September 2022 Resource

Smart Church Finances
Smart Church Finances: A Pastor’s Guide to Budgets, Spreadsheets, and Other Things You Didn’t Learn in Seminary


George M. Hillman, Jr, and John Reece


Lexham Press, Bellingham, WA

Book Review By:

Melvin Amerson

Premise of the book:
This book focuses on how important it is for clergy to be exposed to business and organizational practices, so they have the essentials to effectively lead congregations.

What this book does:
Smart Church Finances
is an excellent resource for clergy who may have limited exposure to areas of business practices such as accounting, planning, and management. The authors have written the guide in a manner appropriate for non-business trained clergy to grasp and understand. Further, they offer suggestions on engaging business professionals in the local church on administrative and organizational matters who can share their professional acumen. Each chapter concludes with Field Notes and Planning Prompters which include questions and next steps.


Chapter 1: Stewardship and Joy
Chapter 2: Mission and Vision Casting
Chapter 3: Strategic Planning
Chapter 4: Budgeting and Programming
Chapter 5: Stewarding Resources and Facilities
Chapter 6: Funding Ministry
Chapter 7: Measuring Success
Chapter 8: Reporting and Forecasting
Chapter 9: Reporting
Chapter 10: Engaging Business Leaders

What are some important insights:
Throughout this guide Hillman and Reece provide helpful tools and ideas for leading and managing congregations. The Case Framework for Business Performance consists of four stages that provide essentials, guiding, and missions or a project: communicate vision, align strategy, steward resources, and evaluate performance. (p. 18) Also, the Prioritization Filter questions of “Is it worth doing?”, based on impact, importance, and influence. (p. 126) Insights are offered in this excellent resource guide that will benefit both small and large congregations.

Possibilities as a resource for churches:
This is a must read for clergy and a great resource for laity who want to lead a financially and organizationally sound congregation.

Melvin Amerson

The Rev. Melvin Amerson is a member of the Texas Annual Conference and serves as a Resource Specialist and Area Representative at TMF. His experience and passion lie in encouraging and developing generous, faithful leaders and congregations.

Amerson is the author of Celebrating the Offering, Fruit for Celebrating the Offering, and Stewardship in African American Churches: A New Paradigm, as well as several articles covering topics from generosity, leadership, and visioning. He served as a board member of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center until it was dissolved in 2021 and is currently serving on the Texas Annual Conference Church Leadership Team. He is a nationally recognized generosity consultant known for his engaging presentations. Beyond strengthening congregational leaders, one of his favorite ways to use his skills is to empower Wesley Foundation staff to effectively fund their college ministries.

Melvin obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi, an M.Div degree concentrating in Christian education from Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia, an Executive Leadership certificate from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and a certificate in Professional Fundraising from Boston University. Recently, he completed a fundraising certificate with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.