Joseph Miller reports that national surveys of evangelical churches indicate that 80 percent of the giving in those churches comes from 20 percent of the constituency. The balance of 20 percent comes from another 30 percent of the people, leaving 50 percent of the constituency contributing nothing.
Miller also cites statistics the Southern Baptists released that 80 percent of the giving in their churches came from people who were fifty-five or older.
Miller writes that if the average church constituency gave the tithe of their income to the Lord in the local church, the church budget would be four times as big.
Church consultant, Joseph Miller addresses these issues in two helpful volumes entitled Building The Church: A Comprehensive Manuel for Church Administration.
Here are the chapter titles just to give you an overview of the subjects addressed:
In volume one he covers Church Planting, Church Evangelism, Church Education, Public Services, Church Music, Church Growth, Missions, Stewardship, Church Administration, and Church Finances.
In volume two, Miller discusses Church Documentation, Church Leadership, Pastoral Leadership, Ministry Training, Staff Development, Property Development, Church Facilities, Interior Decorating, Personal Development and Personal Finance.
Here is just one chapter to show how each of these 20 chapters is developed:
In chapter ten Joseph Miller elaborates on Church Finances by instructing on Structuring the Church Finances, Funding the Local Church, Church Compliance Review, Taxes and the Church, Funding the Building Project, The Stewardship of Borrowing Money, Let Debt Serve You, Keep Your Balance, and Liabilities of Fundraising.
Under Structuring the Church’s Finances, Miller provides “ten components that compose a sound financial structure for the church ministry.”
Miller advises leaders to set an example of faithful giving. Church leaders should provide each new member with numbered envelopes that are large enough to hold an unfolded bill or check.
2. An Enlarging Faith
Miller does not encourage “Faith Promise” giving for Missions only but that our people would ask God for an “enlarged faith by trusting God for increased giving for next year.” Miller believes that Faith Promise or any designated giving eventually takes away from the General Fund. When people do not have what they promised by faith they start subtracting from their tithes and thus the General Fund suffers.
3. The Single Treasury
“Rather than keep your accounting in your church through several treasurers, accounts, and checkbooks, everything should be on one central account. This does not mean that the ladies’ missionary society could not have access to funds. Allocate funds to them as part of the budget. If the group receives offerings, add it to the church treasury.” This helps bookkeeping and auditing.
4. A Budget System
For a new church, Miller recommends, “Fifty percent of the church’s budget should be for support of the pastor and church’s program. Fifteen percent should be for missions and related support. Thirty-five percent should be for property development.”
Another resource for preparing your church budget is Mark Dever’s The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel. In chapter 20, he discusses how he processes his budget beginning with the church administrator in May. Then Dever discusses with the associate pastor and elder in charge of local outreach and global missions. Next the elders give input on the budget which is followed by the deacons. Finally the congregation has an opportunity to make suggestions at a members’ meeting. At the end of this elaborate process the congregation votes to approve or disapprove the proposed budget.
5. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
“Generally accepted accounting principles, budgeting, and the single treasury are essential to doing business ‘decently and in order’ (1 Cor 14:40). Furthermore, they attract people of the business community.”
6. Good Administrative Procedures
Keep good records in the church’s office, not someone’s dresser drawer. Present quarterly reports to your congregation. “This attracts professional people into your church.”
7. Supporting Pastor and Program Before Property
You can read Paul’s defense of this component in 1 Corinthians 9.
8. Priority To Quality
“Don’t expect to use poor quality stationary, cheap envelops, and hand scribbling to reach people who have the greatest capability of supporting your church financially.”
9. Debt That Serves You
Miller gives the following basic guidelines:
1) Debt load should not exceed two to three times the church’s annual income.
2) Always maintain a 50 percent net worth. (The total real value of the church’s assets should always be twice as much as the amount owned.)
3) Debt must be serviced by only one-third of your church’s income. Abuses in this area have brought a lot of the regulations upon us that schools and churches face today.
Until these guidelines come together, don’t borrow the money.
“Prayer is not listed last to indicate that it is, therefore, the least important. I have called these components and not steps…. Prayer has a prominent place in the financial matters of the church. Expect God to provide…. Nothing replaces hard work. Nothing replaces prayer.”