Budget Building: A Tension of Faith and Realism

Session Report

By Ward Shope

There are few elders who scrutinize their own personal finances as closely as they scrutinize the budget of the church. Part of that is simply the nature of group budget-building. But we also realize we are accountable to God and to the whole congregation to steward the resources we have for his glory.

Every budget includes fixed items that must be accounted for. Surprisingly, the foundational fixed item for New Life is not an expense at all. It is a commitment to our mission and vision. If we can’t describe how a budget item contributes to our overall vision, it doesn’t belong in the budget. Fixed items, such as the building mortgage, maintenance of facilities, and staff salaries and benefits all contribute to building a community centered on Jesus, active in the renewal of all things.

In addition, ministry funding, which is not as fixed, needs to aggressively push forward our vision to reach those in Dresher, Philadelphia, and the world, even as we disciple our own people. We want to fund these areas wisely and generously. We invest in our children’s and youth’s ministries because they matter to the Kingdom. Worship ministers to our larger church community and those looking to us. Our ability to engage our community through various ministries like Living for the King, Grief Share, Busy Brains, Kids in Motion, ESL, Women’s Bible Study, and many more connect people with the Kingdom. We’d love to provide as many resources as we can to this part of our vision. It’s fun to dream here.

And that’s where the tension begins. We believe that God can provide far more than we can imagine, even financially. Every budget is a statement of faith in the Lord’s providence and needs to reflect it. But we also don’t know how much we as partners in New Life’s giving can and will give. There are economic circumstances beyond our control – both positively and negatively. And there are hearts growing in different areas and in different ways within the congregation. We want to encourage joyful generous giving out of thanks to the Lord. But we need to be realistic with who we are and not be presumptive or demanding. Faith and realism walk together. And we ask you to pray in our shared ministry for wisdom. The 2015 budget will be presented at our Congregational Meeting on January 25th.