Imagine that it’s that time of the year when crafting the budget is in full swing. The financial team completed creating the budget target and provided the last 6-month’s expenses to all team leaders for reference. During the vision casting meetings, everyone seemed excited and on the same page. Then, out of the blue, the Lead Pastor declares he wants to allocate money to create a new homeless outreach ministry. At the same time, the Women’s Pastor decides she needs to invest in internal events. Of course, the Elder board is adamant about suddenly dedicating an additional 10% to supporting the missionaries. You realize that unless the Flying Wallendas are on the budget team, this just became an impossible balancing act. Having bigger dreams than the budget is a good thing. But determining what gets budget money for the year requires clarity and patience.
According to Forbes magazine, an effective mission statement should contain a clear and concise declaration about your business strategy. The Church is not a business; it is a ministry. And every church needs a clear and concise statement of its purpose, declaring why it exists. For most churches, it is usually a variation of Matthew 28:19-20. If it were only that simple, right? What brings clarity, especially during budget season, is knowing the vision of your church. The vision outlines how to achieve the mission and describes how the future looks when you fulfill the mission. When building the budget, have a clear picture of the mission and vision and decide what goals will take your church this year to move closer to achieving them. There are so many good things churches can do, but every church can’t do them all. For example, if your church’s vision is to end homelessness, what can it do this year to take a step in that direction? That kind of clarity helps define the size of the piece of the pie, but it doesn’t become the pie.
There have been times in my life when I want something so much that I cannot wait another moment to get it. Pursuing the mission of the church can be like that. But, it’s rare to have the financial resources to fund every ministry to the level of the dreams and desires of the team. What if all of the competing ministry objectives are in alignment with the mission and vision? Pull the leaders together and ask about the impact of waiting:
- What will happen if we do it now? What are the benefits and impacts? What are the unique opportunities that make this the right time?
- What will happen if we don’t do it now? What is the loss?
Waiting, while difficult to do, can often prove to be the right decision. It allows more time to pray, plan, and procure the money required to do it correctly.
When ministry leaders are clamoring for a larger piece of the budget pie, consider it a blessing. It is a sign that the leaders are excited for God to accomplish great things in and through the church. Having clear goals for the upcoming year, based on the mission and vision of the church, is the first step when balancing ministry priorities. Then exercising patience to know what can, and can’t wait, will help decide the amount when ministries compete for budget dollars. After all, most budget teams don’t have tightrope walkers to get them through this.