Is It Okay if Your Church Lives Paycheck to Paycheck?

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“My church has a ‘paycheck to paycheck’ mentality.”

This is how a church treasurer recently described to me the way his church makes its budget each year.

True, this isn’t breaking news. Many churches live from one collection plate to the next. But what surprised me was that this man was comparing his church’s practice to his own personal financial management. “Paycheck to paycheck” was not his preferred modus operandi, but apparently it is for his church.

Let’s be clear: paycheck to paycheck is better than going into debt. Truth is, sometimes it’s just reality. Personally, I’ve operated financially from one pay period to the next from time to time. Maybe you have, too.

But, like my church treasurer friend, most would agree it’s not ideal. In fact, every financial literacy guru promotes strategies to move past the two-week cycle of draining available cash. You know the drill: “Keep your income stream steady (add one if you can). Save more. Spend less.”

So, why do churches get to ignore this? How do they get a pass on living from paycheck to paycheck? I know the comeback here: “Churches aren’t banks. What good does a pile of money do if it’s not being used for ministry?”

But where’s the logic to this? If it’s short-sighted for me to live paycheck to paycheck, isn’t that true for my church, too?

If so, then one of the most promising strategies to leapfrog over living paycheck to paycheck is to add an income stream. This is easier said than done, but some churches have been doing it for decades. How? By setting up a foundation to receive gifts in a will from members and supporters.  

A foundation for your church is a tried and true strategy for promoting and receiving gifts from a will.

The problem is this can be complicated and takes time, energy and expertise to correctly promote and maintain. Not every church can pull a foundation off, at least by itself. Which is exactly where Barnabas Foundation comes in!

Check out this information sheet about a Legacy Foundation through Barnabas Foundation. It’s all the benefits of a private foundation⁠—receiving gifts from the wills of members and supporters⁠—without any of the headaches and hassles of having to manage it.

The bottom line is that gifts from wills are a game-changer because they make it possible to dream dreams about ministry decades from now. By any standard, that’s worth moving your church’s finances way beyond paycheck to paycheck!

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The question caught my attention and I both laughed and was captivated by it. Why? Well, in Jesus discourse on prayer he taught that we pray for daily bread, not weekly, or monthly, or yearly.  Of course this was a personal prayer, not an institutional one.

I once worshipped in small church that knew just how much they neded to make it from one Sunday to the next. In retrospect this was probably the equivalent of "daily bread." Anyway, they took the offering, the deacons counted it, and if it was not sufficient for the next 7 days, they would take the offering again. If my memory serves me, they passed it 3 times that Sunday.

Then there is the story of Channaka (Hanukkah). Oil for one day, it lasted 8. The challenge we have in walking in the footsteps of Jesus is balancing faith with common sense and prudent thinking and acting.