Does your budget reflect the gospel? How to build a Christian budget

Budget season is upon us at Southern Seminary. Today begins a 3 month budget journey where we map out our revenue and expense strategy for the 2013-14 academic year. It is our annual attempt to foretell what needs, opportunities and interests will materialize over the next year and a half.

This raises a question for me every year: what does it look like to build a budget that reflects the gospel? In other words, how can we build a distinctly “Christian” budget, whether that is in the organizations or in the families we lead? Several things come to mind:

  • Budgets are theological documents – Budgets are theological documents just as much as they are financial ones. They reflect what you believe about God and who you are in Christ. If you want to know what a Christian family or organization believes, a great starting point is to look at their budget.
  • Budgets are missional documents – Budgets should be built around this year’s gospel priorities not necessarily last year’s needs. Budget strategies usually center on warming over last year’s numbers with minor adjustments. If it was good enough for last year, it’s probably good enough for this year, right? Instead, a budget should annually assess and re-align with the most strategic opportunities to advance the mission of the organization and the mission of the gospel.
  • Budgets are doxological documents – God is more concerned with a balanced heart than a balanced budget. Before you start attempting to balance revenue and expenses, you need to start your budget with a balanced perspective. Ask yourself, am I coming into planning with the focus on me or on God? Are my desires focused on the things of this world or the things of God?

Is preparing a budget a frustrating, joyless necessity for you? Perhaps it’s because you’ve lost sight of its theological, missional, and doxological dimensions.

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