Thursday, January 11, 2007

Money, Money, Money

Last night was charge conference for Del Rosa UMC. We served a potluck supper, and our table was quite literally overflowing. Not bad for a group of 30 people, two six foot tables and a four foot tabel stretched toegther, and lots of casseroles and salads, and more than a few desserts.

What I found to be an interesting juxtaposition during the evening was the conversation surrounding the budget. This year we are trying a new format where we disclose in the budget all of our expected expenditures, and show the conversant income side to these expenditures. The finance committee hashed all of this out over the course of three meetings, and then presented the budget to the Administrative Council, that then tweaked it a bit more and passed the entire budget.

Last night, the budget became an issue once more as persons did not feel that the income side and the outflow side matched well enough, though the bottom lines matched up. Additionally there was concern that we would be having to pay higher apportionments with this new budget, and that we ought not to include our missional giving as a line item in the budget.

Now, there were two interesting pieces to this particular part of the conversation for me. The first is the very obvious part where we are required at the end of the year to show all expenditures and all income for the local congregation to file our IRS forms, and to be in compliance with our accounting to the Conference Office. The concern comes that we are trying to show it up front at the beginning of the year as we try to establish our patterns of giving and show what it really costs to run the mission and life of the Del Rosa Congregation.

Let me also say that this "new" accounting procedure came out of last year's stewardship moments in church. We had four moments and during three of the four there were questions raised about providing goals for the local church in the area of giving, as we previously had not established a budget until after we had received all of our pledges. This year the finance committee tried hard to provide goals, and to list the areas we also give to in missions. During this year's stewardship time there was some concern among the congregation that they did not understand this "new"method of accounting. When talking with the finance committee we spoke about the reality that this change would probably take about five years to fully get implemented since it was new and would take time to get it right and to educate the congregation. This is indeed the case as borne out last night.

Now, for the juxtaposition and the moment of clarity. We had this beautiful table of foodl aid out before us, with breads, meats, vegetables, fruits, desserts, dairy and more. We "showed" the people our "goals" for the night with the plates we brought with us to serve into, and each brought what he or she could. At the end of the night we had so many leftovers that persons who had brought items were trying hard to find someone else to take them home so that they did not have to eat these items again and could continue in their menu rotation at home.

It seems to me that the church budget is not unlike the potluck. We bring what we can, hoping to provide as much as we can, with our various "dishes" laid out at each table. At the conclusion of the evening we had leftovers. In the church this past several years we had leftovers too, that we set aside for other missions, and to pay future bills. I am sure that showing how many need to be "fed" with what we have to provide is part and parcel of the budgeting process.

May you find abundance in your giving and in your sharing in and through your budgets.



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