Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Missions & Budget Planning

It is budget planning time at Memorial Baptist! Since our fiscal year runs from October through September we are working through the process of making our stewardship plan for the 2009/ 2010 fiscal year. This is a critical process that we are seeking to improve on. Every one of our ministry leadership teams or committees must submit a budget plan for their ministry. Of course the church isn’t divvying up a big pot of cash sitting out there. This is a plan which estimates how much the church will give to the Lord through tithes and offerings and how we shall be good stewards of the Lord’s money for ministry. It is a faith plan but it requires much forethought so that we can be responsible and exemplary managers of what belongs to God.

So it is necessary to think through the Biblically-driven vision for the church and particular ministry. What are the goals? What are the priorities? What are the needs? Probably the most important area of our budget plan is the “missions budget”. This is the money we designate to send out or support missionaries and mission efforts. This includes supporting missionary-sending agencies like the Southern Baptist’s International Mission Board. It includes planning for and funding short-term mission teams from our own church. It includes supporting local mission organizations. By “missions” we understand this to describe gospel work and church planting. Recently I read an article by Kevin DeYoung on important questions for your missions budget. Here are his suggestions which I find extremely helpful for good stewardship and wise planning…

1. Are we supporting 1 Timothy 4:16 kind of people? The missionaries we support must set good examples of godliness and be proven to hold sound doctrine.

2. Are we supporting ministry in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth? DeYoung says, “We should be engaged in all four areas of missions. Jerusalem: ministry to those like us nearby. Judea: ministry to those like us away from us. Samaria: cross-cultural ministry that may be close to home. Ends of the earth: cross-cultural ministry that is far away.”

3. Are we striking the right balance of word and deed in the ministries we support? There is a place for social ministries (disaster relief, hunger relief, etc) but never at the expense of sharing the gospel- which effects lasting life change.

4. Are we giving priority to long-term missionaries? Short-term missions is on the rise in churches and that is great, but there are certain limitations to short-term mission teams. We must commit support to those who are entrenched in a culture and community for long-term ministry.

These questions are good guiding principles. They will keep us on track and help us be more focused on the true nature of missions- particularly as we plan financially. I love the definition John Piper provides for missions in his book on missions Let the Nations Be Glad, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.” We make missions a priority because worship is the greatest priority and we go or support goers as missionaries so that worshippers will be made through the gospel ministry.

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