Next up in this “Things You Don’t Learn in Bible College” series is the art of counting money.

Image via Wikimedia Commons
Image via Wikimedia Commons

There is not too many weeks that go by when I am not counting money. No, this is not because I make a ton of it. This is because we usually have some upcoming event requiring students to pay some sort of fee. So, after that starts coming in, I count it up, fill out the paperwork, input the data in my computer, and turn  it in to our financial administrator.

Before I start, I will say that not all churches are the same. There are some who are fortunate enough to have a financial staff that takes care of all fees for the student minister. While that can happen, my educated guess is that most are not in that situation. Instead, many ministers have to take care of accepting, counting, and organizing their finances on their own.

It is no secret that student ministers have a bad reputation of being unorganized. They are often the ones that have the messiest desks and offices, the ones who do not turn in paperwork on time, and the ones who are always breaking things. This does not have to be the case, though. So, while the others in this “Things You Don’t Learn in Bible College” posts are generally more funny and observational, this one is going to offer a few pointers. Here are a five tips about counting money that I did not learn in Bible college, but I did pick them up along the way.

Envelopes and folders are your friends. When it comes to organization, there are a few things you need to invest in. Take your pick on envelopes or folders. Either one will allow you to organize all money and paperwork easily. Simply place the money inside, and put it all in the same place, perhaps even filed in order.

Do not procrastinate. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn, but it is essential. Most of the time, you are asking students to turn in their money on time, so you need to honor them by processing it in a timely fashion. Maybe the easiest way to do this is to pick a day and time each week where you will do this. For example, maybe every Thursday morning will be set aside to count the money.

Count in public. I know you are above reproach, and you would never steal from the church. So, prove it to people. Grab someone else to help you count, count it in a common area, or at the very least, keep your office door open. One of the last things you want is to be accused of stealing money. Sometimes, counting in public is hard, especially when students are throwing money at you right before or after youth group. At these times, simply collect it, use your envelopes/folders, put it in a safe place, and count it in a public location later.

Double-check your work. When it comes to money, it is sticky, dirty, and gross. No, this is not a public service announcement for washing your hands. What I mean is that money can easily stick together. I am often finding dollar bills stuck behind another. So, do yourself a favor, and double-check your count. In fact, a triple-check is not a bad thing at all. We are human, and we make mistakes.

Let the technology work for you. While they are not the fanciest things, spreadsheets are meant to keep you organized. It doesn’t take long to setup a simple spreadsheet within something like Excel or Google. Then, each time you receive some money from a family, input the person’s name, how much you received, and the date you received it. Not only does this cover yourself if any issues arise, it will also help those who are on your church’s finance team. If you want to go further, there are more software options that allow you to do more. One of my favorites is Managed Missions, which allows you to track money and more for mission trips.

I know that you probably didn’t learn these things in Bible college. At least, I didn’t. And I know you probably don’t make a ton of money, so you’re probably not accustomed to counting money at home. Hopefully, though, these few tips will help you become a better counter of the green-backs.

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This is the fourth post of this blog series. The overall purpose is to be both fun and informative about the “practical” side of youth ministry that people often leave out of a standard Bible college curriculum. I’ve got a small list of things to talk about, but I’m still trying to figure out if this should be merely an fun rant-style or if I should actually “teach” what I am talking about. So… What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

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