Budgets. You either love or hate them. If you love them, they are a wonderful tool to help you set and meet financial goals. If you hate them, well…
Personally I think budgets are a helpful resource. There have been years when I have had success budgeting out our family finances, and there have been years when we lived paycheck to paycheck.
But this Sunday at Harvest Church, we presented the 2014 Church Budget. There's something about presenting a church budget that get me both excited and nervous. I think it comes from years of watching church leaders present their budgets to a barrage of critics, questions, judgement, and stress. I guess it comes from the fact that, when it comes to money, specifically money that is given, everyone wants to have a say it how it gets spent. I've sat through more than one meeting where the debate turned into a shouting match. Sad, really.
But none of that was the case. And praise God for it.
At Harvest Church, we decided to do something a little different. The budget is created by the Ministry Leadership Team. The Ministry Leadership Team (or MLT) is made up of our pastoral staff and the men and women hire to oversee the ministry at Harvest. We believe the budget should be set by the ones who are called and charged with responsibility of full-time ministry. The budget then is presented to the Harvest Ministry Board. The board is made up of men and women, members of the church, charged with the task of managing the items of property, finances, bylaws, and matters of governance. If the board finds the budget to be acceptable, meaning the MLT isn't going crazy with numbers, the budget is approved.
With the boards approval, the budget is then presented to the church family at our annual informational meeting. That is what we celebrated this Sunday. And here is what I loved about our, the budget was set to bring the church to a place where we would have to take a big step of faith.
I believe God has called us to do something incredible at Harvest Church. I also believe that God has given us the opportunity to step out in faith, trusting that He is provide. Our budget for 2014 includes a more than $20,000 increase. That's a big increase for our very young church.
But I am convinced that God has given us a ministry and a budget. Sure it's more than we can do on our own. But that's the point. For years I have watched as churches project budgets based on what their giving is. As the various ministries of the church give their respective budgets to the budget committees, you hope that your budget is accepted. But what happens is, the budget committee evaluates the amount of gifts given in the previous year and then project, or guess, the amount of gifts that will be given in the year to come. If the submitted numbers fall within the projected giving amount, then the budgets is accepted. But what room is left for God to do something miraculous?
If we base our budgets on what we know we can do, how do we step out in faith and leave room for God to do what only God can do? But when we know our limits and insist on trusting God, we leave room for the Owner of the cattle on a thousand hills to open the flood gates of blessing.
We want to see God do amazing things. And if it begins with the budget, then it begins with the budget. But I am excited. Really excited. There's an anticipation among our church family. A hunger for God to work in us and through us. And I want the church to see the amazing power of God. It's a big budget for a little church, but it's nothing that our God can provide.
2014 has been designated as an #EPIC year for a reason. And it's really getting exciting!
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