Talking about financial budgets isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite subject. When it comes to your church, however, it’s a discussion to engage in with more than just top leaders of your congregation.

Depending on how your church is structured, department or ministry leaders might have some involvement in the annual budgeting process. You may also have a finance committee consisting of church elders who are involved as well.

Also, inviting church staff to participate in developing the budget can prove beneficial long term. By allowing employees to help create the budget, they’re able to better understand the decision-making process and the challenges that come with it. Another bonus: It can also show them how to be better financial stewards.

As you begin planning for your next annual budget, here are some ways to get employees engaged in the budgeting process.

Step No.1: Ask each department to provide their ideal budget for the upcoming year

Have staff members consider the following factors:

  • What events do we want to host this year, and what are the anticipated expenses for each?
  • Do we need to hire additional staff or add more contractors?
  • What conferences or training do we need to be more effective?
  • Do we need to upgrade or replace computers, software, or other technology?
  • How does this budget align with the church’s overarching vision and goals for the year?
  • How does this budget align with our department’s efforts in supporting the church’s vision?

Step No. 2: Request explanations

For budget line items over a set dollar amount, ask for an explanation on why that item is needed and how they arrived at that dollar amount.

Step No. 3: Consolidate and evaluate

Once you’ve consolidated these into a single budget for the church, decide whether that budget is realistic.

For example, does past church income from donations indicate you’d have enough money to cover these expenses? If not, ask each department to prioritize and identify areas to cut.

Step No. 4: Implement accountability

Once you have a final budget that’s approved by church leadership, hold each department accountable to that monthly budget.

  • When an employee submits a Purchase Request, he/she should reference whether this expense is within the budget or not (and if not, why).
  • Provide a monthly budget vs. actual report to each department leader and request explanations for any significant variances.
  • Ensure the person(s) responsible for planning events have the appropriate budget information and monitor spending for each event.

This plan to engaging employees can guide your staff toward a better understanding of the church budget and their role in financial stewardship. It may at first seem a bit out of their comfort zone, but the rewards of financial accountability are worth the effort.