Some traps church business administrators need to avoid
(cross-post from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)
The urgency of things that must be addressed now can take focus away from bigger issues that have long-term payoff. Verne Hargrave, CPA, of PSK has started a good series on traps that business administrators can fall into because of tyranny of the urgent.
Looks to be a very helpful series. Would be worth your time to visit his blog regularly. Maybe even set it up on your RSS feed. I’ll highlight it occasionally.
Ten Things to Avoid in Church Administration starts the discussion. Mr. Hargrave points out a few problems that can arise if tyranny-of-the-urgent takes over your life:
- The inability to make good decisions
- The inability to report reliable results of ministry activities
- The loss of credibility of leadership
- The loss of faith by the congregation in leadership’s ability to guide the church.
Trap #1 Operating without a plan – Short-term plans discusses the need to have an annual budget.
We are all familiar with the financial role played by a budget.
There is a spiritual role for the budget as well.
The church budget also has a spiritual role in that a church budget is simply the congregation’s vision for the coming year, stated in dollars.
A budget expresses the visions and dreams of the congregation in line-item numbers.
Trap #1 Operating without a plan – Short-term plans (continued) discusses the need for a written policy manual addressing accounting and management policies.
Thinking through issues before they happen can prevent trouble later. Mr. Hargrave gives a great illustration of how a gift acceptance policy (major non-cash gives must be approved by a specified group before the church accepting the gift) could prevent a financial disaster.
He then outlines 16 topics to address in the policy manual.
For some believers, planning and budgeting are bad things. There are many reasons this is faulty reasoning for a believer. Mr. Hargrave provides a short response to that idea:
It is true that the Bible cautions us to not presume on the future. (James 4:13-15) But, churches are also called to be good stewards. As long as the church is acknowledging God’s will in the matter, part of good stewardship includes making some long-range plans. Failure to do so could result in disaster.
We ought not be anxious about anything (Phil 4:6) or worry for tomorrow (Matt 6:34) . Simultaneously, getting ready for tomorrow is part of today’s responsibilities. That is a part of stewardship.
Planning should consider facilities.
The PSK team invited a fire marshal to speak at one of the breakfast meetings the firm offers its clients. His explained why firefighters have special concern about fires in churches. Even more than there being large volumes of combustible paper and fabrics, the facility planning is usually haphazard which means the physical structure is a hodgepodge of construction. This leads to danger for firefighters because of the
confusing maze of hallways, cubbyholes and dead-ends.
Check out the posts. They appear to be about 300 words long, which makes for a quick read. You can fit in one post a week. It will be well worth your time.