When putting together a church budget, several mistakes are commonly made that can haunt a church throughout the year and beyond. Here are five keys to a healthy church budget. There are more steps than these, but these are the big five:

1.Don’t drastically overestimate projected offerings. This is a classic for those who love to “step out on faith” or have something they really want to do but can’t afford. The problem here will be a large deficit requiring draconian cuts, pleas from the pulpit, and questioning of the leader’s abilities to project. I know it’s tempting, but don’t do it. Keep your projections optimistic but sane. Here are a couple of principles with some exceptions: If your church is not growing, your offerings will not. Also, if your church is growing, offerings per capita will grow slower in the newcomers than in those attending. To avoid overestimating offerings significantly, it also helps to ask this question: If I’m projecting increased giving, where is that going to come from and what steps are we taking to make that projection a reality. The scariest part is many ministers/elders “step out on faith” without thinking through their part in making that step a reality. As a result, their step becomes a year-long problem that erodes church trust when repeated.