‘Is it spiritual to budget?’ This question is often followed by the comment: ‘Surely we should be doing everything in faith,’ implying that budgeting shows a lack of faith and shouldn’t belong in the local church.
Budgeting and faith go hand-in-hand in the life of any church. They are not mutually exclusive but work together to honour God and help us plan effectively for his kingdom. It is important that every Christian organisation has a clear God-given vision, supported by a budget, with a faith that this money will be provided by the members and regularly prayed for. Whilst the focus of this article is about finance, please remember that financial giving should be seen as part of our wider giving to ministry which includes our time, our resources and more.
My Christian journey began at the age of 17, hearing someone speak on John 3:16. If God loved me so much that he sent his Son to die for me and planned a home in eternity for me then I felt that was a God I should trust in, and I have for over 50 years. At the same time, I started working, learning how to manage finances in business and life and began trying to understand the Bible and how to apply it to my own life. I remember listening to a sermon on giving and being told that Jesus spoke regularly about money. I learned that money and the management of money plays an important role in our lives, the life of the church and global mission. Having been an elder for nearly 40 years and been responsible for overseeing and presenting finance to church members, I would like to share with you some of my experiences which I hope will help you in your situation.
A God-given vision
A clear God-given vision is more important than questions about money or budgets. A vision for the church will prioritise spending and help the leadership produce a supporting budget. It will also help the members understand the financial needs and the importance of giving and praying.
Clear teaching on money
The Bible has much to say about money and this is one of the many important areas to preach on in a local church. Some churches stay away from this topic which can result in a lack of knowledge and a reduction in giving.
Teach your children the importance of giving. I remember visiting friends who gave their children pocket money each month and encouraged them to split it three ways: spending money, savings and helping others. Periodically they would sit down together as a family and decide what to do with the ‘helping others’ fund. This practice will stay with their children for the rest of their lives.
Encourage individuals and the church to budget for the Lord’s work. All churches should have a wider perspective on where they give their money. A good practice would be setting a budget for church ministry, regional ministry and global ministry. This should also encourage the church to pray for ministries other than their own which leads to more giving.
If Christians do not budget to give to ministry, the church and other ministries will receive what is left in their pockets, if anything. Hebrews 13:16 encourages us ‘not to forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.’ Revisit your budgets from time to time and remember that the costs of running a church will change over time.
Present the needs of the church
Presenting your God-given vision and the supporting finance budget is key to the future of the local church. Regular updates will encourage individuals to give and pray.
Finally, John 3:16 reminds us that God gave us so much through his Son, so we should be obedient to God in giving of our time and our resources.
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