I’ve been asked more than once over the years … “How much does your church keep in reserve?” My answer? “It depends.”
I haven’t come across a “standard” as it relates to cash reserves, at least that works for everyone. As church leaders, we know having a reserve is a good thing, but we’re not in the money-saving business. We’re in the money spending business (for the good of the Kingdom, of course). We have to spend money to accomplish the mission.
So, keeping a bunch of money in the bank “just in case” is a waste of resources. I always think of the number of people we could reach with that money.
With this said, as good stewards, we do need to have a reserve. The reserve is there to protect us from future unplanned or unforeseen shortages of income. I believe the answer to the question of reserve is different for every church. Churches in areas where inclement weather closure is more likely, for example, should have a few weeks in reserve to make sure they can continue to operate with low attendance or even cancelation of services. Throw in increased expenses with inclement weather (like snow removal, site and facility damage, etc.) and you would add a few more weeks of reserve. Living here in the northeast, I often say a snow event is a “double whammy.” Income decreases, due to low or no attendance, and expenses increase. Not a good thing.
I wish I could conclude this post with a “magic number,” but I can’t. The answer is … enough to protect against likely circumstances leading to lower income but not so much that funds are sitting there for years, never being put to use for the kingdom.
If your church isn’t growing (yes I mean numerically) and you have a large reserve that you have never needed to use, you might want to recalculate.
Just saying …