I started attending my current church, Calvary-St. George’s, the second Sunday in Advent of 2013. It’s not the first time I had been in an Episcopal Church, but it was the first time I stayed. My life had mostly been in Presbyterian churches up to that point. I’m a bit of a traditionalist, so being in an environment with a structured, traditional liturgy really appealed to me… choir processional at the beginning of service, check… gospel read in the middle of the congregation, check… communion every week, cool… but the reality is that that this liturgy appealed to my traditionalist chops, and that was is all it was for me.
That is, until one day when one Sunday in early 2014 when it all changed.
A couple of weeks before, the church made an announcement that there would be a five-week class called Why We Do What We Do. Matthew Paul Buccheri led this class to walk through the liturgy and talk about the meaning behind the liturgical practices Episcopalians engage in, from the processional until the final blessing. We learned why we do the peace (to make things right with our neighbor, sometimes symbolically and sometimes literally) and why it is placed right before the offering (make peace, then give your offering per Matthew 5:24). We found out why the priest walks to the middle of the congregation to read the Gospel (to be heard better in pre-amplification days, now symbolic of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us). It was a wonderful class, changed my perspective on the liturgy, and really changed my Sunday worship.
At this point you might be asking what this has to do with ministry and finance. After all, it’s a church and ministry management blog!
Well, just like understanding why we do what we do in church has benefited my spiritual life, knowing why we do what we do helps us become better administrators. For example, offering needs to be collected a certain way to both prevent fraud and to meet IRS compliance. We all would agree that the checkbook needs to be reconciled regularly, but who reconciles it and how often they reconcile it makes a difference. Likewise, closing the books monthly and checking for accuracy is a practice that ensures that financial reports are accurate, that they have been reviewed by management, and that they are being used as part of making informed decisions.
Regardless of your ministry’s size or how sophisticated your financial function, knowing the why behind a policy, practice, or process keeps its importance in mind, keeps the focus on what the outcome needs to be, and makes the administrative side of ministry an intentional instead of haphazard. If you are like me and in administration, then this is a great way to get your minister on board with following procedures. And if you’re a ministry leader, then be thinking about the reasons behind why your financial team might want you doing things a certain way. Either way, it will make help your ministry steward God’s resources a bit better!