A church budget is an important tool for every congregation and church leadership to use. Not just because it helps the church to know where money is being allocated, but also because Christians are called to be good stewards of what God has given them. And while the Bible does not specifically address how churches and their leaders are to build a church budget, it does have much to say about money and how to live as wise and Godly stewards.
In Luke 14:28-30 (ESV), Jesus says, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” This verse shows the importance of a budget as a tool that helps churches to know whether or not they have the ability to complete the work they have before them. Budgets help church leaders to know not just where their money is going, but also how much money they have on hand for different ministries. Counting the cost first keeps churches from overextending themselves financially before the foundation is laid.
The book of Proverbs is full of much wisdom concerning money and its uses, but one proverb that is helpful for church leaders crafting a budget is Proverbs 22:7 (ESV) which says, “The rich rules over the poor, but the borrower is the slave of the lender.” This proverb is a good reminder to budget within your means. A church that budgets poorly may find itself in dire need of financial resources and thus put the leadership at the whim of wealthy members who feel what they contribute financially gives them a larger say in how the church should conduct its business. Or a church may over-extend itself and have the need to take out a loan, but as this proverb states, borrowers will always be in service to their lender. Meaning that before a church can meet ministry needs, they must first pay back their lender. So this proverb is both encouragement and warning to budget within the means of the church so that the church may be free to do the work God has called it to.
Finally, Jesus commands all Christians not to store up treasures on earth but to have treasure in heaven. This command is a good reminder for churches that while it is good to be a steward of what God has blessed one with, the most important thing a church can do is not to have faith in their bank account or final budget line, but to ensure that the budget serves as a tool for the church to be storing up their treasure in heaven. For budgets come and go, but the work of the church is an enduring legacy.
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