Ah, the monthly finance meeting; something you look forward to each time it comes around on your calendar, right? Wrong!
Most leaders in the church know we are in a time of financial fluctuation, both in our local economies and churches. These fluctuations can cause great anxiety, especially when it affects giving practices in the church. Meetings can become a real “downer” if we only focus on the realities of change with an attitude of doom and gloom. How do we dream in a place of doom of gloom?
My suggestion: play games! Yes, you read it correctly: play games!
I think it is interesting that as children, we were often taught how to face life and tough situations through games. Yet, we have forgotten to learn to carry that practice forward! Games test our ability to work with each other, to compete and to find within the will to understand how to strategize. Personally, I think that playing games allows for the Spirit to creep in and help us see our mission from different perspective!
Here are a few finance games that I have used in churches to free up the attitudes and help the team learn to find playful solutions to real world problems.
Let the games begin!
Note: All games require notecards.
Find the Finance Meeting
May I suggest a change of “place”? Not every financial meeting needs to be held in the same room, let alone in the church building. If you have met in the same room for as long as you can remember, it might be a good thing to hold the finance meeting in a different room. If we’ve had heated discussions or worrisome moments in a particular room, we might not be able to think well with those memories looming overhead.
At the first meeting of the year, have each member of the committee suggest a place to meet (the youth room/the sanctuary/at someone’s house for dinner/at the local restaurant with a private room) and write them separately on notecards.
Place the notecards in the basket. Decide how many meetings you are going to have. Then send the basket around and have each person pick a card until all meeting dates have a location. If there are duplicates, you can choose to skip or keep.
Put the dates on the back of the cards and put them in the finance box (make sure to give a copy of the dates to either recording secretary or whoever keeps the calendar). Make sure to send out the schedule to all the finance members.
Special Note: If the card for the budgeting meeting is a public place, make sure to switch it out for a more private setting.
The shift of atmosphere can help people come with a different attitude, and you have figured out your dates in advance!
Magic Wand of Wishes
As people who try to help their congregations’ budget for the year, sometimes it feels like the finance team can be the “bad-guy” when it comes to dreaming for the budget. Here is an activity that helps the team hear ideas from the congregation and consider the future mission of the church and how to fund it.
For two Sundays, have a box called “Magic Wand” (with a picture of a magic wand on it) and blank cards to hand out before worship. Either the Finance Chair or Pastor can explain to the congregation that they can write any dream or wish on the cards. The point of doing this is to get ideas to the finance and leadership teams (not to say that everything suggested will be funded; be very clear about that).
Have the congregation put answers on the cards to the following questions. They must answer BOTH questions:
1. “If you had a magic wand that, when waved, could produce anything the church needed, what would you wish for?”
2. “How does this need help us make disciples for Jesus Christ?”
The congregants can put as many cards into the box as they wish.
At the next Finance meeting (make sure the pastor is present), distribute the cards to team. Have each person read a “wish” and place the card on the table. Each time a card with a “similar” wish is announced, it should be piled with cards similar to it. When a pile has “two” or more cards, look at these wishes more carefully.
Break down the cards/card piles into three categories.
Ask this question –“Is this a staffing wish, building wish or program wish?”
Assign each person a “wishes pile” to share with other areas of leadership in the church (e.g., staffing pile shared with Staff Parish). Ask each area to pray and think about the questions:
I know that “all” the wishes will not be granted, but the discussions will bring new energy and allow leaders and parishioners to become more dependent on each other and God in the process of budgeting and dreaming.