Tag Archive - budget

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Top Posts of 2018 #6 “4 Ways Churches Misspend Money”

I was a bit surprised that an article about church finances made it into my top 10 for 2018. But it just goes to show that finances are a pressure point for church leaders and when a church’s resources are misaligned it can be lid to growth.

Churches get funny when it comes to money. Generally, churches have a hard time talking about money publicly and few have a clear generosity strategy. When it comes to financial planning and actually spending money in a way that gets them to the vision God’s called them to, the majority of churches I’ve interacted with are all thumbs.

Here are 4 ways I’ve seen churches misspend money and a couple of ideas to hopefully challenge your thinking.

Budget on Hope

I’ve interacted with too many churches that build their budget based on hope. Instead of budgeting based on the previous year’s actual financial performance, they forecast future financial growth on their gut or their version of “faith.” Churches that budget this way often experience little financial margin, budget freezes, hiring freezes, and even layoffs. If this is your church, I’d challenge you to take a wiser approach to money and keep in mind that Proverbs is in the Bible too.

No Cash Reserves

Some churches live hand to mouth financially. There are a lot of reasons this happens. The real danger in living hand to mouth financially and having little cash reserves on hand is that churches unknowingly put themselves in a position that doesn’t allow them to follow Jesus. By not carrying 6-8 weeks of cash reserves on hand not only are you unnecessarily exposing your church to financial risk in lean moments, but you are also not positioning yourself to say yes to opportunity that Jesus may bring your way.

Too Much Cash Reserves

You may have just read that and thought to yourself, “This guy is crazy, I’m never reading this blog again!” How could a church possibly have too much cash in the bank? When churches choose financial security over taking risks and following Jesus…It may be time to take some of that money out of the bank and fuel somethings that could reach some new people for Jesus.

Build the Budget Based on the Past

I’ve found that many churches keep the same basic financial line items year over year with little change throughout the years. Carrying those line items forward consistently and allocating based on the past instead of aligning money to new vision can be dangerous. Great budgeting starts with vision clarity. Once you have clarity about where you’re going building a calendar that reflects your strategy about how you’re going to get there is next. Once that’s complete, budgeting becomes fairly easy because money is just the fuel that funds the strategy that gets you to your vision.


Posted in Leadership

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4 Ways Churches Misspend Money

Churches get funny when it comes to money. Generally, churches have a hard time talking about money publicly and few have a clear generosity strategy. When it comes to financial planning and actually spending money in a way that gets them to the vision God’s called them to, the majority of churches I’ve interacted with are all thumbs.

Here are 4 ways I’ve seen churches misspend money and a couple of ideas to hopefully challenge your thinking.

Budget on Hope

I’ve interacted with too many churches that build their budget based on hope. Instead of budgeting based on the previous year’s actual financial performance, they forecast future financial growth on their gut or their version of “faith.” Churches that budget this way often experience little financial margin, budget freezes, hiring freezes, and even layoffs. If this is your church, I’d challenge you to take a wiser approach to money and keep in mind that Proverbs is in the Bible too.

No Cash Reserves

Some churches live hand to mouth financially. There are a lot of reasons this happens. The real danger in living hand to mouth financially and having little cash reserves on hand is that churches unknowingly put themselves in a position that doesn’t allow them to follow Jesus. By not carrying 6-8 weeks of cash reserves on hand not only are you unnecessarily exposing your church to financial risk in lean moments, but you are also not positioning yourself to say yes to opportunity that Jesus may bring your way.

Too Much Cash Reserves

You may have just read that and thought to yourself, “This guy is crazy, I’m never reading this blog again!” How could a church possibly have too much cash in the bank? When churches choose financial security over taking risks and following Jesus…It may be time to take some of that money out of the bank and fuel somethings that could reach some new people for Jesus.

Build the Budget Based on the Past

I’ve found that many churches keep the same basic financial line items year over year with little change throughout the years. Carrying those line items forward consistently and allocating based on the past instead of aligning money to new vision can be dangerous. Great budgeting starts with vision clarity. Once you have clarity about where you’re going building a calendar that reflects your strategy about how you’re going to get there is next. Once that’s complete, budgeting becomes fairly easy because money is just the fuel that funds the strategy that gets you to your vision.


Posted in Leadership

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How to Fund the Strategic Plan at your Church

Talking with the leadership team at your church about money can be tough. Changing the way you spend it is even harder.

If you have a strategic plan you’re working with your leadership team to implement, it’s important to start a healthy conversation about finances to effectively navigate this touchy subject together.

Every day, you and your team make decisions about how to allocate your funds. You decide which aspects of your ministry are critical to your growth, and which can be cut. Your church’s future–and the fate of your strategic plan–will be greatly influenced by how you direct your resources.

It isn’t unusual for a church to create a strategic plan, then fall short of actually funding it. The leadership team might work together beautifully to create a strong plan and commit to working it, but too often, they find themselves locked into ineffective or foolish budgeting patterns. Eventually, they might find that their vision is only partially funded…or they might set it aside altogether.

That’s why at the Unstuck Group we’ve created Funding Your Strategic Plan, a practical guide full of insights and conversations that will help you and your team assess your church’s budget with a critical eye,  develop an effective, vision-minded budget around your growth engines, and change the way you and your staff direct your available resources.

Funding Your Strategic Plan will help you dissect the types of expenses in your plan, identify missing links and hidden dollars, and learn the difference between wise and foolish budgeting. We’ll teach you the ropes of Zero-Based Budgeting and show you how to utilize your existing assets to generate extra income for your church. You’ll also learn how to talk about money to your congregation, increase their generosity, and get started with a capital campaign.

Ready to dig in? You can get a copy of Funding Your Strategic Plan in the TonyMorganLive.com store,


Posted in Leadership

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Vision is a Destination not a Statement

Vision is a destination, not a statement. Many churches spend an incredible amount of time wordsmithing pithy vision statements instead of providing a clear picture of where they’re going. What a majority of churches view as their vision statement is usually a mission statement.

Mission Answers the Question: Why do we exist?

This is the timeless answer to why your church is on the planet in the first place. We don’t get to pick our mission Jesus did that for us. That’s the whole, “go and make disciples,” part. But we do get to pick language that contextualizes it for our culture.

Vision Answers the Question: Where are we going?

This is the next hill that needs to be taken. Vision typically changes every 3-5 years. Vision changes because once you get there and have taken then hill, there’s always the next hill to take.

Most church staff can’t articulate the next hill their church is taking. They don’t’ know the target on the wall they’re shooting for. One way to begin to bring clarity to the vision at your church is to simply ask the question,

“Where would we be in 3-5 years if our church faithfully lived out the mission Jesus has given us in the context of our community, unique culture of our church, gifting and passions of our Sr. Leadership, and resources that God has given us?”

Doing the serious work to answer this question will help you put a target on the wall to hit. Getting crystal clear on this will have a “trickle down” effect on every decision made in your church over the next 3-5 years. It will allow you to:

  1. Set goals and measure results.
  2. Determine how to allocate resources and budget.
  3. Help you understand how you need to structure your staffing model.
  4. Bring alignment to ministries.

Posted in Leadership

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10 Keys to Making Church Mergers Work

Church mergers are becoming more commonplace, and for a lot of reasons it’s a movement that I believe we’ll see more of in the future. In fact Sun Valley Community Church, the church I have the pleasure of serving at, has experience beginning two new campuses through mergers in the last couple of years.

There are a lot of things that can go right…and wrong in a church merger. But if your church is considering a merger in the future make sure the Sr. Leadership Teams from both churches consider and discuss the following 10 potential deal breakers, and get on the same page before bringing the idea to your individual churches.

1. Doctrine

Is there theological alignment between the two churches? Do they share the same views on potentially contentious issues such as sign gifts, drinking alcohol, divorce, or the role of women in ministry? What do they both believe about the Bible, baptism, salvation, and other theological issues?

2. Culture

This is a step further than just addressing mission, vision, and values. Many churches go into a merger idealistically thinking that they will merge their cultures. This very rarely works out. While it’s possible to build on strengths and adopt best practices from both churches one culture will and should overtake the other if it’s truly going to become one church. Is the culture of each church similar or does one need to “wash over” the other one? How is that going to happen?

3. Staffing

What is your strategy to merge the staff of the two churches? Is there redundancy in staffing between the two churches? If both churches have a Sr. Pastor what will happen to the Sr. Pastor of the joining church? Are the pay and benefit structures comparable between the two churches or are there major adjustments that need to be made? What severance packages need to be built for staff that may not have a job as a result of the merger?

4. Governance

How similar are the two churches form of church governance? Are they staff led or board led? Will Board Members of the joining church serve on the existing Board? What does the congregation vote on and not vote on? Is each church a denominational church or non-denominational church? What committees are in place at each church if any?

5. Budget

Is the budget from each church similar? Does each church design the same percentage of their budget to go towards staffing, missions, ministry, weekend services, facilities, and administration? What about debt? What is the cash position of each church?

6. Ministries

Are the functional ministries of each church similar? Which ministries are considered “untouchable” at each church and why? Which ministries will be replicated at both churches and which ones won’t? Which ministries will you stop doing after the merger and how will you close those ministries down? What strengths and best practices at each individual church need to be adopted and built on after the merger?

7. Preaching

Who will be the primary communicator of this new church after the two churches merge to become one? Will the teaching be the same or different on each campus or location of this new church after the merger? Will you deliver teaching in the weekend services live or via video?

8. Leading the Congregation

Logistics are where most people go to when it comes to the conversation about church mergers. “How are we going to do this?” But one of the most overlooked and perhaps most important issues is leading each congregation through the merger. How will the Sr. Pastor and Sr. Leadership Team of the leading church build trust with the congregation of the joining church? Will they preach over there multiple times, will you conduct town hall or “ask anything” meetings with Sr. Leaders? Will you provide a written set of FAQ’s for each church? How will you communicate with each church so they know what to expect through this process? How will you gain their buy-in?

9. Vote

How will this decision to merge actually be made and ultimately who makes the decision? What do the by-laws of each individual church require? If a vote needs to take place by each congregation, how will you conduct the vote? What is the lowest percentage of a positive vote that needs to happen at each church for the merger to take place?

10. Launch

Another often-overlooked area to consider is the launch phase. Once the merger is voted on, how will you launch and “grand open” this newly merged church? Will one church adopt new signage and branding? Will both churches go through a “re-branding” to a new “brand” that each church will adopt? Will one church shut down to be physically renovated to add technology and interior design features to look like the other church and then reopened? How will you market to and let the community know about this new grand opening?

If you’re interested in learning more about church mergers I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of Better Together by my friends Warren Bird and Jim Tomberlin.


Posted in Leadership
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