Posted in Executive Pastor

This Is Not My Favorite Thing To Do

©Mat Hayward / Dollar Photo Club

We all have tasks we don’t like in our life. Or, as I teach my kids to say about foods they don’t like — “it’s not my favorite.”

I did a ministry task this week I didn’t like. What about you? What church or ministry task don’t you like?

My task: determining closure of offices, and cancellation of ministry opportunities and Sunday services due to inclement weather.

Three days of ice and sub-20 degree temps is a big deal in middle Tennessee. Did I mention a closure meant closing our doors to our wonderful ministry partner, Room in the Inn, a housing option for the homeless in our city? Shutting down the offices is one thing, but shutting down ministry is another. Also, did I mention it was the cancellation of Sunday services at our highest attended campus?

There was a lot at stake: homeless individuals needing shelter, eager volunteers, lost work, safety, liability, financial losses… I grew up in southern Arizona – I’m not equipped to make these decisions.

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Creating A Church Personnel Budget

Whether the personnel portion of your church’s budget is $50,000, $500,000 or 5,000,000, it should have at its core, some common elements.

If you’re involved in putting together your church’s personnel budget, here are key components and tactical steps you need to include (you can see it graphically here).

Step 1

Know and show your personnel budget number for the current year (ex. $200,000).

Step 2

Make any changes you’ve made to the budgeted amount throughout the current year (ex. you made a new hire and paid them $5,000 more than you had budgeted for the position. And you increased custodial hours from PT to FT, adding $14,000). You’ve then added $19,000 mid-year dollars to your personnel budget.

Step 3

This gives you your Revised budget number (in this example, $219,000).

Step 4

Estimate your insurance costs for the new year. An insurance broker can often anticipate increased costs based on what they’re seeing in the market. They can provide you the percentage increase for your plan before actual increases are determined (an estimate is usually available in late summer). For the sake of example, let’s show your needed reserve for insurance to be $6,000. (Obviously, if you’re church does not offer heath insurance, you can skip this step.)

Step 5

Determine your anticipated merit raise figure. While I don’t affirm the idea of a pre-determined % increase for everyone, and instead, prefer a merit increase that ties into a performance management system, you can still have a percentage as the average increase.

So let’s assume that on average, you want to be able to provide a 3% merit increase. You’ll do the math to add 3% to the base salary portion of your personnel budget (remember to add in the impact of merit on retirement benefits if you provide for them).

Step 6

Show any anticipated next year personnel hires. Or if you’re reducing your staff, you’d show that reduced number.

Step 7

Add these steps together. This will give you your next year’s personnel budget figure, you’d begin with your “revised current year budget,” add “health insurance,” add merit raise dollar figure, and add any new hires (or reduce any eliminations) to get to your total proposed next year’s personnel budget.

Here’s an example of how to show these steps in a personnel budget document.

The personnel part of a church budget is typically a large percentage of a church’s budget. So you’ll need to justify it by having a well thought out procedure and explanation.

Having this prepared budget will help you as you take the budget to your church’s decision makers. For other suggestions for presenting an overall compelling church budget, see this previous post.

Happy budgeting.

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Dealing With Admin vs Ministry Tension


Most ministers struggle with the day-to-day tension between administrative duties and pastoral duties. It sometimes feels like a competition: business versus ministry.

Can the two co-exist?

Some church staff roles are primarily operational, and some are primarily pastoral. But usually, whether it’s implied in your title or not, most roles are a combination of the two.

This is especially true for churches with smaller staffs. But whether your church has one staff-member or hundreds, most ministers face this tension everyday.

Meeting organizer or ministry in a home?

Controller of finances or stewardship teacher?

Staff manager or staff mentor?

Funding work or funeral work?

Preaching preparation or policy preparation?

The tension’s impact is highly visible on the resource of time. And in church ministry, it’s usually the “tyranny of the urgent” that wins out.

There’s also tension placed on a minister’s calling. Like many who lead staff, many of my role responsibilities are executive in nature (strategic direction, implementation, managing budgets, and staff). But God didn’t call me to be just an executive – He called me to participate in shepherding His church.

Do I use my spiritual gifts and executive experience to accomplish work for the church? Yes. But for me to be fulfilled in my Gospel Ministry calling, I must be able to connect performance reviews, rainy day funds, and information technology to people pursuing Christ. I need to perceive a clear connection between my executive work and the church working as God designed it.

If all my work is in the admin sector, then my work can seem meaningless, and unappreciated. If I’m all pastoral, well, usually the train begins to leave the track and it impedes ministry for me and even the church.

Does this resonate with you? If, like me, you need some help balancing these two elements of your role, here are a few techniques:

  1. Know and be comfortable with your role’s ebb and flow. There are seasons when one role may be dominant – and that’s okay.
  2. Be involved in hands-on ministry. Without it you lose touch, and your ministry becomes all head and no heart.
  3. Do an exercise with your team where you try to connect administrative duties you’re all engaged in to life-change outcomes. Can you connect the dots?
  4. Do some pastoral care, regularly – even if it’s not in your job description.
  5. Embrace those around you who are better at balancing these roles. See what they can teach you about working efficiently in each role, without losing balance.
  6. Be intentional in looking for and listening to stories of life-change.
  7. Even if it’s not you on the front-line, celebrate when work you’ve contributed to has an ultimate impact for Jesus.
  8. Plan for both ministry and administration in each day. A consistent disregard for administration for the sake of sermon preparation can have negative impacts. And a disregard for administrative tasks can really get in the way of sustainable ministry work.

All ministry matters, even it’s budget planning. You are a resource to the church and you need to allocate your time effectively so the church can be all that God called it to be.

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