5 Ways Your Church Is Losing Money


Managing finances in any organization is difficult. Each department/staff member has different expenditures happening at different times, and it can feel like money is constantly going out the door. Churches are no different.

While some churches and small church plants have a good grasp on their finances, the truth is that most of us struggle to keep control of all expenses. If you are trying to get a better view of where money is going in your church and how to control it, here are 5 ways your church may be losing money!

1) Office Supplies

For most businesses, office supplies doesn’t constitute a big line item on their bank statements. However, for churches? It’s a different story.

Churches are printing constantly. Flyers, brochures, postage, bulletins, etc. I mean, think about how many things you’re printing on a daily basis, as well as what others in the office are doing. While printing may not seem like a costly activity, running that thing 6 days per week all day long adds up… fast.

Obviously, there are many print jobs you can’t stop. Your church needs bulletins for Sundays, you need your sermon notes, etc. But what you can do is get granular in your assessment of what your church is printing regularly, and how you can control those costs.

Keep some of these ideas in mind to give you a clearer understanding of how your church can reduce your office expenses:
– Switching colored ink for black/white
– Counting the bulletins you throw away each week and adjusting how much you print accordingly
– Incorporating digital elements when possible to reduce printing

2) Staffing

Before you make any assumptions – no, we are not suggesting you cut staff members! However, what we are suggesting is that you make sure you are entirely aware of how much money is going towards staffing, what positions are currently filled, and what positions your church might be looking to hire for.

Staffing is often the biggest line item on church expenses. And you probably always feel like more spots could be filled. But as you’re looking for new staff members, try to keep in mind the importance of hiring multi-talented people.

In other words, if your church is currently looking for a videographer, see if you can find someone who knows videography as well as some social media marketing and graphic design skills. These types of hires keep you from over-staffing without neglecting any areas of your church. Get multi-talented employees for your next round of hires to save on unnecessary additional staffing!

3) Hiring Out Services

Not every church has the budget to employee workers for every single need they have. There are things such as web design, social media marketing, church video production, curriculum creation, and sound engineers who may be hired externally as an ad-hoc service provider. That’s great! Hiring people on a contract basis is a great way to have control over your spending. But be careful of how much you spend on hiring out services.

So many churches are victims of contractor price creep or simply getting hit hard with unreasonable pricing and not knowing it. I’ve heard of churches spending $20,000 on a simple website that could’ve been done DIY with a bit of research, or for a tenth of that price hiring out to a more-than-capable contractor.

The trouble with hiring out services is that you’re hiring it out due to your lack of knowledge with that service, what the need is, and how much it should generally cost.

Just take a moment to look around, ask your staff, and keep an ear out to make sure you know what you’re spending on ad-hoc services, how much contractors are charging you, and whether or not it’s reasonable!

4) Building Expenses

Building and facilities expenses are another one of the huge line items on church budgets. It’s not uncommon for them to take upwards of 30% of churches’ budgets.

There are many things related to building costs that are going to remain constant no matter what you do. However, it’s incredible just how much money goes out the door as a result of simple things such as leaving lights on, running the heat or air conditioning when not necessary, using inefficient light bulbs, or leaving equipment like sound boards or church sanctuary computers running all week long.

Each one of those things is small and may seem insignificant, but when you have several staff running around the building all week, turning things on and leaving them on, it adds up to a big line item on your monthly budget.

Replace old bulbs with energy-efficient light bulbs. Power down equipment like sound and music equipment when not being used. Turn off computers in rooms that are not being used during the work week consistently. Invest a little in a programmable thermostat to make sure heat or air conditioning are only running when necessary.

5) Advertising

It’s super important to invest in advertising, but it’s one of the most illusive line items, and it’s easy to spend way too much on advertising that is ineffective or irrelevant to your target audience!

What are you spending money on? Business cards? Flyers? Mailers? Social media advertising? It’s easy for those costs to get out of control if you’ve added them on slowly.

Review what advertising costs you have and figure out what has been most effective. If you are asking first time attenders in the church bulletin how they first heard of your church, use that data to figure out what advertising methods have been most effective! If you aren’t asking for that in the bulletin, consider adding it to collect data and figure out what advertising can be cut, and what advertising should be invested in!

Chris Fleming, Author

About the Author

Chris Fleming is a professional musician from Minneapolis, MN who has played with artists such as TAYA, Big Daddy Weave, and Jason Gray. He is actively involved with the worship music scene and has contributed as a drummer, music director, song writer, and producer for various worship artists and churches locally and nationally. Chris is the Motion Designer at Motion Worship, helping to create motion background collections and countdowns for our subscribers.

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