In church administration and stewardship, one of the current buzz words is “narrative budget”. It is a counter argument to the traditional accounting budget with line items and balance sheets. It is a great tool to make the numbers on the accounting page gain life and legs as you tell the story of ministry.
The Christian Church’s Center for Faith and Giving has some great resources for creating a narrative budget, check them out (link).
Somethings to remember when creating a ministry narrative budget:
- Not just some story, YOUR story – Don’t forget that this isn’t another story, it is your story. It is an important story. It is the story God has called your community to tell. Narrative budgets can be just as dry and boring as a ledger if you don’t speak out of a place of authenticity and passion. This is a chance to share, through the administrative tasks of the church, the incredible work that God is doing!
- Bite size is best – We live in a world of “140 characters or less” so if you narrative document is more than a page or two, the likelihood that it is going to be read and digested is slim. Even if you have a BIG story to tell, tell it in bite size pieces. If you want your story told and retold, tweeted and shared, then it needs to be told in ways that are easy to remember and easy to tell.
- Not another gimmick – Narrative budgets are not a gimmick to communicate funding needs, they are a tool to articulate the authentic needs and use of resources in a community. If you use it as a gimmick, it won’t as meaningful. If you incorporate this tool into your ministry as telling the stories of transformation, then it will change lives.
- Visual as well as linguistic – One of the ways that narrative budgets can really come to life is with the use of photos and images, charts and graphs. Moving away from numbers on a page to communicating the living ministry should include images of how the resource were used and will be used.
- Not a one time exercise – Narrative budgets are a living document that should be updated and shared regularly throughout the church year. It is not something to pull out and dust off at budget or stewardship season, to work well it should be an integrated way of communicating the ways that the church is being a steward of the resources it has been entrusted.
We would love to see some of the ways that you have used this tool. Share in the comments below!
This concludes our series on budget basics. Be sure to check out the previous segments: