Training Pastors in Personal and Church Financial Literacy


By Rev. Robby Paulk
Associate Pastor of Tifton First UMC, Tifton

The Challenge
In June, I will have served as a full-time Pastor in The South Georgia Conference for six years. I am in my final year at Asbury Theological Seminary and look to graduate in August.

Seminary doesn’t cover the business side of the Church, and there is great anxiety when it comes to the unknown. I served a small church of about 90 members before coming to Tifton First UMC. I have learned a lot on the job but learning how the budget of a larger church works has been the biggest challenge.

The Goal
Although I went to the Georgia United Methodist Foundation's Clergy Financial Literacy Academy (CFLA) with a pretty open mind, my goal was to gain a better overall understanding of church finances.

The Impact
I highly recommend the CFLA to all pastors no matter how much experience they have. Charles Buffington (GUMF Trustee and CFLA Trainer) gave the best visual lesson of the tithe I have ever seen. I will never forget it.

The course has driven me to look more at the value of the expense or the potential return on investment rather than just the dollar amount. We have a biblical mandate to invest resources so that they grow the kingdom.

The CFLA also helped to remove many of the unknowns related to the financial management of the Church. I’ve been able to bring some of the lessons back and have conversations with my senior pastor and our staff about how to form our budget. And in my personal life, the CFLA helped me think more about how we manage our budget. It has also given me a strong desire to be debt-free.