What does budget planning look like in your church? If you are like many, you probably look at the budget for the previous year, estimate how much it will cost to do the same things next year, and then affix a number to the budget. I’d like to suggest a different approach.
Pastors, program and ministry staff, and key church laypeople need to meet outside the normal budget making process and pray together about what God is calling that congregation to be, or become, or begin in the coming fiscal or calendar year. Each church needs a “dream team.” Not a group of super active members, but those who are being led by the Holy Spirit to dream about the future God is revealing. Dreams are realized when steps are taken, and steps are taken when assets and resources are intentionally set into place for those dreams to come true. Sharing the dream, sharing the vision given by God, and sharing that such ideas need the resources to become real, is a great way to “rally support” for some new directions in your church’s budget.
For many years in my churches, I would often ask that “seed money” for future ministries be included in the budget each year. People would say, “What are you going to use that money for?” And it is often difficult for people to hear, “We are not quite sure, but God has been planting ideas and we believe God is leading us forward in new directions and new ministries.”
If you have a three-to-five-year plan that your congregation is working on, praying about, and preparing to undertake, then building up resources (budget line items) that support that vision is essential. Promotion, communication, special presentations in worship, and other ways of getting the story out, are all essential to the dream coming true. John Maxwell likes to say, “What gets talked about, gets done.” The more you share the dream, talk about the dream, preach about the dream, and show how the dream is coming into view, or coming into place, or beginning to make a difference, then people will rally behind the idea, and support it all the more.
It is the leaders who carry the mantle of the church’s visionaries, and they have a responsibility to the future, to put those dreams into budget numbers so you have the resources to do the things that God is leading you to do.
Rev Dr Bruce Jones
Pastor, Concord UMC, Seaford, DE