This is part 2 of a four part series focusing on the four "B"s that at times become idols in the western church. If not idols, these are often used as elements to determine success in church (often comparatively.) These elements have created a false scorecard for many. It's time to redeem them.
BUDGETS – Finances and budgeting are essential for established churches and church plants. When speaking of missional theology, the concept of finances often is foolishly ignored. Funding is needed in ministry and God always provides all that is needed.
Unfortunately, many churches develop their budgets based solely on the previous year’s spending. In some cases, the budgets are built around concepts of events that the church hopes to do in the next twelve months.
Over time, personnel expenses tend to take up the majority of funding within a church. This is not necessarily a bad thing, in that the staff provided by God to the church is a valuable resource and should be able to serve without constant fear of financial support.
When there is financial stress within the church, it adversely affects the health of the pastor and his family. This, in turn negatively affects the health of the church. Whether full-time or intentionally employed, the pastor will stress over the workings of the church, the ministry funding and programming. If married, the pastor’s wife will carry the very same load of stress in addition to the personal frustrations and stressors that come with managing a home (i.e. bills to pay, children, school, etc.) If not handled wisely, budgeting and finances can do damage to the church and to the marriage of the pastor.
The concept of missional theology and action cannot be limited to programming and community involvement. The budget of the church must also reflect this. To determine the values of the church, just as with individuals, see where the most time and money is spent.
A MISSIONAL CHURCH BUDGET
How can a church budget missionally? If the budget is built to just redo all the previous year’s events without consideration of how those events and programs reflect the missional makeup of the church, the church will never fully be missional. It will be held back by the budget and retreaded evenets.
While giving to missions is essential in any church budget, a strong look at other ministries and entities within the community must be made. Over the past eight years, our church has intentionally increased giving to denominational missions (CP and Associational Missions.) However, increased giving to these areas alone does not necessarily equate to missional giving.
While there are varied ways churches can give missionally, God has revealed some strategic areas for our congregation over the past couple of years. In our case, the foci have been three specific areas – orphan care, church planting and global missions.
Like most churches, First Baptist has often been one that systematically has worked in the red for the majority of each year with hopes for increased giving in December to pull us back to the black. It has been a crazy strategy and, honestly, one of poor stewardship.
When we began to recognize our three areas of missional living as revealed by God, through prayer we decided to give any funds over and above expenses twice a year to ministries and groups serving in these areas. As God has blessed, we have been able to give away thousands of dollars.
Is that missional? We believe so. The funding of such ministries and churches allows for a larger Kingdom picture to become clear. Our mission is not really our mission. It’s God’s mission and we are just getting in on it, by invitation of course.
Therefore, the budget of the church needs to reflect His mission. Otherwise, as is the case in many places, the budget will simply reflect siloed ministries that feel as is they're the most important at the time.
As we have shifted to this model (it's a continual shift - we're not fully here, yet) we have been able to create an atmosphere of generosity among the people. As the church models good stewardship and missional focus, it becomes natural for those who are the church to do so as well.