We'll Have to Pray to Make It

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I was delighted by our church's recent decision to increase our budget by something like 23% for coming fiscal year.  Now, there is some context for this.  The 2007 budget involved a scaling back, as the church began the year without a senior pastor.  In the last six months, our attendance has been blessed with increase.  Moreover, by calling me to the pulpit, the actual commitments for 2007 ended up being higher than the budget reflects.  But still, our new budget involves a whopping increase.  The increase mainly occurs in three areas: 1) the calling of a new assistant minister; 2) deferred maintaince on our building; and 3) an increase to our missions program.

I comment on this for two main reasons.  The first is that I have come to the belief that most of our church budgets are too low.  Most especially, we are not giving to missions in the way that we should.  In the midst of our great affluence, and at a time when the Holy Spirit is moving with such power in so many developing nations where money is scarce, we should be extending ourselves significantly above our current level of commitment.  But this is true in other areas: we are not as aggressive as we should be in our local outreach and in other important areas of ministry and mission.  We have developed a retreat mentality in which we are all-too-happy to have our own nice church situation, without a zeal for the world lost in darkness. The second reason why I think our budgets tend to be too low is that we church leaders are simply being risk averse.  We don't want to risk annoying the congregation by calling for them all to tithe.  We don't want the risk of a financial crunch that will sap our energy and discourage the church.  Even worse is that the thought that we may simply have very little vision for the mission of the church.  (In which case, I would recommend some trips to Africa or some similar place where the gospel is advancing so powerfully.)  When we aim for so little, we send a signal to the pews that it really isn't important that everyone tithe, that everyone spread the gospel and invite non-Christian friends to church, and that everyone pray.

I was not much involved in determining our new budget: it was handled by our deacons and ruling elders for the most part.  I just made one request: I wanted our budget to be set at a level where we will have to pray in order to make it.  Isn't that a good rule?  Let's not set our budgets at a level we can comfortably attain without needing to pray for God's provision.  (And if we are doing that, then on whom are we relying for our provision?)  Let's do what our Lord did when He fed the five thousand: let's lift our eyes to heaven, pray for God's blessing, and then step out boldly in faith to feed a hungry world.

Will we make our budget in 2008?  I really don't know.  But I sure am praying that God will provide so that His gospel might advance.
Posted December 27, 2007 @ 10:37 AM by Rick Phillips

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