Tell Your Money Where to Go by Dale Marples

Tell Your Money Where to Go
Dale Marples

Dale Marples and his wife, Betty Jo, are ordained through Rhema Bible Training Center and had been pastors for 24 years before retiring in 2010. They pioneered 3 churches during that time. Dale has a degree from the University of Nebraska in Business Administration and Finance. After serving as an officer and pilot in the U.S. Air Force he became a National Bank Examiner and Executive Officer in banking for 25 years. Dale also was Director of Treasury and Budget for the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association for several years.

Today Dale has a consulting company, CFO Omaha, Inc., which provides financial management solutions for companies and churches and prepares business plans and financial proposals. He has also developed a financial seminar for pastors, staff members and church boards entitled "Church Finances 911" which is designed to enable church leaders to be good stewards of the finances that have been entrusted to them and to establish a financially sound and stable church.

Contact Information: • (402) 502-2255

Tell Your Money Where to GoSeveral years ago there was a commercial on television which said, “It’s 10:00 O’clock. Do you know where your children are?” If we move that into the realm of your church finances, we could restate it this way:  “It’s the end of the year. Do you know where your money went?”

Money seems to have a mind of its own and will go where it wants to go unless you have a plan, tell it where to go. As we quickly approach the end of the year, it is time to be planning for next year. Actually, I suggest this process begin not later than November 1st so you have time to gather all your information, make your plan and revise it several times so it accurately lays out a plan for the coming year. If you wait until the last few weeks you end up doing a hurried budget and it is not as accurate as it should have been. That results in a flawed financial road map for the coming year.

When I was an Air Force pilot, every flight we took required several hours of planning before we ever got into the airplane. We were given the mission of that flight and then it was up to us to lay out the plan to accomplish the mission. I was flying a KC-135 which is an aerial refueler, so, our mission planning was not only for just our airplane, but that bomber we were going to refuel was dependent upon us being at the refueling point at the appointed time and that we had sufficient jet fuel to transfer to him so he could continue his mission.

Now, you may ask, what does my church budget have to do with you’re planning to fly an airplane. I’m glad you asked, because it has everything to do with your planning your church budget. Maybe mine was a little more critical because an error could mean not being able to meet the mission requirement, or in an extreme, could result in a plane crash or even a death.

But there is a strong parallel. In my case, the local Air Force commander would give me the mission requirements but in your case, it is God who is giving you the mission requirements. And you are accountable to God for accomplishing those requirements. You have been called by God to preach the Gospel, heal the brokenhearted, preach deliverance to the captive and set the people free. God has put you in your specific location to do the work there that He wants accomplished. So, you must use the resources available and go forth and do the work that is set before you. I hope you see how critical your mission planning is to accomplish all the mission requirements of your calling. Because, failing to do so could result in people dying spiritually and spend eternity in hell. So, let’s look at what the planning process entails.

To begin with, you, as the pastor, need to spend time with God listening to Him so you have His vision for the coming year. There will probably be changes to what you did last year. There may be new outreach projects or events you want to hold at the church building. Maybe you will stop some projects you did last year. As you listen, Holy Spirit will reveal God’s plan to you. And that is the plan you need to budget for in the coming year. What I want you to see is that the coming year is not just a carbon copy of last year. It is a unique year, God has a plan so you are responsible to hear that plan and then plan specifically for it.

To start with, gather all your department heads and other leadership together and pray for the plan that God has for next year. This is not your plan or your leaderships’ plan. It is God’s, so you need to hear it from Him. All of you have to be hearing the same plan and the only way to do that is to pray together about it.

Have each of your department heads prepare a list of their needs. That would be based on the number of people involved in their department and the activities they plan for next year. For example, if it is the elementary children’s department, the director would consider the cost of materials, crafts, treats, equipment, videos, vacation bible school, special events and any other creative ideas they have. Every department should go through this process.

When they present their budget to you, it should be in sufficient detail so you can understand what they are requesting, so you can analyze whether or not they have covered everything that you want accomplished. You should discuss their budget with them so that you both understand the details of their budget. Your discussion may result in adding items or making cuts. Just because they had prepared a budget doesn’t mean that it is automatically approved. You as the pastor are responsible to insure that the mission is accomplished and resources are used efficiently.

When you have all of the department budgets, all of the events & projects that God has shown you incorporated into the expense side of your budget, then you start looking at the income. Your income is not whatever it takes to balance the expenses although there are churches that do it that way. That is planning for failure. The income must be based on history you have from your current year plus what you believe you can do in the coming year.

During the current year you should have been recording weekly the number of adults and children in attendance, each with their own total. You should have also been recording your weekly offering and special incomes in separate totals so you know how much is coming in each week for church operation and how much is coming in for special funds or events. If you have done this, then you know the average of how much money comes in weekly from each adult. This is the number you base your budget upon. If you have 200 adults for example, and they average $60. per week, then you could project an annual income of $624,000 from those 200 adults. If you believe you can add 50 more adults in the coming year, and then based on your history of last year, you could add $156,000 to your income. Notice, I am talking adults and not families or children. Families have either 1 or 2 adults, and children do not contribute to the general fund. Their offerings always end up in the children’s fund or some special account.

After you have an income amount that is based on solid information, then, and only then, do you compare it to your expenses. If they match, that’s great. If you have an excess of income, that is fantastic, so you can consider additional projects or start a building fund. But if your expenses exceed your income, then you have to go back through all the department budgets and make adjustments in order to reduce the expenses to equal the income.

This is a detailed job, but it is necessary if you are going to run your church on a solid financial base. Remember, if the financial base of your church is weak, the entire structure is weak. You have to operate your church like a business so you can protect the ministry activity.

If you have properly planned your budget for the coming year, then when next year is winding down, you can say you know where your money went because you controlled it and directed it to serve the Kingdom of God. Well done, good and faithful servant.

If you have any questions about this information I am Dale Marples and you can go to my website:, or you can contact me at: