Wednesday, January 10, 2007


We had our council budget meeting last night. It lasted till after 10:00 pm. It was long, grueling, awkward, and necessary. After 26 years of going through budget-making, I realize that there is no easy way. Congregational polity and ownership means scrutiny, questions, and differences of opinion. I was deeply grateful for the integrity and commitment of the men and women who worked long days, ate a quick dinner, and then spent the evening pouring over columns and figures on behalf of the congregation they represent.
Now budget meetings are not nearly as fun as a great worship service or a stimulating Sunday School class or a life-changing mission trip. Budget meetings are not as comforting as a hospital call or as moving as a wedding or funeral service. Budget meetings are not cute like the kids who gather for a children's sermon or as pleasant as a lunch out with a new member. But meetings are not as refreshing as morning devotions over coffee and a lighted candle.
Budget meetings are those tense places where vision and caution collide, where dreams and practicalities push against each other. Budget meetings are where the voice of hope is in a duet with the voice of reason and experience. Budget meetings are where a person really discovers what people believe. It's a place where the different voices and perspectives of the one body of Christ come together to wrestle and then to dance. Budget meetings are a pastoral exercise in how systematic one's theology really is.
I've seen budgets pass without comment and crash and burn. I've seen budget get expanded and reduced. I've won budget battles and I've lost budget battles. And now, years down the road, I'm not sure which ones where which. What's really important is to respect the integrity of my brother or sister in Christ, who's viewpoint and perspective is different than mine is...and who may be right.


At 11:05 AM , Blogger Kalon L said...

There is an interesting phenomena that regularly recurs with church budgets. Some people seemingly identify an expansive budget as showing more faith that God will provide, and conversely that a conservative budget reflects a lack of faith. I have alway found this curious and not scriptural (the paring down of Gideon's troops comes to mind), but it regularly comes up.

Reflecting wisdom and faith is more complicated than this formulation allows.


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