One of the most misquoted verses in all of scripture is in Paul’s first letter to his protege Timothy. Those unfamiliar with the Bible often say that money is the root of all evil, as though they have memorized a Bible verse. Most Christians know that’s not what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:10. Here’s The Voice translation, “For the love of money—and what it can buy—is the root of all sorts of evil. Some already have wandered away from the true faith because they craved what it had to offer; but when reaching for the prize, they found their hands and hearts pierced with many sorrows.” That’s quite a bit different than the misquoted verse.
Money is neither evil nor good; it’s just a tool. In the hands of the right person or organization, it can feed the hungry, house the homeless, care for the widows and orphans, and share the good news of Jesus Christ. And we know all too well what happens when it falls into the hands of depraved, greedy, and selfish people. Paul implores Timothy in verse 11 to run away from these things! He reminds him that he is a man of God and, as such, he should pursue justice, godliness, faithfulness, love, perseverance, and gentleness.
Paul’s words to Timothy are more relevant now than ever to those in church leadership. Churches need to steward (manage) God’s money in a way that shows a watching world what it looks like when God’s people use it the right way. With that in mind, here are the top three reasons a church needs to have (and follow) a budget.
The top reason why churches need a budget is to demonstrate stewardship. Stewardship is a very outdated term that basically describes the careful and responsible oversight of something. At this point in time, Christians might be the only people still using this word, especially when discussing money. Regardless of the term we use, as followers of Jesus, let’s begin with the understanding that God owns everything (Psalm 24:1, Haggai 2:8, Psalm 50:10, 1 Chronicles 29:12). The picture churches must have is that God is the owner, and he entrusts us to manage his money. Having a budget demonstrates that the church has prayerfully and thoughtfully mapped out how it plans to invest every dollar. It shows careful and responsible oversight of money.
Sin likes to hide in the darkness, and there are far too many examples of church embezzlement and other moral failings. Building and sharing the church budget with the congregation puts a spotlight on how the church manages its finances. Being transparent with the church budget builds trust with the congregation and the community. Steven Covey, who wrote 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said, “Trust is equal parts character and competence.” Creating and following a church budget demonstrates both. It requires competence to make a church budget and character to share and follow it. Churches must be open and transparent when it comes to sharing its budget.
One definition of a church budget is the purposeful allocation of the financial resources God entrusted to the church. Every church needs a church budget to pursue its mission, which means developing a plan for spending every dollar. Operating a church is expensive, and just like any other business, it has compensation, facilities, ministry, and operational costs. The budget is the plan that allocates the resources effectively to accomplish the mission.
Reread 1 Timothy chapter 6 and hear Paul’s heart for churches to pursue righteousness and avoid having their hearts pierced by the many sorrows that loving money brings. Instead, churches must manage God’s money well, be transparent with the church body, and develop a plan to allocate every dollar.short url: