Show Me the Money
Remember that money is a high-anxiety area for many people, including most pastors. Family issues around money will be played out in the church. You may not be in the inner circle of church money matters, but see what you notice at stewardship and budget time.
The above is one of the tips from my eBook 111 Tips to Survive Music Ministry. Let me unpack it a bit…
Most church musicians would rather not deal with money, I suspect. They would rather focus on their area of expertise, and spend all their time on music and worship. But music ministry takes money, and many church musicians also have budgetary responsibilities. You can’t completely avoid it.
My recommendation: get curious about how your church does money. You can learn a lot by watching how it handles stewardship and budget matters. Money frequently becomes a lightning rod in church life. It’s an automatic focus for anxiety.
Ask questions like these:
- Are people open about money matters?
- Are there secrets?
- How did your predecessor handle money and budget matters?
- How does the pastor lead (or not) in this area?
- If there are issues with the music budget, do people discuss it with you openly, or do you find out about budget cuts when you see the budget draft?
Remember, how people learned to handle money in their family of origin is how they will engage with it at church. This is true of you, the pastor, other decision-makers and members. Many pastors grew up in families where money was not openly discussed, and they can find it hard to lead in this area. Don’t be surprised if your pastor is passive about money in general or your budget and/or salary in particular.
You have control over certain music minsitry money matters such as how the money within your budget is allocated and spent. You can’t control others: the final decision about salary and budget will not be yours. Let go of what you can’t control. It will save you a lot of stress.
Consider these six ideas:
- If people criticize you for how you spend your budget, don’t get defensive. It’s probably not personal. Even if it is, defensiveness won’t help.
- Don’t keep your head in the sand when budgeting decisions are being made. Pay attention to your relationships with the pastor and other decision-makers.
- Ask for what you want in a calm, clear, non-defensive way. Again, let go of whether you get what you want.
- Be clear about where you give and why. Do you give to this church? Where else do you give?
- Be careful about subsidizing the music budget out of your own pocket. Do it rarely if at all. It is overfunctioning. The church needs to support its own ministries.
- Remember it’s not just about the music budget. Keep the big picture of the wider ministry in mind.
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