Tuesday, January 25, 2022 01:41

Bless Others with Budget Surplus

iStock_000007088099X Giving Bible & Wallet

For some people, it’s been so long since they’ve seen a budget surplus they’ve forgotten what it is. Let me define terms.

Surplus: The dollar amount you receive in undesignated giving to the General Fund by December 31 (or the end of your church fiscal year) above and beyond what the approved budget calls for.  Be careful your budget is not a bare-bones, “necessities only,” type of budget.  While it should not be artificially inflated or padded, neither should the budget be balanced on the backs of underpaid staff members.  Nor should it fail to include adequate insurance, savings for capital expenditures, and an “emergency fund.”  A good budget is not one that is simply “low enough we can meet it.” A good budget is fair, balanced, realistic, and contains an element of faith.  

Before you read any further, let me tell you this idea is tried and tested.  We did it at the church I pastored.  It was an exciting time and truly motivational, but we also learned how you handle the surplus is critical. 

Here’s the idea and a few tips for making it work for you.  First, construct a realistic, healthy budget that is a bit of a stretch.  Don’t utilize this idea in a budget year in which salaries have been slashed, missions is limping, and there is no safety net in place for the church.  (By the way, the recommended percent churches should have on hand in accessible funds for emergencies is a minimum of 20%.)  If you are not in that kind of position, then this idea is not for you.  If you are in a healthy place, then this idea can spur great excitement and challenge your people to even greater generosity in giving.

Second, go through all the right channels to get approval before you make any big announcements.  This idea really works best if you announce it about the same time you go for budget approval.  The second-best time is early in the fiscal year.  (About now, if you’re on a calendar-year budget cycle.)

Third, make an announcement and public commitment that whenever the church General Fund giving meets the total annual amount called for, then the church will give away every cent received that year after the total has been met.  For example, let’s assume your church operates on a calendar year and your annual budget is $260,000.  To meet budget requires $5000 every week on average.  However, most churches will be behind budget at December 1, so we’ll include that assumption. All along you have been reminding people of the commitment to give away whatever comes in over budget.  Now for most churches December is the best month for receipts.  And let’s say that by the second Sunday of December, you’ve had two great offerings, the budget deficit has been made up, and in fact, the annual budget of $260,000 has been met!  Then you get up in the pulpit the next Sunday and praise the Lord and thank the people.  You tell them that whatever they give to the Lord on the third and fourth Sundays of December and through the end of the year will be set aside in a special savings account to be given away as quickly as possible in the first quarter of the new year.

In our church this created an extreme excitement about giving!  People were not only faithful with their normal tithes and offerings, but they were also extra generous.  People want to give, but they want to give to a vision that is bigger than the utility bill. 

From my personal experience, I now recommend that a special team of advisors be formed—including some of your generous givers.  Let them solicit ideas from the congregation as to where the surplus should be given.  Then challenge them with the task of making a recommendation to the Board as to where to give the extra funds.  (If you want to know what we did, send an email to Linden@excel-ministries.com.  I’ll share some of the creative ideas our people had for impacting their community and the world with the gospel of Christ.)

Make decisions as quickly as possible so you can maintain momentum and excitement for giving.  When the decisions have been made, perhaps some recipients can be invited to church on various Sundays to receive the checks.  Incorporate testimonies from givers and recipients as to what this experience means to them.  Whatever you do, get ready to bless others with the surplus, be sure to celebrate, thank your faithful givers, and give glory to God!

(c) Linden D. Kirby. Excel Ministries, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved.

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