Financial guidance for faith-based organizations

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Faith-Based Financial Guidance: Tips to Oversee Church Finances

Faith-based finances are complicated. They require the knowledge and capabilities to tackle cold, hard calculations while maintaining your ministry’s big-picture mission and values.

If you want your church to thrive, both spiritually and financially, you need to infuse your finances with Biblical precepts and solid church accounting practices. Here are a few suggestions that can help. Use them as financial guidance to align your church’s finances with God’s will for your ministry.

Start With God

This is the obvious and necessary first step in the process of faith-based finances. Where is God in the midst of your church’s money management?

God is the provider, the planner, and the executive of our lives, both on an individual and a collective level. God’s intimacy and involvement aren’t reserved for spiritual needs. They extend to financial ones, too.

With that in mind, what is God telling you about how to handle your church’s finances? Have your leadership team sincerely pray about this. You can also look to the Bible for sound financial wisdom. Here are a few verses to get you started:

  • Galatians 6:10 talks about the need to “do good to everyone” especially within the church. This can be seen as a call to serve one another through ministries and other services …which often come with a price tag.
  • 1 Timothy 5:17-18 addresses the need to pay church leaders and elders. The way you reimburse your church leaders matters, and you should root it in Biblical doctrine.
  • Luke 16 tells a parable about the management of “unrighteous wealth” and how it reflects on spiritual similarities. It is dripping with real-world parallels.
  • Matthew 6:33 features Jesus’ famous call to seek the Kingdom of God first — and He will take care of all of our needs.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Make sure you’re using the Bible as your compass and prayer as your spiritual lifeline, not just at the beginning but throughout your church’s financial journey.

Align Money With Ministry (Not the Other Way Around)

Aligning your ministry with your money is putting the cart before the horse. It may make sense in other settings, such as a business considering capital before investing in developing a new product or opening a store. But there is a subtle difference between that and church finances.

If a business does open a storefront or create a new offering, what is the goal? To increase revenue and, by extension, profits. Not so with a church.

In a non-profit ministry setting, money is always a means to an end, not the end itself. That’s why it’s always smart to start with ministry goals, mission, vision, and similar Kingdom-minded objectives. Align your money with those benchmarks — not the other way around.

Build Trust With Transparency

When it comes to finances, there are certain levels of transparency that are legal requirements. An obvious example is a business accurately declaring its income for tax purposes. In a church setting, financial clarity and accurate reporting take on an even greater role. 

Remember, your goal as a church isn’t to simply meet minimal tax code requirements. You need to wisely steward your resources — not measured by their profit but by their Kingdom-building impact. Transparency helps focus your church’s financial activity on what matters most.

As you seek to maintain transparency in church, consider what kinds of accountability can help. A few examples include:

  • Consistent annual reports that include financials.
  • Creating accountability with how you manage your ministry’s money.
  • Working with qualified individuals and third-party partners to keep everything accurate, compliant, and honest.

Transparency isn’t just a good accounting principle. It enhances impact and creates trust in your church, too.

Get Organized and Stay Structured

While there is a serious spiritual dimension to church finances, you still want to consider the practical side of things, too. That said, make sure you’re considering the best way to manage your church’s resources, not just as they pertain to goals but on a daily basis.

Use fund accounting as a way to keep your money focused on your various church objectives. Create budgets and keep them updated. Prayerfully review the cost and impact of ministries on a regular basis. Look for tax deductions that can benefit your church.

These financial activities and guidelines help create a structure within which your church’s accounting team can operate. It sets standards, creates consistency, and makes it easier for your finances to facilitate your church’s activity.

Don’t Go It Alone

Finally, don’t feel like you have to manage your church’s finances alone. Recruiting outside support can be an effective way to maintain clean, effective finances over time.

A common objection to this concept is the fact that many accounting agencies don’t specialize in church finance. Even if they understand how to work with non-profits, they won’t be able to grasp the need to prioritize God’s guidance and Biblical principles every step of the way.

This is why our team at Chaney & Associates exclusively focuses on being the accounting firm for the Church. Our financial consultants and software tools help with faith-based accounting needs. That way, you can confidently lean on our support, freeing you up to focus on what you do best: running a clean, consistent, well-funded ministry.

Guiding Your Church’s Finances

Church finance requires time and attention. But that doesn’t mean it has to be overwhelming. Use the tips above to put your church’s finances on the straight and narrow.

Start with God, prayer, and the Bible. Align money with ministry objectives. Strive for transparency. Create structure and organization. Find support you can trust. If you can do that, you can cultivate healthy finances that can fuel your ministry for years to come.

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