Just like everyone else’s schedule, during the summer months church life changes. Members’ church attendance is often hit or miss due to vacations. Because of the sporadic attendance, some churches decide to reduce ministry offerings during the summer. And for some church leaders, this means there is often a period between camps and ramping up for the fall that is a little slower.
How can you take advantage of this period? The summer months provide an opportunity for church leaders to evaluate and consider how to improve their church’s financial health. If you are in a position that oversees or works with your church’s finances, here are nine ways to help your church’s financial health this summer:
1. Conduct a mid-year review and make necessary adjustments.
The summer months provide a natural point in the year to analyze your church’s financial position. Is giving meeting expectations? Are expenses in line with the budget? Were there any unforeseen expenses? How is your emergency fund? Do you anticipate any upcoming major expenses? Does the current financial trajectory cause a reason for concern or a reason for celebration? If there are any adjustments required, now is the perfect time to make those changes, prior to the fall.
2. Read a book on church finances or generosity.
Maybe church finances and generosity are areas that intimidate you. Maybe you desire to brush up on the latest financial strategies. Maybe you need to figure out a way to better build generous disciples in your church. There are several great books written on organizational finances, non-profit finances, church finances, and biblical generosity. Read a book that will improve your knowledge and benefit your church.
3. Become an expert on your church’s giving patterns and financial metrics.
Develop an in-depth understanding of your church’s giving patterns and metrics. To start, study your church’s three-year giving trends, per capita giving trends, giving unit trends, giver age group breakdown, and seasonal patterns. Review your personnel expense percentage and debt position. Pour over the numbers. An in-depth understanding of your numbers will help you make better and faster decisions in the future. Someone needs to be the numbers guru in your church. Why not you?
4. Set meetings with leaders at other churches and ask about their financial strategies.
The summer months are a great time to connect with other church leaders. Like you, the summer months offer them slower periods. Set meetings with other church leaders to discuss church finances. Send the church leaders your questions in advance so they can better prepare their responses. Listening to their financial challenges and successes can help you gain a better understanding of the future financial strategies you could employ. These meetings can also help determine whether the challenges faced by your church are common to other churches in your area.
5. Talk to a CPA that is familiar with church finances.
CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant. A CPA that’s familiar with church finances can provide invaluable information about current financial laws, updated financial reporting requirements, and church financial trends. During the summer months consider talking to a CPA. To increase the productivity of the conversation, prepare and send your questions in advance.
6. Evaluate all service contracts, meet with service providers, and search for better deals.
Most churches have several service providers. The types of service providers can range from janitorial services to online giving platforms. Now is a great time to evaluate whether the cost associated with each service is reasonable. Review all service contracts and meet with the service providers. Ask whether better rates are available. If the cost seems unreasonable, search for a better deal. Consider getting quotes from three companies for a particular service before making any decision.
7. Have lunch with key givers and lay leaders.
Now is a great time to connect with key individuals in the church. Consider scheduling several lunches with different leaders throughout the summer. This is not an attempt to show favoritism but a way to hear from those who are heavily invested in the church. Their ongoing financial participation and volunteer service are important for the church, and now is a good time to ensure their involvement will continue as you move into the fall months.
8. Start planning year-end giving communication.
The fall months are incredibly busy for churches. It is common for church leaders to suddenly find themselves in November, realizing they have yet to lay out their year-end giving strategy. December is regularly the highest-giving month of the year. Churches that do not have a communication strategy in place are missing a great opportunity to encourage members’ generosity. Don’t wait until November to start thinking about year-end giving. Take advantage of the summer months and plan your communication strategy early.
9. Pray for your church’s financial health.
Church leaders regularly pray that their members will be people marked by generosity. They want their members to be known in their community as people who live with open hands. And that is certainly something worth praying for. But pray also for your church’s financial health. Ask God to reveal any concerning financial issues that need addressing. Pray that you will find ways to reduce expenses, increase ministry dollars, and become better stewards of the resources God provides. Pray that the church’s financial health will be a positive witness to the watching community.
Bonus Tip: Make plans to attend Give Conference
The landscape of ministry continues to shift as we maneuver changing trends and technology. Our annual Give Conference tackles how we can overcome today’s obstacles to build generous disciples. You’ll hear from pastors and thought leaders on topics like building a generous culture, leveraging your digital presence to foster giving and engagement, and much more. It will be a tremendous resource in building a more financially healthy church. While the conference happens until the fall, you can always watch clips from past conferences on our YouTube channel.
The summer months are certainly a great time to slow down and experience some relaxing moments. But it’s also a great time to analyze and help your church’s financial health. This summer, find ways to grow in your knowledge of the church’s financial position and search for best practices that can improve the church’s financial health. If any adjustments are needed, consider making those adjustments prior to the fall. Reach out to other leaders and key members. Start planning for year-end giving. Of course, pray for your church’s financial health. Make this summer a season where you positively impact your church’s financial stewardship.