Plan Ahead with a Narrative Budget

August 20, 2018 | | Connectional Ministries, Stewardship

Before the hectic fall schedule begins, take a relaxing end of August evening to gather church leaders together at a member’s home or the parsonage, enjoy dinner or refreshments and begin to plan for how to communicate funding needs for 2019.

If you don’t currently use a “Narrative Budget” then consider developing one. You want your budget to tell a story: a story of mission and ministry. Sharing stories is very difficult to do only using numbers. Research indicates churches often fail to communicate the value of the ministries they provide and the changes occurring in personal lives through ministries. A Narrative Budget will help people see the impact.

Stories help to inspire, interpret, encourage, challenge and inform people about why their gift matters. When you write a Narrative Budget, include the congregation’s mission and vision. When people align with a vision and mission and know the commitment they are making will impact and change lives, they are more likely to invest not only their money but also their gifts and their time, which serves as an opportunity for people to go deeper in their discipleship journey.

When building the budget, identify the areas of ministry that make up who you are as a congregation. For example: Worshipping, Learning, Caring, Outreach, or Relationship with God, Relationship with Others, Faith in Action. Build the categories that make sense for your congregation.

In a Narrative Budget, every dollar is linked to mission and ministry, electricity, heating costs, building maintenance and staff salaries divided into the ministry areas at the appropriate percentage. If you are working on the “Learning” area of ministry you would include the cost of curriculum for all age levels, supplies, paid staff working in this area of ministry, administrative support and custodial support, cost of maintaining the rooms and heating, cooling and electricity.

Share a compelling story of a child that encourages parents to be more Christlike because they attended a Sunday School class or an adult who makes a commitment to hands-on mission after participating in a Bible Study focused on serving others.

Finally, always use photos to help tell the stories of ministry. We all know the saying, “A picture is worth is thousand words.”  Too many words will deter people from fully reading the budget. Photos can help you use less words.

A Narrative Budget is a great way help individuals in your congregation see ministry funding differently. It can transform a line item of money and expenses into an exciting picture of ministry and mission of the congregation.

Don’t wait! Get started now so your congregation experiences the benefits growing in generosity.