Budgeting for a Healthy Church
Review by Hilary Guenther
What is the subject?
Budgeting for a Healthy Church touches on all major points of giving in a church. When your church develops a budget, there are many outlets to spend the money: outreach, fixed expenses, building projects, staff salaries, church-funded programs, or campaign projects. The book calls the reader to scrutinize every aspect of where your church’s money goes with the question: Does your budget support or hinder healthy ministry?
Who is the author?
Jamie Dunlop is associate pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC. He oversees administration and has written this book with the help of his education in engineering and decade of experience in business.
Why this book?
Imagine gathering round the table at your family get together and asking: “Do you believe the amount of money you are giving to your church that represents faithfulness?”
You may be met with disapproving glares, you may be shushed, food may be spit across the table, AND your mother may remind you about manners.
That is why I was drawn to this book. Our culture constantly reminds us to not talk about money. Save it up and zip the lip. But what are we saving it for? You can’t take it with you.
And who decided it was rude to bring up? In the New Testament, Jesus taught more about money than he did about heaven and hell. It is refreshing to read someone lay out the questions because it is time for us to ask one another.
The book focus mainly on the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. The master gives three servants talents (money). Two servants double what they have and one buries his in the ground. The first two servants are given different amounts which indicates that God doesn’t need your money (referenced in the quote below) but rather our faithfulness. The third servant is lazy with his money and serves two people; his master and himself. He has no faith that his master will return, but if he does, no harm done, he can dig up the money and he will have wasted none of his time working for that master, but instead worked for himself. His reception when the master returns, however, is not warm.
The MB Confession of Faith is clear that we cannot serve both God and wealth (as the third servant tried to do). And this book aligns with that statement. We must give cheerfully and generously, sacrificially and proportionally. At every, turn this world will tell us differently. Our money cannot come with us, it can only function on this side of eternity. Let’s take what our master (God) has given us and invest it into our church to invest in ministries that will generate the growth of Christ’s body.
Other relevant information
This book is not skimpy on the resources you can use. It has checklists, graphs, and charts freely downloadable for every church to help align their budget, review the budget goals, and track the budget.
The author also gives advice on how pastors should respectfully broach the subject of money – mostly through pastoral teaching and, at all costs, not with guilt. It lists all possible ministry areas a church could be invested in and offers help to determine if those ministries are worthy of the goal that God has for your church or if you should let them peacefully pass.
Who should read this book?
In short, everyone. The only downside I found in this book is that the beginning focuses heavily on financial decisions being made by the pastors/elders. If you are not one of these you may feel that reading this book will be a waste of your time. I assure you it is not. Everyone will one day stand before the throne of God. You will have to account for what you did with the resources bestowed upon you. Did you invest it to make the harvest grow or did you bury it in the ground thinking there may be a chance your master never returns?
“Articulating God’s goal for your church’s budget is surprisingly challenging because God doesn’t need you budget. Psalm 50:12 makes this clear: “If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.” God isn’t waiting with his hands tied, helplessly hoping against hope that you’ll lend him a hand.”