Sanford Levings

"Hi, I’m Sanford Levings, President of MinistryCFO and author of this blog. The purpose of our blog is to share with you information and insights that we gather from working with and listening to our clients and partners, located throughout the country." read more

Expense Reporting: Set Up Your Expenses Correctly!

Set Up Your Expenses Correctly!

At MinistryCFO, we prefer to record expenses in your church in such a way that the expense categories effectively serve as management reports for your senior staff, stewardship team and board of directors.

As a result, our expense categories essentially represent departments. The idea is that each staff leader is ultimately responsible for all of the expenditures in his or her designated department.

Here are the expense categories that we usually recommend:

Expense Categories:

  • Salaries & Benefits
  • Administration
  • Pastor Office
  • Worship Service Programming
  • Facilities
  • Family Ministry
  • Community Groups (or Sunday School)
  • Events
  • Missions & Outreach
  • Retail

You’ll notice that the first expense category is Salaries & Benefits. We prefer this classification for three reasons: 1) payroll is the primary expense item for all churches, 2) combining all payroll keeps individual salaries private, 3) at MinistryCFO, we know the ranges for salaries as a percent of revenue.

The second classification, Administration, tends to be a catch all for those expenses that are hard to classify elsewhere. Examples include: Office Supplies, Utilities and Professional Fees.

Pastor Office involves those expenses that the Senior Pastor tends to have some control and discretion over and include Advertising, Staff Retreats and Staff Conferences.

Worship Service Programming involves all the expenses necessary to conduct the weekly worship service. These expenses include not only Contract Labor for the Band, Music Copyright, Sound System, Lighting but also all the Volunteer Cost associated with greeting and hosting attendees. Remember, the worship service experience begins in the parking lot!

Facilities cost are all those cost associated with maintaining the facility and include Maintenance & Repair, Janitorial Services and Signage.

Family Ministry usually has the most sub-accounts and that’s because Family

Ministry encompasses Nursery, Pre-K, Middle School, High School, College and Adult Ministries.

Community Groups and / or Sunday School include all the cost associated with maintaining community groups and / or Sunday school and include Curriculum, Food & Beverages and Training.

Events include such items as Christmas Celebration, Easter Celebration, Men’s Conferences and Women’s Conferences.

Missions & Outreach include both domestic and international mission trips and causes.

Retail includes both the revenue and expense components relating to the Church Bookstore and / or Café operations.

Lastly, we have not discussed one major expense line item and that is Mortgage Interest Expense, which should always be recorded below Net Operating Income in it’s own section titled “Other Expense”.


Your church needs a CFO on part-time basis. Let the MinistryCFO team help you best classify and manage your expenses.