Essential Financial Priorities for All Ministries
by Jac La Tour, ECCU Communications Manager
(Originally published as a post within ECCU’s former e-publication, The Buzz.)
Have you noticed that many churches’ mission statements include a phrase that reads something like “…to develop fully devoted followers of Christ”? I once had a conversation with the senior pastor and worship director from one of these churches. “Tell me,” I asked them, “what does it mean to be a fully devoted follower of Christ?” The senior pastor answered immediately, and then the worship director replied quickly, “That’s not what I’d have said.” And wouldn’t you know, a quick Internet search just turned up five completely different lists of characteristics of a fully devoted follower of Christ, on the first page of suggested websites alone.
Is there a similar lack of clarity when it comes to priorities that should guide the management of a ministry’s financial resources? Probably. If you’re a financial decision maker, chances are you think in terms of your ministry’s priorities when managing ministry money. That’s good. These priorities should always inform financial decisions. But working with churches and other ministries over the years, we’ve identified four financial priorities that are especially helpful for all ministries:
- Ensure financial integrity.
- Maintain adequate liquidity.
- Maximize cash flow.
- Leverage assets.
Once you understand these financial priorities, it becomes clear that they’re not really up for debate. Financial integrity is essential to protect your ministry’s reputation and donors’ confidence. Liquidity is essential to ensure that cash is available to fund ministry plans and respond to unexpected needs or opportunities. Maximizing cash flow is essential to make sure these funds are available when you need them. And leveraging assets is essential to be sure you’re doing the best job of stewarding everything your ministry has been entrusted with—people, property, and cash—to further the kingdom.
So what’s a financial decision maker to do? For starters, you might want to read the white paper Cash Reserves: How Much Is Enough? It will show your ministry team why liquidity and cash flow are so important. You might also want to check out the article Ensuring Your Ministry’s Financial Integrity. And you can always talk with an ECCU ministry development officer about these financial priorities. (There is not a charge for these consultations.) Then start a discussion with your leadership team about them.
Just one caution: If you want to talk about what it means to be a fully devoted follower of Christ, schedule a separate meeting.
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