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COVID-19 and Church Finance Best Practices

By AGFinancial | Church Leadership

In a time of crisis, churches have a significant opportunity to be the beacon of hope in their communities. As many in our Fellowship have recently shared, leaders must rethink ways of effectively ministering to both their church body and their communities. It may take a renewed vision, extraordinary and supernatural creativity, and a church staff prepared to do things differently. It may also require a different approach to finances.

Churches across the country have already been impacted by COVID-19 (coronavirus). While some communities have been hit harder than others, many churches are beginning to feel the financial constraints related to this crisis. Losing the ability to gather at the church and hold traditional services has made it difficult to collect tithes and offerings – especially for those who did not already have online giving tools in place. In addition, many people have decreased or paused their giving due to job losses because of sheltert-at-home orders and fear of the future.

All of these “new normal” factors play a role in church finances, but leaders can utilize the best practices below to help pivot and reposition the church to stay strong and accomplish great things.

1. Reduce spending.

In this season of crisis and economic volatility, it is recommended to reduce unnecessary spending with the realization that money not spent is money reserved for future needs or emergencies. Take a fresh look at the budget from a zero-based perspective. This simply means you start the budget at zero (no expenses) and then add in your expenses by priority. Add in the obvious expenses like rent, mortgage, and insurance premiums, but you will soon get to a point where you have to decide if the expenses are necessary in this season of global crisis. Many budgeted expenses may fall in to the “nice-to-have, but not need-to-have” category. To better manage even the smallest of expenses in these times of change, churches may benefit from moving to a weekly budget review, closely monitoring cash flow and expenses.

How the church responds and treats others will outlive this pandemic.

2. Budget for new ministry opportunities.

Decreasing expenses may free up dollars to be used towards timely ministry opportunities you may have never had before. Some churches are rethinking their method of services and are quickly investing in live stream technology while others are using creative approaches to public gatherings, like a modern drive-in concept that uses low-power FM transmitters. Beyond the weekend service, many churches are finding new, meaningful ways to minister to people through providing food to those elderly or home-bound, emergency relief for the homeless, and partnering with ministries such as Convoy of Hope to care for the needs of their communities. For more ideas in ministering to your community, click here.

3. Communicate the financial need.

The Church will still be the Church, and as always, funds are required to minister to people and share the Gospel. This is the time to share what the church is doing (or will be doing) to practically serve the community, and to invite people to partner in the mission. Communicate this clearly through the church website, email and newsletters, the church’s social media channels, during the service, and any other way you typically communicate to church members.  Think creatively on how to help members give when the traditional methods are unavailable. Have staff, elders or leaders call members for prayer, but also share the need for continued faithful giving. To minister and provide much needed spiritual support, consider having staff available for drive-through prayer with the opportunity to give during the week.

It’s also important to utilize technology and other creative ways to make it easy for people to give. Consider options like text-to-give, app-based giving, postage-paid envelopes, drive-through giving and online giving through the church’s website. If you are not yet set up for online giving, click here to learn more. For church members averse to technology, a good old-fashioned check in the mail still works.

Those churches with no emergency fund and severely decreased income may need to look into opportunities through the CARES Act. For information regarding SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans now coming available to churches, click here. These are low-interest loans designed to provide relief during this crisis.

4. Ensure proper insurance coverages.

As churches take on new ministry opportunities, it is important to check in with the insurance agent and make sure the church has proper coverages. Some insurance companies have exclusions in the policies, and churches need to confirm any and all new activities are covered. If the agent confirms that new ministry activities are covered, it is recommended to get it in writing.

5. Remember that His truth is still truth.

It’s comforting to realize that the Lord is not surprised, alarmed, or worried about COVID-19. As children of the King, we have the opportunity to position ourselves in that same way, and enjoy the benefits that come with trusting Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). A Kingdom perspective is important for leaders as they consider new ministry opportunities, cast vision, and rally the troops to reach communities in new ways. That perspective is also important as it provides clarity and boldness to lead and manage well. How the church responds and treats others will outlive this pandemic. Your testimony and witness will be eternal and in the long run, lives will be forever changed when you make Kingdom choices.

On a personal note, please know that we at AGFinancial stand with you in this time of change, and we are praying for you daily. We are encouraged by the many testimonies that have already occurred during this pandemic, and we are confident God will use this time to reach many people through the local church.

For AGFinancial updates related to COVID-19, click here.