Principles for including your congregation in the budgeting process
By Stan Toler
Many pastors have won a Purple Heart at the Battle of Budget Hill. The process of compiling, promoting, passing, and tracking a local church budget is often as tiresome as it is troubling. But there’s a positive side. The budget is not only the church or organization’s guide for tracking income and outgo; it is also an opportunity to teach members about stewardship. How? Utilize their gifts/skills.
Utilize member skills in compiling the budget
The very process of compiling a church budget puts the skills of your parishioners into practice. Form a budget committee from those who have finance backgrounds—and finance skills. Then add members to the committee who may not have as much experience. They will not only learn about financing, they will be more focused on the financial needs of the church.
Utilize member skills in promoting the budget
Secret budgets will never gain public approval. Form a committee or subcommittee to advertise the budget. It may include members of the finance/budget committee. But additional members may be appointed—especially those who have skills in graphic arts or communication. During your sermon, you may want to look around for those who are doodling on tithing envelopes instead of listening. They may be your creative members!
Once again, their participation not only facilitates the process, it is an opportunity for the those members to a) learn about stewardship, b) use their God-given gifts, and c) create enthusiasm for passing the budget.
The creation of PowerPoint presentations, pie charts, financial reports, etc. broadens the web of understanding, and acceptance of the church’s financial goals. Plus, the creative process puts spiritual gifts into practice.
Utilize members in passing the budget
By involving a wider number of skilled members in compiling the church budget, you will cause a wider number of congregants to take ownership. Components of the budget can be presented by members of the committee. Where a pastor may have more difficulty in adding a new vehicle to his or salary package, a committee member may utilize communication skills in putting a positive spin on the need—especially if that member has been embarrassed to ride in the pastor’s old vehicle!
Tracking the budget
Churches often have their own “Geek Squad.” Members of your congregation may have specialized computer skills that can be utilized in keeping the congregation on track in meeting its financial goals. Some of those same members may only speak “computer,” and would be fearful of teaching a small group. But they may shine behind the monitor screen in compiling tracking reports.
Think of it, someone in your congregation is waiting to help you compile and present a winning budget, and learn how to be a steward at the same time!
Copyright © 2012 by Stan A. Toler
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