A Pastoral Word
Presenting a "Narrative Budget" in June
For a while now, the leadership of Midway Christian Church has been hearing everyone say that we need a new story, that the story that we have been telling doesn't quite fit who we are as a congregation, especially when it comes to financial matters. It is easy to get caught up in the black and white figures that are listed in our bulletin and miss the wider picture of what Midway Christian Church is actually doing to live out our mission of WELCOME.
That's why this year, the Admin Team is working on and will be presenting a narrative budget at our June Board meeting and congregational meeting.
"Rather than simply presenting a spreadsheet style budget that lists columns and columns of numbers under the heading of different departments such as "Property", "Personnel", "Evangelism", and "Education"; the narrative budget (as the name implies) tells a story. The story is the congregation's story of mission and service and how the varying components of the budget contribute to our faith being lived out into our God given vision. It connects every aspect of the budget to ministry. It links every dollar to mission and every gift to faithful expression of the joy of giving and generosity of our God. Narrative budgets inspire, interpret, encourage, challenge, and inform donors about why their gift matters.
A few simple examples might include tying the area of the budget we associate with "property" (buildings and grounds) to the way in which our facilities serve as a platform for mission. Link the building to the ministries you provide that utilize that space. If you host an AA group – tell the story of transformation that accompanies such a powerful ministry – healing people and repairing families. If you have a Boy Scout Troop, tie the space they employ to the mission of building character, citizenship, and reverence. Having heat and lights on and a custodian present enable these ministries to take place. Show how a portion of the funds in this budget area are used in this way and why it matters.
When it comes to personnel, especially the minister, we are talking about more than an "office" and one line item, but worship leadership, care for the sick, visiting the bereaved, representing the church in the community, teaching the Gospel, and administrative support for the whole congregation. That salary and benefit package extends across a whole range of ministry and activity from which the church and community benefit. A narrative budget helps to explain and tell that story."
Don't worry. The narrative budget is not going to replace the financial statement. It will simply build upon it and reshape the same information within a story, a narrative.
And yes, the narrative budget will include all parts of the cost for ministry programming. Our budget will still reflect the calculated income coming into the church and the calculated expenses for operating Midway Christian Church. The Admin Team also knows that as part of the narrative budget process, many of us would still need to see a breakdown of categories. This breakdown will be included in the narrative budget handouts as well but will not be the traditional headings we are used to seeing when we review the budget.
I know this will take some getting used to for us. It will be different from the way we have always done it. But Midway Christian Church has a responsibility to share the story of our mission of WELCOME and how we live out our life together as a church. We have an exciting faith story to tell and a narrative budget can be one central piece in this process, reshaping what seems to be simply an administrative task – the understanding of our money – into an integrated story of our congregational life. If you would like more information or more examples of a narrative budget, please go to www.centerforfaithandgiving.org.