Sept. 25 - Oct. 1, 2006



A budget is a statement of faith

What does your church's annual budget represent?

Is it a proud menu of the hopes, dreams and missionary ministries your congregation wants to accomplish in the year to come?

Or is it a life-support prescription for how the congregation expects to pay the staff, keep the lights burning, the sanctuary heated and the grass mowed?

In a workshop recently, Terry Parsons, Stewardship Officer of the Episcopal Church, gave this "Devil's Dictionary" definition of a church budget: "It is the means by which we notify the Lord of the limitations we intend to impose on his gifts for he coming year."

If we view the budget -- and present it to our congregations -- as an administrative necessity to ensure proper financial management, then we shouldn't be surprised to wind up with bare-bones measures that are grudgingly funded.  If funded at all.

But if we present the budget to our congregations as opportunities to invest in the Kingdom of God and stretch ourselves to see how much we can do with even the nickels and dimes God has given us, then the possibilities increase.

In the end, a budget is a statement about how a congregation views the future. Do your people trust that ours is the God of abundance who rewards faithful stewards and will stand behind servants who proclaim the Kingdom of God? Or, not? Put it this way: If an outsider looked at your budget, what would he or she conclude about your congregation's faith? 

And what would be a "God's Dictionary" definition of a church budget? How about, "It is the means by which we make the most of the abundance the Lord is giving us." Hmmm. That will look nice on the cover of the annual report.

--Rob Blezard, webmaster and editor

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New This Week:

The Things That Are God's
OK, pastors, do you dread that annual stewardship sermon and need a few ideas? Here is one given by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when he was at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Ala. "I make no apologies for asking for financial support for the church. The Church has a just claim on your active, practical, and financial support if for no other reason than that your home is better, your community is better, your nation is better as a result of the existence of the Church." Click here for "The Things That Are God's," from  The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.

Eleven Steps to Better Stewardship
Your church may be doing a lot of things right, but this handy list may just give you a couple good pointers yet. Nice reality check for Stewardship Committees, pastors and other church leaders. Click here for "The starting Point of Stewardship," from the experts at the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

We surrender our heart, soul -- then wallet
"Luther said that the hardest conversion is the pocketbook. How does that occur?  Does it happen all at once?  Can anyone name the hour or the day that she first gave her pocketbook to God, the way she can name the day she gave her heart?  Click here for the latest weekly column by Pastor Dana Reardon. To read past columns, click here.

Pastor: Fund Raiser for Mission
"The time has come in our church when we, as clergy and leaders, can no longer divorce ourselves from raising money for mission. To a present culture of materialism, selfishness, and consumerism, we are called to model in our own lives and teach others Christian financial stewardship." Click here for "Pastor: Fund Raiser for Mission," by Jerry L. Schmalenberger, former president and professor of parish life at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. From the Lutheran Laity Movement archives.

Joke of the Week!

Weekly Gleanings, a sampling of articles with stewardship implications from the popular press.

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