One church’s decision to update its financial processes set them up to help people Experience Jesus, Grow Together, and Make a Difference.
Travis Kaiser, Lead Pastor, Florence Baptist Church
An Unexpected Calling to Florence Baptist Church
When Travis Kaiser, the newly installed lead pastor of Florence Baptist Church, asked Bob Miller what it would take to get him on their team, Bob’s response was candid: “I said, ‘I’m not sure that’s going to happen.’”
In 2021, Bob worked as a consultant with a group that helped churches with strategic planning and intentional mission. Through this group he met Travis Kaiser and heard the heart of his church: at over 150 years old, Florence Baptist was established in their community of Florence, Kentucky, but was facing some big transitions. That’s what brought Travis and Bob together.
The church’s previous lead pastor had stepped down before the COVID pandemic caused restrictions and lockdowns, and Travis served as the transitional leadership before taking on the role of lead pastor in April of 2020. In February of 2021, he was consulting with Bob about the church’s future when he popped the question in what Bob calls “the meeting after the meetings.”
“We were settled in Virginia; we had a business,” Bob explains. “But it was one of those things…I just couldn’t let go of it. God wouldn’t let it out of my mind and heart.” And so Bob and his wife made the move to Kentucky, and Bob took on the role of Executive Pastor of Operations.
Florence Baptist Church has a clarifying mission for its people: 1. Experience Jesus, 2. Grow Together, and 3. Make a Difference. The mission frames everything they do as a church, from ministry, to administration, to operations—at least, that was the goal.
In his new role, Bob got familiar with Florence Baptist’s relationship with the Parable team, who at the time was handling limited aspects of the church’s accounting processes, including the day-to-day accounts payable and receivables. Bob’s previous experience in business gave him a unique perspective and the knowledge to ask the right questions.
Bob remembers he and his wife were out of town when he received an email from Travis that sparked the conversation. “If we were buying a business, I would ask for their profit and loss statements, I would ask for their balance sheet. I would ask for their income history. I would ask for their goals and objectives.” He said. “If we would do that for a business, why would I not do that with this church?”
Bob, Travis, and the Parable team felt an exciting shift coming for Florence Baptist Church.
Moving Towards the Mission
Parable strives to help place every dollar on-mission so pastors can tell a better story about their money. When Bob stepped into his new role, he began sifting through how Florence Baptist Church’s established ministry team was utilizing Parable’s expertise.
The church was working with Parable, but they were also handling a lot of the financial operations on their own. Siloed systems made it difficult to keep all the details organized.
Bob felt their church accounting infrastructure was functional but fractured, and that overseeing day-to-day operations felt like immediate management instead of streamlined success.
The church staff was spending energy on operational responsibilities instead of time and opportunities for ministry and relationships. Additionally, the church had lingering mortgage debt to consider when it came to thinking about the future.
To Bob and the team at Florence Baptist, they needed to be clearly focused on their mission to Experience Jesus, Grow Together, and Make a Difference.
The Executive Staff knew it was time for a change. It was time to start partnering in new ways with Parable to see Florence Baptist Church’s money match its mission.
A Partnership Built with the Kingdom in Mind
The shift started with clarification and empowerment. The Florence Baptist team took time to talk with Parable and clarify how Parable’s processes could align their money with their mission. And then, they worked to empower Parable to go after them.
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It meant moving responsibilities from the church staff to Parable’s staff. Bob knew that doing this would allow both teams to lean into their respective areas of expertise: the church in ministry, and Parable in finances.
“In part of changing the processes, we had to say, ‘This is where we’re heading; these are people who are skilled and talented and charged to do it,’” Bob explains. “Parable has an expertise that unless I want to spend hundreds of hours developing, I don’t have. And that’s where I don’t need to put my efforts. So that becomes valuable.”
And then came the change in platforms. The staff continued to streamline these processes alongside Parable, including the bill payment process and payroll process that the team at Parable had recommended and implemented. These processes made operations simpler and more logical for the staff while also strengthening the infrastructure.
These changes freed up time and energy for the staff, and for Bob personally. “It provided me with the opportunity to think higher because I’m not down in the weeds so much,” Bob said. “I get a broad perspective of where we needed to head.”
One of the most productive partnerships between Florence Baptist Church and Parable came in the form of church credit cards. When staff would use credit cards for budget-approved expenses, their administrators would have to chase down receipts and upload copies to their records. When Bob started tracking the time it took, he was astounded. “It was probably taking up 10 to 15 hours a month for staff.” He knew that time and money could be spent on bigger, better, on-mission opportunities.
The solution was one that Bob’s wife encountered in a previous role: the Divvy card. “She showed me how, on her phone, the pre-allocated budgets were set, and also the chart of accounts, and all she had to do was take a picture of the receipt to file it.” Bob explained. “That was the third major thing that we pushed for to implement with Parable.”
The Divvy card became a part of Parable’s Financial Operating System thanks to Bob’s suggestion and has freed up hours every month for Florence Baptist Church and other church teams who’ve adopted the process.
“Parable asked me what I wanted to do. They took an idea, evaluated, and then jointly we implemented it.” Bob recalled. “It ended up being seamless and a great experience.”
The Freedom to Dream Big
Since leveraging Florence Baptist Church’s relationship with Parable and freeing up resources for ministry, Bob’s seen God work in incredible ways. It’s allowed the church to think more missionally and creatively with the resources they’ve been given—including allowing Florence Baptist to pay down their mortgage debt.
That meant less money going towards interest payments and more money helping people Experience Jesus, Grow Together, and Make a Difference.
And that third goal—making a difference—is one that Bob’s proud to say the church has been tapping into more and more these days.
“In October of 2021, we picked four humanitarian-aid type ministries to support, and we told our people, after a conversation with our Executive Team, that everything they gave from Sunday morning to the following Saturday night, we would give half of it away to the four organizations.”
When the giving started coming in, Bob kept track of each day on his office whiteboard. When Sunday morning came, he crunched the numbers. “Right before the service, our people had given almost exactly double of what they normally give,” Bob recalled.
“That showed us we could challenge our people financially to go to God and trust Him for something way beyond them.”
It inspired the Executive Team, and in January of 2022, they went public with the goal of being debt-free: a dream they could never have imagined two years before.
A Future On-Mission
But the dream won’t stop there. Florence Baptist Church sees a future full of community-oriented resources and relational opportunities.
“We want to give people an opportunity to come here and not just walk into the doors of our church, but to be able to bring their families and walk around our property,” explained Bob.
They hope to use their 70-plus acres of land to host events for the community and provide a giant play area where moms can bring their kids and fellowship with one another. Then, they hope those opportunities will lead to Growing Together and eventually inspiring one another to Make A Difference, bringing the mission full circle.
And Bob also sees a future where Florence Baptist Church continues giving back to the community, including the disenfranchised homeless community and those in need of clothing, homeware, and supplies.
“The more we can do these types of things,” Bob explained, “the more we, again, help people Experience Jesus, Grow Together, and Make a Difference.”
A Step in Stewardship
“God has mandated that we are stewards and managers of everything he owns. It’s his church; it’s not our church. They are his resources, not our resources. So we need to manage the most effective way we can. So part of our management strategy is looking at the expense it costs to engage Parable as opposed to the expense it costs to hire multiple people—I’m going to go with Parable.
“Kingdom principles, even though honored, are sometimes damaged very quickly because we don’t have a proper concept or the ability to figure out how to navigate those tough situations independent from the walls of the church. And even though we’re functioning within the walls of the church, Parable serves as that outside resource that literally in my mind is iron sharpening iron. I don’t have to worry internally about where the sparks are flying. We can both just grind away and figure out the best way to handle it.”Bob Miller, Executive Pastor of Operations at Florence Baptist Church
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