dgenerosityThese hot and hazy days of summer will soon be gone, and one of the busiest times of the church year is just around the corner. All of the fall programming returns, new Ruling Elders are trained and ordained, and preparing the budget for the coming year looms in front of us.
When your committees and session begin the fall budgeting process, consider asking these questions: What have we been doing to make disciples of Jesus Christ? What evidence do we have that persons are growing in their relationship with Christ as a result of what we are doing? Have we grown in the number of persons who are coming to worship, involved in learning opportunities, or committed to giving their life to missions? How does our budget reflect this? Consider the following approach to putting together your annual budget:
- Embrace the church budget as an expression of the church’s mission and ministry.
- Consider the projected income in the church budget as the expected giving potential of the congregation.
- Calculate expected giving using a three to five-year average of giving with a projected increase based on anticipated giving growth.
- Let the projected expenses reflect a commitment to the ways in which God has called the church to be in ministry.
- Make a plan to continue successful ministries and be open to a vision for new ministries.
- Present the church’s vision and ministry to the congregation through the presentation of the budget.
Lots of time, effort, and angst go into the pledge drive each year, often with the result that most people give about the same as the year before. A new theme each year is a common practice in our churches to convince people to give to the church. In some ways, we have lost the real meaning of conducting a stewardship emphasis in the fall. I believe we are called to separate pledging from the budgeting process and to deepen our spiritual understanding of pledging. Here are some ways to broaden the congregation’s perspective on pledging:
- Pledging is an expression of our response to God for all that we have received from God.
- Pledging is our commitment to God through the ministries of the churches where we serve.
- Pledging is a spiritual discipline and practice.
- Commit to a year-round stewardship emphasis that focuses on the importance of pledging from a spiritual perspective.
- Preaching and teaching are opportunities for developing a spiritual depth of generosity and giving that focuses on a personal commitment to God through our pledging and giving.
- Celebrate new pledges and increases in pledges as a measure of spiritual growth in the congregation.
Michael Durall says, “Churches can create myriad opportunities for people to examine the use of money in their lives, and to utilize their resources in ways that make the world a better place. These opportunities allow the church to discuss money without asking people for it, and are important aspects of the true meaning of stewardship.”
Deborah Rexrode, Associate for Stewardship
Presbytery of the James