What Report is First on Your Church Council Agenda?

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When I started out in ministry nearly 35 years ago, I wandered into my first church board meeting with wide eyes and my mouth firmly shut. I did not know much about running a church business meeting. I watched as the chair called for the first report. It was the report from the Finance Committee. The finance chair handed out a detailed budget and went over the status of the church’s finances.

Managing the money given to ministry through the church is important, and we need to be good stewards of every dollar given. But I do question whether it should be the central focus of our church lives and oversight.

I quickly learned that if the budget was balanced, then everyone seemed to be happy. If it was not, then there was considerable consternation and insistence that “we must do something about it.” All the other reports seemed to be secondary to this one, not only in sequence but in importance. To a young neophyte it was very clear that the priority was to balance the budget. One would have thought that finances held the keys to the kingdom given the inordinate attention focused on them at each meeting

Since that time, I have been a part of business sessions in congregations of widely varying denominations. Consistently I still see that the first report often given is from the finance committee, and that report seems to be the one that most persons want to discuss. The economic events of the last two years have only heightened this preoccupation with finances. Managing the money given to ministry through the church is important, and we need to be good stewards of every dollar given. But I do question whether it should be the central focus of our church lives and oversight.

We should be starting our church council meetings with how we are doing with what we exist to do. How have we done since our last meeting in making disciples of Jesus Christ? How many new disciples have begun their faith journey? What evidence have we seen that persons are growing in their relationship with Christ from what we are doing? How are we doing in reaching persons through worship, education, and small groups? How are members giving their lives to others through mission?

If Boeing concentrates on making better airplanes than Airbus, they will sell more planes and make more money. If General Motors concentrates on making better cars than Toyota, they will sell more cars and make more money. One of the best things you can do to raise more money for your church is to give evidence to your donors that you are focused on why you are in business — making disciples — as a first and only priority. if you do that well, chances are that the budget will also do well.

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About Author

Photo of Clif Christopher

J. Clif Christopher is founder and CEO the Horizons Stewardship Company that consults with churches, conferences, synods, and dioceses about building, finance, and church growth. Christopher is a Certified Fund Raising Executive and past recipient of the UMC National Circuit Rider Award for outstanding leadership in developing vital congregations.


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The Wesley Ministry Network brings the best of contemporary Christian scholarship to your congregation’s small groups and adult Bible studies.These video-based group study courses encourage the energetic discussion and personal reflection that are keys to a life of informed discipleship. Courses are designed for use in small groups in a wide range of denominations, but they are also appropriate for individuals seeking self-study opportunities. Learn more now.

Ecumenical studies: Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes SenseJourney through the PsalmsDevotion to Jesus: The Divinity of Christ in Earliest ChristianitySerious Answers to Hard QuestionsReligion and Science: Pathways to TruthIn God’s TimeA Life Worthy of the GospelWomen Speak of God
United Methodist studies: Methodist Identity — Part 1: Our Story; Part 2: Our BeliefsWesleyan Studies Project — Series I: Methodist History; Series II: Methodist Doctrine; Series III: Methodist Evangelism