Budget preparation guides and other resources for churches now are offered free of charge from the staff of the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries, a ministry largely supported by the cooperative program, local churches and individuals.
“ABCH Learn is designed to strengthen children, families, marriages and churches,” ABCH president Rod Marshall said. “It is free content and mini-courses developed by our team of professionals to help moms, dads and church leaders across the state. We hope it will be a blessing.”
The Children’s Home is dependent on churches for volunteers and resources, “and we thought this was an easy way for us to give back and invest in the local church,” Todd McMichen, chief development officer for ABCH, told The Alabama Baptist.
“We have a lot of similar skillsets to church staffs here on our staff, so we thought we would turn our processes and experiences loose to create some free tools that could benefit the church,” McMichen explained.
ABCH is the largest faith-based provider of foster care services in Alabama, ministering to children and teenagers as well as married couples and single adults. They also manage budgets, create strategies and recognize that small- and medium-sized churches may not have a staff large enough to specialize in all those areas.
Available now at alabamachild.org/learn-churchbudgeting is “Mini-Course 1: Aligning Vision and Budget.”
Budget help and tools
“What we created was one introductory video to help pastors kind of understand what the tools were,” McMichen said. “Then there are three lessons, and each lesson consists of one video that lasts about a minute. Then there’s a blog on a topic with some assignments.”
One of the free budgeting tools is a document by Chip Colee, ABCH’s chief administrative officer, listing five questions a pastor should consider before presenting a budget. One is: “Are you presenting a vision for ministry and a funding plan or just a budget?” The document then explains how to consider a ministry-based financial plan.
Another tool is an Excel church budgeting template developed by Grace Wood, director of accounting and finance. Churches can “enter prior year numbers to track income and expense trends, project income and expenses for the coming year, and formulate an overall plan to fund the ministry vision.”
Pastors can engage the resources in preparation for a meeting with a committee, or involve a group in the learning process.
One lesson covers how to launch a sermon series aimed at vision-casting and engaging people in praying, volunteering and giving.
“At the Children’s Home we have a lot of expertise that’s almost well-hidden because most of what we do is helping children from hard places,” McMichen said. “But that is transferrable in ministry, so our staff of counselors and social workers are oftentimes speaking in churches and small group settings, doing training.
“We’re kind of on a path to take that knowledge and experience public, and this church budgeting session is just one of them,” he continued. “We have other content pieces on foster parenting. We’re going to do some helpful tips around Christmastime for families that our counselors from Pathways Professional Counseling will be doing.”
‘Support church ministry’
McMichen noted that what’s online “is really just the first of a variety of topics to comes.”
Congregations that want to support ABCH in their work can lead people to pray for the ministry, McMichen said.
“What we do is a very, very hard work in rescuing kids from hard places. We don’t underestimate prayer.”
Another step of support churches can take is to collect items or volunteer on a campus.
“Every day we give away diapers and wipes and clothes because we get kids coming into our care who have nothing. So churches and volunteers donate physical items to us all the time as well as show up and volunteer on one of our campuses to provide meals or help keep up the facility or even invest in our children,” McMichen said.
More information on church involvement with ABCH is available at alabamachild.org/nextsteps.
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