This month First Baptist Church of Nitro will begin the 2012 budget process. For many of us, the whole thing may be quite confusing – lots of numbers being presented, projections being made, votes taken, then short notes in the bulletin that have even more numbers for us to digest. In this article, I’d like to share the basics of why we have a church budget and how it works.
Jesus says to us in Luke 14:27-33, Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
The first step in the budget process is developing the budget. In our church the Board of Trustees has that responsibility. They prayerfully seek to project what the church’s income will be for the coming year. They also look at projected church expenses, and then seek to balance the budget so that all the obligations will be met. They are seeking to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to their care.
The second step in the budget process is adopting the budget. The proposed budget is presented to the congregation and the congregation votes in a business meeting whether or not to adopt. When the church adopts the budget, it is committing to support the budget through contributions in the coming year. Sometimes a church congregation may vote to amend the budget, which means they change what the Trustees have presented to them. They may decrease the budget if they feel they cannot support it financially, or they may increase the budget if they would like to support even more ministry projects. Last year, our congregation voted to increase the budget, indicating that we would like to support more extensive ministry than what the original budget described.
The third step in the budget process is supporting the budget. Once the budget is adopted by the church in a business meeting, then the church fulfills its commitment to support the budget by giving to the church. Throughout the year the Trustees will indicate how well the congregation is doing in keeping their commitment by short reports in bulletins and in business meetings. For 2011, we have not done well at keeping our commitment to support the church budget.
Unlike our federal government, when we have a shortfall in income we can’t print more money to offset the difference. We also can’t force people to contribute more, since all giving is voluntary. The only choices we have are either to increase our income or to cut our expenses.
Someone may say, “Well I don’t believe we should be concerned with the budget. Let’s just trust God to provide for our needs – He will make sure everything is okay.” God certainly will provide for our financial needs. As the Scripture above describes however, He does so after we have surrendered our all to Him and after we have done our best at planning for the future.
So as the 2012 budget process begins, will you pray for the Trustees as they develop the annual ministry budget and for the congregation as we commit our financial support? Will you give regularly and sacrificially to be a part of what God is doing at First Baptist Church Nitro? Will you count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus?