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how can I keep the church "vision driven" when the financial budget is tight?

By Stephen Mathews | 15 November 2012

Churches find that finances can often become a source of conflict, particularly between the spiritual leadership team and the legal trustees who may have differing priorities and concerns.

This sense of conflict can become heightened when finances are stretched or where the leadership team prayerfully discerns that God is taking the church into a new area. It is all too easy for churches to inadvertently allow their financial budgets and other administrative processes to place constraints on what God is seeking to do.

At Stewardship, we believe that discerning God’s calling and purpose for your church must always be at the heart of your plans, visions and budgets but we also recognise the realities and responsibilities that trustees face as they seek to fulfil their legal responsibilities and to balance the books.

Communication and dialogue between the leadership, the trustees and the wider church community, supported by prayer, will go a long way towards aligning those differing priorities. It will also help to hone and sharpen the vision of the church. The leadership must take every opportunity to communicate the direction they believe God is leading them. They should engage the church community with that vision and clearly explain the implications, whether spiritual, practical or financial.

Encouraging an environment of open dialogue will allow the church community to weigh the vision, to engage with the leadership and to respond appropriately: potentially by way of increased financial support, committing more time, or perhaps in other ways. As God grows the vision in the hearts of the church community, it may be that any perceived deficit in the financial budget is plugged by a financial response.

However, churches must remember that income is only one side (the uncertain side) of the financial budget, with expenditure being the other. Whilst the church leadership should ask their church community to respond to the perceived call of God, they also have a responsibility to examine the current spend in light of that vision, and determine whether the current resources of the church are being properly used.

Responsible financial budgeting is definitely a good thing. Without it churches can often find themselves running into serious problems. However, a budget must always be the servant rather than the master.

Churches exist to fulfil the purposes of God rather than simply to manage their budgets so that they can continue to exist into the future. As with any other issue, dialogue, communication, openness, honesty, transparency and prayer go a long way to ensure that the right balance is struck.

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Image source: Tax Credits

Posted by Stephen Mathews
 
Stephen is a Senior Consultant at Stewardship and has spent over 25 years in the accountancy profession. Stephen is a trustee for a number of small Christian charities and has been involved in various church leadership roles for over 20 years.

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