´╗┐When your church has to make spending cuts (and all churches will at some point), choose wisely. By wisely, I mean don’t make cuts that offer low ROC (return on cut). Let me explain.

The primary reason go into an IHOP is for the Cinn-a-stack pancakes. If I could do without those, I would rarely eat at IHOP. Here’s why: there are two things they do that ding my breakfast experience there.

money-drain

So, how’s your church budget doing this year? It’s March now, which means it’s also a good time to look at church finances. You can probably already tell what kind of start the church is off too. Granted, January and February are not strong months for offerings, historically. However, you can take this into account as you look at what kind of January and February the church has had–and make some adjustments. If you’re off to a better year than anticipated, praise God. If you aren’t, praise God anyway, and make a small tweak or two now. It will save you much greater pain down the road.

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.