Monday, February 8, 2010

The budget as theology?

Almost all church budgets are compromised, watered-down, and squeezed-out documents. They are negative. They have no power to stir people's souls. They are divisive and invite argument.

The hard-nosed giver, when invited to pledge, will ask, "What's the budget?" Answer that question and no matter what you say, you are lost. The average budget provides no reason for generous giving and countless excuses for token giving. It is at best hesitant and fearful and at worst static and apologetic.

Ashley Hale, The Lost Art of Church Fund-raising


  1. As a consultant, have you suggested that the churches making this complaint start doing things that might make people want to contribute? It's been my experience that people who see good works being performed don't dodge the pledge calls.

  2. Geez, I think my Church's budget gives many good reasons for giving...neither hesitant, fearful, static, or apologetic...

  3. Ashley Hale's view is a more pointed than my own, but he has a point. Many budgets reflect the least a congregation can spend.
    But most liberal churches use the budget as the centerpiece of the pledge drive, and people know what they are paying for.

    In contrast, the Assembly of God denomination urges members to give money directly to God, and what the church does with it is largely irrelevant. Millions of churchgoers have never seen their church's budget, and have little interest. They trust the leadership
    to make prudent financial decisions. A novel idea.

    I don't think giving to the budget is an effective long-term strategy. People can be resentful about budget increases and often do not find paying more for utilities all that inspiring. I think reaching the 5-10 percent level in charitable giving is at the core of a religious life, a more meaningful context, one we can share with our children and grandchildren,