How Do You Set the Budget?

do you ask or tell what the contribution should be?

How do you present the budget in your congregation? Is it simply a business transaction? Do we do it like we’ve always done it — look at last year’s budget; increase it by 7-10%; tell everyone what they need to give this year?

Gail and I have been living on a budget for nearly fifty years. I haven’t gone to my employers (elders) with this presentation: “Gail and I have been working on our budget for next year. We’ve looked at our expenditures, new needs, and inflation. We also believe we deserve a merit raise. Therefore, here’s our budget for next year. Please fund this for us.”

[tweetthis]Here’s our budget for next year. Please fund this for us.[/tweetthis]

My experience has been elders evaluate my work, comparable compensation of preachers in the area, and the financial condition of the congregation. They tell me my income for the year. I go home and announce to Gail what we’ll be making. We sit down at our computer and decide how we’ll spend the income paid to us.

A few years ago I wondered why we did it the opposite way in the church. I suggested to the elders where I was working as an interim to think about this concept. They considered it. Since then, they’ve been asking Christians what they’re planning to give and budgeting that amount instead of budgeting what the elders wanted and telling Christians what they needed to give to fund the budget.

Giving Intent Card, LaVergne Church of Christ

Giving Intent Card, LaVergne Church of Christ

Giving Intent Card in Word format

It’s been my experience when people think about giving, they give more liberally. At least two times in my ministry, we planned a month of lessons on giving from the pulpit and home studies for families. Both times the contribution increased and maintained a higher level.

Unless asked, few people think about how and how much they give. When given an opportunity to think, discuss, and pray about this grace, many people grow in this spiritual exercise.

[tweetthis]When people think about giving, they give more liberally.[/tweetthis]

Suggestions

  1. Meet with the deacons and all members in large and small groups. Discuss needs and opportunities of the community, area, and the world. What has God prepared this church to do to spread the gospel in word and deed?
  2. Refine and combine ideas. Give specific works that will challenge this congregation as a whole and individual Christians. Present plans that fit into the mission of the Lord’s church with no money attached discussing projects for sharing the gospel from this congregation.
  3. Ask the church to consider and pray about this for two weeks.
  4. Request each family to hand in how they’d like to take part financially and in other ministry to do what we’ve been dreaming and praying about.
  5. Fund the work to the extent the people have agreed to give.

Observations

  • Not everyone will participate.
  • Enough will cooperate to give a good indication of the amount of the contribution for the coming year.
  • Many will contribute more when given the vision of what God can do in His church than if we read a spreadsheet during the announcements and tell them the amount to give next year.

What have you seen effective in encouraging Christians to grow in the grace of giving?
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2 thoughts on “How Do You Set the Budget?

  1. Jerry, I tried this in NJ many years ago. We called it Purpose Giving…based on 2Cor.9:7. At first I thought my life was in danger…..but after they got it…our giving increased 50%. So…it works. Thanks

    • Bill, I think when people THINK they will THANK and express that in action. Thank you for your experience and insight.