We had our Church’s 2014 AGM recently and we decided to try a new thing…
Every year we try to a new way of communicating a holistic perspective of church (helping people realise that church is more than their personal experience of it) – here’s one from last year. This year we tried to go really simple and didn’t include heaps of structures and aspects of church in the design (See the full design here).
But the big difference we did this year was two-fold; seating people at tables, and making it a prayer-night.
We setup the room like a cafe; paper on square tables, cups and water, candles, a plate of finger food.
Our Senior Pastor opened the Bible and encouraged us from Philippians 1 that it’s so appropriate that Christians give thanks for God’s work in us and through us. We prayed.
We opened the AGM with apologies, and a couple of people confirmed the minutes from last year. We heard a 2 min report from the Committee (Elders/Board), asked some questions and prayed. We got a finance summary of 2014, asked questions and gave thanks. We closed the formal meeting, but opened up to further prayer.
We walked though the significant ministries at our church; the Mission activities… and we prayed. The Membership and Maturity activities and groups… and we prayed. The Magnification and Ministry activities… and we prayed.
Along the way we didn’t sing, but we got some of our musos to perform a couple of songs they’d just finish writing. We enjoyed their talent and gave thanks.
It might not have been what people were expecting – it was a bit different to what I was expecting, and I organised it – but by the end of the night it felt like a night well spent. And that’s as good AGM in my book.
Since so much of this blog is about things I’m learning and developing through my ministry at Hunter Bible Church, I think it’s worth discussing some principles that shape how we communicate our spending and financial plans.
We’ve just had our “Gospel Proclamation Investment Night”. It’s a night where we talk about God’s plan for the universe, and our prayers to be part of that as a church, and how much those plans are going to cost in the next year. But we don’t think “cost” is the right word… Because every dollar put towards Jesus’ kingdom is a dollar invested. It’s a privileged to give – it might also be a sacrifice – but it’s a privilege none the less.
So how should our church invest it’s income in 2015? That’s what the night was about.
We sang to God together, we looked at Revelation 5, we had a time for people to ask any question at all about the money and why we’ve made the plans we have. And then we prayed and prayed some more and sang.
But the tool we used to go through the material was a little folded page. It tries to communicate how our spending is changing from 2014 to 2015, and clearly express where that spending goes.
Check it out here…. 2014 HBC GPI Booklet
It’s worth being aware of the many reasons we Christians (myself included) come up with to justify being all “I love JESUS!” with our mouths, but all “I can’t give money”. You’ve probably heard the line, “the last part of a man to be converted is his wallet”.
Here’s some reasons that might going on in people’s hearts…
- “I don’t feel led to give at the moment”
= being obedient to Jesus isn’t enough for me, I want him to make me feel good about it too, OR
= I’m not a christian, OR
= My church hasn’t worked hard enough to prove to me why I should give them my money, OR
= I think my money is mine, not God’s.
- “I don’t have much money to give at the moment”
= Jesus won’t be pleased with me unless I can give lots, OR
= I won’t be pleased with myself unless I can give lots, OR
= I’m waiting for God to give me more money, because he wouldn’t want me to part with any of this, OR
= I’m actually starving, I have no money, and I don’t know where I’m going to get money from in the next month.
- “I give to other things, rather than my church”
= I want to disassociate myself from this group of people; I’ll attend, but that’s all, OR
= I don’t see why my church needs my money, I think it’s operating fine without mine, OR
= Other people can give to my church, and no-one will know I don’t, OR
= Other churches/ministries need it more than my church, even though the bible says I should give to my church (i.e. I disagree with God).
A budget is an agreed target for income and an agreed target for expenses. So what happens if your income is less than your expenses?
If you talk about income vs expenses, then the obvious question will be, “how are we going to lower our expenses to match income?”
But if you talk about budgeted (or target) income vs budgeted (or targeted) expenses, it slightly changes the game.
Yes, many people won’t be aware of the difference, in which case you should make it clear. The income didn’t fall below expenses, it fell below our agreed income target (budget). The expenses didn’t creep above our income, it crept about out agreed expenses target (budget).
That way, the right question gets asked… Did we set the budget to low or too high? How will we set the target next year? What did we agree on, and what should we agree on going forward?