Does your team complain about filling out purchase requests? Do they wonder why you told them they couldn't rent that huge inflatable or buy that new software?

If so, it's probably time to pull back the curtain and show them the budget. If you want ministry leaders who will take ownership of their departments and be excellent stewards of their resources, then give them responsibility to manage their budget.

If you're afraid this will cause strife or competition between your department leaders, you may need to question why those individuals are in leadership roles. Someone who is in charge of a ministry department should be mature enough to handle this type of responsibility.

Department leaders need to know what it takes to make their part of the ministry happen each week and that includes the financial aspect. Here are four practical steps to get started:

1. Review the current year's budget: Make sure each department leader knows what is included in her budget for that year. Explain the thought process behind the numbers. Why did you budget $5,000 for d├ęcor in July? Maybe it's because you always host a women's event in July, and that money is set aside for that effort.

2. Review the current year's actuals: Review a financial report that shows budget vs. actuals by category, by month for the year for their department. Discuss any significant variances, and ask if they can tell you why there's a discrepancy.

3. Conduct a monthly financial meeting: Provide each leader with his department's budget vs. actuals financial report each month. Give them a week to review it, and do research to explain variances. Then meet with them to discuss the variances and to decide what needs to be changed going into the next month.

4. Make financial management part of their job evaluation: "What gets measured gets done, and what is rewarded gets repeated" is a phrase we often hear in leadership. If you evaluate your department leaders' involvement and effectiveness in managing their budgets as part of their performance evaluation, they'll realize how important this is to their leadership. They'll react accordingly.

Providing your ministry leaders with the opportunity to manage their budgets demonstrates your trust in their character and leadership abilities. It also cultivates a greater sense of responsibility and ownership of the financial aspect of ministry.

This is part of stewarding the resources God has entrusted to your staff. Take these simple steps to involve them in the process of developing and managing their ministry budgets.