know whether they are going to have any surprise expenses in the near future. Therefore, it can be seen as a good idea to budget for them accordingly. And if they find themselves simply needing assistance in managing their budget, it might be helpful to reach out to a trained professional for help. Or, they may even want to consider reaching out to other religious leaders, to see how they have handled these issues in the past. That way, they will be able to more successfully work to keep their finances in a good position.

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