Boring! That’s what many church members say about church budget presentations. Budgets contain lists of details that may seem tedious and complex to the average believer. A few folks seem to pay attention. Predictably they ask questions and/or offer complaints. They may go home without sensing the great importance of what they have just experienced. But what if the budget was presented as an act of worship, as a ministry-focused document, and as a people-oriented basis for prayer?
The last two years our church leadership team has presented the budget in a different setting to help the congregation prayerfully participate in the worship and ministry aspects of the church’s annual financial plan. The setting we have chosen may be surprising; the budget is presented as an illustration and application within the Sunday morning sermon!
Last January we began the new year with a sermon series on stewardship. After a beginning message on the value of believers as stewards before God, we had a three-week message series on the topics of time, talents, and treasure. Two weeks before the message series began, we placed the budget in the worship folder. For the sermon on the stewardship of our treasure (2 Corinthians 9:1-15), we shared four principles of giving: attitude, generosity, thoughtfulness, and purpose. In this context within the sermon, the details of the budget were reviewed as specific items for which to practice these principles.
This year we followed a similar approach. Instead of opening with a series on stewardship, we began the year with expository messages on prayer. Printed budgets were placed in the worship folders for the first week. That Sunday’s sermon, What God Wants to Hear, presented the Lord’s teaching on prayer (Matthew 6:5-15). When we discussed the need to ask God for our daily provision (v. 11), we explained the meaning and the various applications that could be made for all of life, including church ministry. We underscored our absolute dependence upon Him for all things, including the budget. At that point we challenged the people to pray through the budget as a prayer list and explained the list of items in terms of people and ministry.
These examples have helped the pastoral team and the congregation to focus on the budget in a fresh and vibrant way as part of worship, prayer, and specific needs rather than dusty numbers that only an accountant could love.
Dr. Mike Stallard, Pastor
New Life Baptist Church