Creating a church budget is often a tense and pressure-filled situation. All of the ways the church plans to carry out the mission, vision, and values for the upcoming year depend on the funds available, and the budget is the vehicle to disperse donations. Everyone in leadership, paid staff and volunteers alike, is looking for more money to carry out what they believe God has called them to do. The pressure intensifies at the prospect of reducing the budget. Is it an indication that God is not for that ministry, for that project, for your church? Did your blood pressure rise as you read that? While creating a church budget is a stressful and demanding process, there are a few tips that can help keep your sanity throughout.
Have a Team
When reading the biblical account of creation in Genesis, it is hard not to see that people need other people. It started in Genesis 2:18 when God sees Adam alone and declares that something He created was not good. This concept applies to all aspects of our lives, even creating a church budget. Research shows that successful teams can reduce employees’ work-related stress. But, the keyword here is successful teams. Throwing a group of people together without structure, purpose, or roles will actually add stress. To avoid adding to the stress of creating the church budget, consider building a team that includes the primary financial leader in the church, at least one qualified board member, and at least one qualified layperson. Define the roles of the team and let the dreamwork begin. As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:9, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”
Have a Plan
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a leading way to prevent stress is to have a plan, prioritize tasks, and prepare for stressful events. These findings align perfectly with Proverbs 21:5, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” The timeline for creating a comprehensive church budget can take up to four or five months. Start early and feel the stress melt away.
Prayer may be last on the list, but it should always be the first step. It seems that science continues to prove what people of faith have known all along, prayer reduces stress. According to the Association of Phycological Science, research shows that prayer can calm your nervous system, shut down your fight or flight response, and make you less reactive to negative emotions and less angry. In Romans 12:12 the Apostle Paul wrote, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Prayer is a powerful tool; take full advantage of it, especially when creating the church budget.
Anything as important as fulfilling the mission of the Church, when taken seriously, can create stress. The good news is that there are ways to reduce stress and maintain sanity throughout the process. Build a team of qualified people that share the passion for ministry and clearly define their roles. Develop a plan that can walk the budget team, staff, and ministry leaders through the process on a realistic timeline. And pray. James chapter 5 tells us that “A prayer of a righteous person, when it is brought about, can accomplish much.” Use these tools to accomplish much, even a church budget.