Do you notice how difficult it is for many Christians to talk about money? As a colleague and I reflected as to why that might be, she said, “It’s hard for us to talk about money, yet we don’t realize that the way we are using our money is speaking for us.” Our budgets, spending, and giving tell a story about us. This is true for individuals and for the church. Our budgets have the potential to tell about God’s work among God’s people. It can inspire and engage people in ministry in new ways.
On September 3, World Renew hosted a webinar: Re-imagining Church Budgets to Reflect Kingdom Values. Andy Ryskamp, CRCNA consultant and former Co-Director of World Renew and Shayna Harvey, Managing Director of The Insight Advisory Group and Associate Pastor of Spirit and Truth Fellowship Church in Philadelphia discussed ways in which our budgets, especially in these uncertain and insecure times, need to be reevaluated with kingdom vision and values. You can watch the webinar below.
I want to highlight two takeaways about storytelling from the webinar. First, one of the participants mentioned the inspirational nature of Narrative budgets. Using a narrative budget could be a great way to tell the story of how your congregation practices stewardship of time, talent, treasure, and trees and provides vision to where the church hopes to be. A narrative budget “makes a direct connection between God’s story and mission taking place through a congregation and the resources entrusted to them by telling stories of how the Holy Spirit is moving in their midst.” (Narrative Budgets: A Different Way to Develop Your Congregations Spending Plan)
Second, if our ministry plans and budgets tell a story, I wonder what story our community hears and sees through us. This year in particular, we anticipate renewed and imaginative ways of working with our community. In particular as we plan where and how to give, are we doing so in relationship with others or by transactions to others? As Matthew Skinner, Professor of NT at Luther Seminary states, “ Giving is an expression of true solidarity with others. This is a solidarity that refuses to let inequalities stand.” Jesus’ vision is radical, and he wants his followers, in their radical dependence on him, to be part of a different world—or “kingdom.” With Jesus, that kingdom has arrived, indeed “the kingdom of God is among [us]”.
If that is true, then our ways of thinking, acting, giving and planning need to be restored to Jesus’ way. Giving and serving then isn’t about merely helping those with less, it’s about a rethinking of why and who holds power and advantage and a reshifting and sharing of all God’s resources he has provided to his children.