The Church, Missions & Technology

3 Noticeable Observations: Church Budget

The second noticeable observation is a huge change in money and the church. I knew that things were going down hill in the early 2000s when I was in seminary. People acted different and Chuck Kelly, president of NOBTS said that Baptists if they did not change would soon embrace the dwindling numbers of other denominations. So what happened to all of the money? Did we spend it all? Did we misuse it some how? Or is money just not coming in like it used to in all churches in America. And the answer is YES. Let me be clear its not like all churches had people embezzle money from their accounts. Some did, but for the most part pastors and church leadership did the best they could with the knowledge they had.

Where did it go?
For the most part the cost of action and activity has steadily increased over the past decade. The cost of living continues to increase and items just cost more than it used to. But that would mean that as people receive cost of living increases their tithe should increase as well. For the most part people are tithing but not full amounts. Now it doesn't matter which side of the fence you rest on, ten percent before or after taxes, most church members today are not tithing anywhere close to ten percent. I know a pastor who on more than one occasion has asked the leaders in the church if they are tithing and most of them said no. This is where church discipline has lost its place in the church. No one should ever hold any leadership position in the church if he or she is not regularly tithing. One quick word related to missions and tithing. Only Southern Baptist churches as a whole, take portions of the tithe money and pass it on to denominational mission endeavors. When mission agencies have to cut budgets dramatically do not just give to them and be done. So let me clear, if you choose to directly support a missionary you need to never compromise your tithe in light of the support to the missionary. Tithing to the local church is a command and we need to make sure that we are giving back to God what is really already his in the first place.

Are We Spending Money on The Right Things?
The church programs and what I like to call “extra biblical” items have not been cut and so therefore money is not going to the most important aspects of the church and her mission. We have to learn how to do more with less. This is a new concept for those who have experienced large church budgets with paid staff. We have to prioritize the most important things and spend the limited resources on those items. The problem with this is most people do not agree with what are the most strategic items related to the church. This is where missionaries and church planters can really take a look at where churches are spending money and make recommendations on what changes can be made to make the most impact on making disciples of all nations. However, how often do you see churches taking advice from church planters and missionaries.

How do we do more with less?
That is a loaded question. First we need to start thinking smarter. But, not from a business standpoint. We need to look at where we are falling short and make plans and goals to take immediate action. The author of Socialnomics said of businesses that do not have a social media presence will die in less than five years. I believe that if churches do not take advantage of new and emerging technologies they too will die in less than five years. I am reminded of the recent changes with the international mission board and those same drastic cuts need to take place in every church, association and church planting network in order to prepare for the future. We need to look to creating realistic sustainability. We have to take more advantage of our biggest asset, the members that sit in the pews on a weekly basis and never do anything. We need to make sure we are calling people to action every time we stand before them to remind them of the mission, of Jesus, and of making disciples of all nations.