For more than 20 years, I have had a passion for the church in the area of finance. Before coming to Disciples Church Extension Fund (DCEF), I worked at Chase Bank where I was known as “the church lady.” Now that I work for the church, I am known as “the bank lady.” DCEF has allowed me to merge my passions for finance and faith for more than eight years. During this period of time, I also served as Treasurer of my home church, Light of the World, and as an Indiana Region Finance Committee member. In addition, I lecture on faith and finance at Christian Theological Seminary.
I have had a love for finance ever since I was a little girl playing bank teller in my room during a hospital stay. My mother just knew I was destined to do something in the areas of math, accounting and finance. If you’ve attended any of my workshops, you know that I love the following scripture and quote it often:
“Write the vision and make it plain.”(Habakkuk 2:2-3)
A budget is a vision of our financial future; a plan of where we need to go in order to do God’s work. As you begin to plan your budget, maybe for the first time, or to readjust your budget during and after the current pandemic, consider what impacts you should prepare for. Here are a few things to keep in mind moving forward:
Look at your budget differently.
Ask yourself what has changed. Did your giving decrease or was there a slight increase? Were there any significant changes in your expenses?
- During this time, your church needs to align its budget with its mission, As it says in Matthew (6:21) “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
- Assess whether your finances decreased because your church was unable to pivot to other forms of giving and receiving, such as Givelify, Tithe.ly, Square, text to give, and Church in a Box.
- Create an appropriate new budget around your income and expenses, which could look like this:
Remember, we’re in the people business. Our ministry should reflect this.
- If you had savings before the pandemic, it means you had access to emergency funds to survive. Remember, though, you will need to replenish those savings.
- If you did not have access to savings, now would be a good time to adjust your budget to establish an emergency fund. DCEF can help churches start to save by investing in themselves.
Be mindful of areas where your budget will increase
In returning to your building, you may find that the experience of on-site worship has changed. Also, many will be unable to return because of their building’s layout or condition being deemed ‘high risk.’ So, how can your church pivot now that this is not a short-term ordeal?
- After the pandemic, some people will want to continue attending worship services online. For this reason, you may need to upgrade your technology. Many of our churches have experienced lagging, the inability to stream, overload traffic on Facebook and similar tech problems.
- Some churches were completely unprepared to accommodate congregational needs during the pandemic and will now need to purchase technology, such as big-screen TVs, to allow for social distancing throughout their buildings.
- Develop an online presence by investing in a website.
- Hire a professional cleaning service. Your members will want to know all the measures taken to ensure their safety. For more information on this, read last week’s Ask the Advisors blog post.
- If you haven’t reviewed your insurance coverages recently, consult with your insurance agent or provider to be sure you have adequate liability and other coverages. Make any changes necessary for additional insurance coverage as financial protection against COVID-19 outbreaks in your building. To do this, please consult your insurance provider. Click here to review the Insurance Board’s COVID-19 Liability Frequently Asked Questions.
- Make needed repairs. Because of the long absence due to the pandemic, returning worshipers will look at your building space differently. What maintenance was deferred that now needs to be done before members return? DCEF has helped congregations by offering emergency loans for this purpose.
- Can some of your operational costs be reduced, such as bulletin printing, bus/van usage or money spent on coffee service?
Reach out to Disciples Church Extension Fund for support
DCEF works with Disciples congregations on all aspects of their ministry. Contact us for an Initial Consultation concerning your building, faith, finances, ministry discernment, and much more. Or, reach out directly to the DCEF Building and Capital Services Advisor in your state. This Initial Consultation comes at no cost to your congregation.
For a printable handout of these suggestions, click here.
In closing, I leave you with scripture to ponder as you plan and budget differently moving forward. God’s word has said,
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate its cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For, if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying ‘This person began to build but wasn’t able to finish’” (Luke 14:28-30 NIV).
Although these are new and uncertain times we are all leaning into, everything starts with a vision and a plan.
With nearly two decades of experience in business banking, commercial lending, investment management and client service, Belinda King leads the DCEF Advisors team. Besides working directly with congregations in her assigned zones, she relates to Regional Ministers, other Disciples of Christ ministers, denominational Bishops, and a host of church partners. Belinda holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration & Labor Relations from Indiana University and an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan. She also holds the FINRA Series 6 and 63 licenses. Belinda resides in Fishers, IN with her husband, Rod, and their children Brittany, Gregory and Kyra.
For 137 years, DCEF has offered mission-driven building and capital planning services to congregations and organizations of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Together with our investors and partners, we are Disciples helping Disciples.