February 12, 2015 Tony Morgan

Show Me the Money: The Difference Between Wise and Foolish Budgeting

There are generally two types of churches when it comes to how they manage their money. The first group looks at what came in last year and then adds a percentage that it hopes to receive in the coming year. They view that additional percentage as the “faith” portion of their budget.

There are other churches that begin in the same place. They first look at what came in last year, but they subtract a percentage from what they expect to receive in the coming year. They would argue that the entire budget requires faith.

Obviously, these are the two extremes, there are also many churches that are somewhere in the spectrum in between. These two approaches to managing money, though, do lead to two very different outcomes. For that reason, I’d place the first churches in the “foolish” category when it comes to stewardship of financial resources, and I’d consider the second group to be “wise” in the their approach. This table details the trends that distinguish the two:

Budgeting Trends

I want churches to be wiser with their financial resources, because it creates opportunities for generosity, including investments in new Kingdom initiatives that the foolish will never be able to afford.

Which direction does your church lean. These questions might help you diagnose your tendency:

  • Do you plan to spend less than you reasonably expect to receive?
  • Are you willing to make tough calls and cut expenditures in some areas to fund ministry priorities?
  • Have you found yourself in the enviable position of finding new ways to bless others or expand your vision because you received more than you planned to spend?
  • Are you fully funding your growth engines, both numerical and spiritual, to experience new Kingdom impact rather than just funding what you’ve done in the past?
  • Does your budgeting process create freedom for ministry leaders to accomplish the mission God’s placed on your church?

If you answered no to any of these questions, it may be time to revisit whether or not you are wisely stewarding your financial resources.

Check out some additional conversation our team has been having about wise budgeting:

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Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, theunstuckgroup.com. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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