Remember that class in seminary on Adminstration and how to budget? Right.
Budgets are the proverbial Achilles heel of pastoral ministry. Not many of us clergy-types were trained in preparing budgets. And those who did so were trained in rendering line items and spreadsheets for an organization operating light years away from life at Cripple Creek Community Church. In business we had “levers” behind the curtain. Lower revenue? Roll out a product line. In government? How about increasing fees? Multiple income streams allow for adjustments, turn-a rounds, come-backs.
Church budgets are different.
There is usually only one income stream, possible two. Tithes and Offerings, and, maybe, interest income. There may be capital projects but even those are really just another “pot” where tithes and offerings will be delegated.
Church budgets, also, are highly seasonal. December is great. January, July, and August are not.
Salaries will always be the largest single category of expenses. We are a people-focused enterprise.
Ministry Plans differ from Business Plans because ministry plans incorporate FAITH. Business plans are made on strategic decisions about income and expenses, market-share, competition, and market trends. Ministry Plans are built on the narrative of God’s grace and God’s mission in the world.
Three key things to remember when preparing a church budget.
Remember that church budgets are narratives. What is the story you are telling with the numbers on the page? With the staffing plan? With the mission giving? With the ministries supported?
Church budgets are missional. They reflect the mission of your church, including burdens, values, vision, mission, philosophy of ministry, and specific strategies.
Church budgets are tools in the shepherd’s ruck sack. The thieves tools must be used with care. The church budget is a narrative and his mission but because others are involved with you in living that story and being intentionally missions minded their voices must also be heard and expressed. We will sometimes here in the business world at a budget is an act of compromise. I believe the better word for local church is “consensus.“ There should be a consensus:
“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us . . .”(Acts 15.28 NKJV).
Budgets are not just for accountants. Budgets are, first and foremost, narratives: STORIES OF GOD’S GRACE. And that is your principle work, Pastor: telling the Story so that others become a part of the Story.
So, go ahead and try it: Budget to the glory of God.