In October of 2001, Steve Jobs introduced the world to a small device, with a clickety wheel, that could hold up to 1,000 sounds songs and fit in your pocket – the iPod. At that point in time, Apple’s product line consisted of Macintosh computers. Venturing into a new market with an unknown product line was risky. Would anyone want a small portable digital music player? Twenty years later, the answer is, of course! The introduction and success of the iPod led to Apple’s domination in the smartphone/device market with the iPhone and iPad. It’s hard to imagine life without those innovations today. That’s a nice bit of trivia, but what does that have to do with the church budget? Actually, quite a bit. Jobs didn’t venture out of the safe product line of Macintosh computers, develop something entirely new and different, to get in front of investors and industry leaders without telling a story of why the iPod was not a risk. Jobs carefully painted a picture by describing a future he wanted everyone to see. Simply put – he cast the vision. Apple may have budgeted money in research and development for new products, but that alone would not lead to sales or acceptance of the product. The same is true for churches. People don’t typically give because the financial team or lead pastor has a special meeting to share the new budget. A well-crafted budget does not fund the church’s ministries; it only allocates the donations. Vision funds ministry. That statement may have made many of you bristle. Let me assure you that I am not a heretic. For those who follow Jesus:
- Giving is an expression of worship
- Should excel in the grace of giving
- Giving is an expression of their love for Jesus
- Should give willingly and cheerfully
- Should be generous in giving (not focused on a particular amount)
- Giving is a natural response to God’s gracious gift to humans
And that is not an exhaustive list.
Do You See What I Did There?
Vision is a way to show people the desired end state. The list above shows a few biblical reasons that followers of Jesus should give and provides a picture of an end state for Christians – to be generous. It’s not unbiblical to describe a future you want to see in your church, community, or the world as long as it aligns with God’s purpose or mission for the Church. I’ve found real-life examples often help me to apply theory to practice.
Mission – The reason or purpose for the existence of the church. Most Christian churches will use some form of the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:16-20 as their mission statement. Example mission statement: Helping people find and follow Jesus. (Yes, that is the mission statement from my church…)
Vision – The inspiration to accomplish the mission of the church. How can we, as a church body, achieve this mission? What will it look like to do this? Example vision statement: Deepen Faith, Bring Hope, Live Love (Yep, that’s also from my church.)
How Does this Relate to the Church Budget?
If the mission is to evangelize and grow disciples in their faith, the vision shows how the church will carry out that mission. Sharing the vision informs your church what it looks like to deepen the faith, how the church will bring hope to the community, and what it looks like when the church genuinely lives love. In the same way that Steve Jobs touted the possibilities of the iPod to help people see the value, churches need to show how they are carrying out the mission. I’m going to cast another vision: Imagine a church (the people not the building) so moved by the love of Jesus that they cannot help but share the Gospel with people they meet. That church (the people not the building) is reaching out to the under-resourced, the forgotten, the lonely, the sinners. That church (the people not the building) invests time into disciplining them to follow all that Jesus commands. I wonder how much time that church needs to spend asking for money to fund the budget.