For many years, I gave a lecture to a “Basics of Ministry” class at Dallas Theological Seminary. I don’t do much teaching at the Masters level, as I generally work with pastors in the Doctor of Ministry classes.

Yet, this was a delightful opportunity. It was delightful because the audience was so green, so unaware of the issues. They came alive when they learned the upside to ministry finances and became unglued when paying for Social Security was explained to them.

The 36 page PDF of the PowerPoint gives the highlights of the talk, but obviously, there is much that was left on the cutting room floor.  Some of the elements included interactive elements, such as:

Are budgets and reports …

  • Pretty boring
  • Sexy and exciting
  • A tedious necessity
  • A tool for giving perspective

The seminary students always had some interesting responses to that budget question. Some didn’t think that they would have to deal with money and budgets in ministry. Other topics included:

Why diversify power and responsibility?

  • Separate committee functions
    • Budget
    • Compensation
    • Finance
    • Audit
  • Guard your funds
    • Check writer has no authority to sign
    • Several people count funds
  • Demand accurate reporting
    • Monthly reports
    • Annual audit

Some of the basics of accounting are covered here, such as what are current assets, fixed assets, liabilities and payroll liabilities. Social Security and the Ministerial Housing Allowance are also touched upon.

Several balance sheets of churches are presented, helping students know about the financial status of a prospective church.

View the presentation’s PDF: Church Finances