Where Is Your Treasure?
In Matthew 6:21 Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. This is part of a lengthy discourse on the Christian life. We understand this applies to us as individuals. We’re to give for God’s work and thereby build up treasure in heaven. I think the principle applies to churches as well. What we spend God’s money on says a lot about where our heart is as a church. Also important is how we decide how to spend His money. And it is His money because everything we have comes from Him.
Much of the time, the church budget process is just a matter of looking at our expected income and then deciding how to allocate it based on what our expenses have been for the past year. Where is God in this process? If we’ve left Him out should we be surprised when He doesn’t provide what we want? In Matthew 16:18 Jesus says, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Do our budget processes reflect the understanding that it is Jesus that is supposed to be building His Church? Do we even ask Him what His plans are for our churches? In Psalm 127 we read, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” Have we been struggling, maybe for years, because the Lord hasn’t been doing the building?
The bishop wants to encourage every parish, mission, church plant, and ministry in the diocese to go through a process of prayer asking for God’s guidance in how the mission to go and make disciples teaching them everything he has commanded is to be carried out in our respective communities. Remember the bishop’s watch words Rooted, Missional, andCompassionate. Ask Jesus to reveal the church he wants to build in your community and then ask him how he wants you to help. Come up with the ministries first, then the associated expenses. Finally plug in revenues and ask God to provide them. And then pray some more.
The bishop is leading the diocese to do likewise in the development of the diocesan budget. We are going to flip the script from financing decline to rewarding evangelism, mercy ministries, innovation, and growth. The diocese will be sending out a letter asking for budget requests. Guidelines will be provided on the important information that needs to be included. If you don’t submit a request you’re not going to get funding. When the diocese receives all of the responses we will go through a process of praying first and then looking for the proposals that have the most potential to build the kingdom. Once the budget is approved and submitted to Synod we’re going to live with it for the next 12 months. Except for emergency situations, there will be no mid- year funding of requests. When Jesus looks at how our diocese spends money we want him to see that our heart is for His mission. If you have asked Jesus how you can help him build his church you can count on the promise he makes at the end of the great commission. “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” With Jesus by your side, you can’t fail.
Father Jim Fosdick SSC
Canon to the Ordinary