This is part two of Developing a Budget. Here is part one which was published in the July 2018 CSB.
The answer to last month’s question about tithing is ... gross. Why? Because 100 percent of what we have comes from God, and Jesus demands that we give up everything in order to follow Him. You cannot give up everything from the “net.”
In the process of creating and implementing a church budget, you have to solve the same challenge. Of our nearly 2,400 churches statewide, fewer than half actually give to the Cooperative Program. I think one reason is that they don’t understand or see the value in CP giving. Another reason is, they don’t believe they can afford to.
Our rural churches are more vulnerable to revenue fluctuation — as goes the harvest, the tithe follows. Still, I don’t believe most churches cannot afford to give. Pay attention to the things you do with your own money in a week, and see if you aren’t spending $5-$10-$30-$50 or more on fast food, fancy caffeinated beverages, snacks and other things that do not necessarily improve your life.
What is your church doing with its money? Failure to provide understandable financial reports can cover a multitude of poor choices.
A church that commits to supporting the Cooperative Program and the local Baptist association can do so in a way that does not take away from program needs. The process begins with proper budgeting and a commitment to give from the “first fruits.”
The budget must be driven by what the church intends to do in the coming year. In other words, total expenses to operate the church and all its programs must determine the revenue needed. Too many churches do this backward. They estimate what their revenue will be and try to apportion it. Instead, by deciding where the church plans to go and what it costs to get there (the essence of our “Count the Cost” process), you determine how much revenue you need. Then you “gross up” that amount to account for your association and Cooperative Program giving so it doesn’t impair those things you intended.
If you plan to give 5 percent to CP, after you determine 100 percent of your program, operating and reserve fund needs, you must gross up your unrestricted giving by about 5 percent. If you’re also giving 5 percent to the association, you’ll need to gross up revenue by about 10 percent.
After accounting for all your personnel needs, program needs and operating expenses, the increase allows you to fully contribute the 10 percent you determined was appropriate, and you still have 100 percent of what you need to cover expenses. If giving increases beyond expectations, the church can still contribute 10 percent of that “gross” and not impair its ability to fund all the things it budgeted for.
I worked this out several years ago in a spreadsheet for my church. I have more than 10 years’ experience as a church treasurer — if you need help with budgeting or accounting, please call me! CSBC wants to be your resource: firstname.lastname@example.org, 559-256-0858.