8 Tips for Leading a Church Budget Committee

I had a reader who was recently given the responsibility of developing the church budget.

She asked for help with creating a meeting agenda, preparing to lead the church budget meeting and tips for keeping the group moving forward in the budgeting process.

Leading a church budget team meeting can be a fun and productive experience.  The secret is being prepared.

8 Tips For Leading a Church Budget Committee

1.  Gather Financial Data

Gather all historical budget data and create handouts for the church budget team to review. Make sure the information is in an easy to understand format and that complex accounting terms are translated for clear understanding.

Most people are uncomfortable asking terminology questions, particularly when they have been asked to serve on such a prominent church committee. So help them by making the information easy to understand.

2.  Set a Date For the Meeting

Schedule the budget meeting by providing several different time options for the committee members.

The goal is for  them to feel like they have choices. Working with them on their time availability will make them feel valued and will begin gaining credibility and trust from you as a leader.

Most people want to follow a leader who cares about them as individuals and being considerate enough to schedule around their availability is the first step in doing that.

3.  Create Church Budget Meeting Agenda

An agenda is merely a tool to help the team stay on task for what needs to be discussed and accomplished.

Create an agenda based on the expectations that you have for the team.

When setting an agenda try to anticipate how much time each agenda item will take and allow for that amount of time for each discussion point.

There is no easy way to do this, and it gets easier with practice, but it is important to have a guide to help you through the meeting so you don’t get 90 minutes into the session and realize that you are on the first point of the agenda.

For an editable example meeting agenda click here.

Example Church Budget Meeting Agenda

7:00 pm                       Welcome/Introductions
7:15 pm                        Opening Prayer
7:20 pm                        Agenda Review
7:25 pm                        Ground Rules/Assign note taker/timekeeper
7:30 pm                        Review Historical Data
8:00 pm                       Revenue Projections
8:15 pm                        Budget Requirements
8:30 pm                       Budget Priority Discussion
8:50 pm                       Next Steps
9:00 pm                       Meeting Adjourned

4.  Facilitate the Meeting

Tips For Leading a Church Budget CommitteeAs you facilitate the meeting encourage everyone to participate in the discussion and try to make sure there is consensus on any decisions.

This sometimes involves letting everyone voice their opinions and then working with the group to come to agreement on the best answer – with all ideas considered.  You don’t want anyone walking out of the meeting saying “they didn’t listen to me….”

Tips for meeting facilitation:

  • Make sure the meeting starts and stops on time.  This will give you credibility as a leader for being respectful of the time of others.
  • Before the meeting starts, set meeting ground rules:
    • turn off cell phones
    • no side conversations
    • be respectful of the ideas of others
    • confidentiality
    • start and stop on time
    • everyone participates
  •  These are common ground rules and a great way to start the conversation but be sure to ask the group to add any other “rules” for behavior.
  • Assign someone to take meeting notes and someone to watch the clock. This will provide a record of the discussion (what decisions were made, who is doing what, etc.) and keep the group to the scheduled time.

5.  Team Development

Teams work best when members have relationships with each other. The secret to developing a high performing team is allowing the group to bond.

It sometimes takes a few meetings for members to get to know each other, feel comfortable as a group and to get the synergy going.  Allow a bit of ‘social’ time before and after the meeting to help develop relationships and build the team.

6.  Next Steps

To keep the committee moving forward, at the end of each meeting talk about next steps and assign or ask for volunteers to complete projects/tasks before the next meeting.  Have the note taker document these assignments in the meeting notes.

A few days before the next meeting send out a meeting reminder and include those things that committee members were responsible to do. Let them know that they will be asked to report on the progress of their assignment.  Create the next meeting agenda based on team assignments and start the next meeting by reviewing notes and then go down the list of assignment reporting.

7.  Pitfalls

The major pitfalls for most committees is either team conflict or getting stuck.  To avoid these, help the team develop as a group and hold people accountable to their assigned responsibilities each week (or however often they meet).

Similar to the first day of  school, the teacher sets the expectations to get everyone on the same page. Open the meeting with your expectations of the group and make it clear about those things you will not be able to tolerate (for the sake of the team). If people aren’t committed to fulfilling their job assignments they may need to be replaced.

8.  Anticipate Questions

As you finalize budget proposals make sure the team objectively thinks through any and all questions that might be asked.  You want to think of everything before submitting the budget for approval.

The last thing you want is to present a budget to the board and get asked a question that you do not have a good answer for.  Spend time trying to shoot holes in the budget so that you can anticipate questions before they are asked.

Managing the financial resources of a church is a stewardship responsibility. And while leading a team can be fun and rewarding, being prepared and having a plan is crucial to the team’s success. Spend the time preparing for the budget meetings and you will find that those meetings are more productive and have better results.

photo by:  ChrisPorter

Article originally published September 2012, updated August 2015.

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