Mission-based Budget Brings Hope

by GREG CLARK, Integrated Communications

finance meetingsThey came with charts, numbers, and reports. They left with hope, fervor, and mission.

The World Church Finance Board met May 7–8 and solidly—no, urgently and passionately—embraced President Steve Veazey’s message that “The Mission Matters Most!” Growing contribution figures spurred optimism about a mission-focused budget that is rising, even while much of the world remains in deep recession.

Little wonder then that hope dominated the meeting at the Temple in Independence, Missouri. That hope, President Veazey stressed, stemmed from more than growing numbers.

“One thing I hope you’re hearing…is that throughout the process we sensed the guidance, stirring, pushing, and prompting of the Spirit, which was very hopeful.”

It all translated into a US$27.36 million budget that will focus on the five initiatives outlined in President Veazey’s April address. The budget for the 2012 fiscal year is a small increase, reversing a long downward trend.

However, it’s not as big a change from the 2011 budget of US$23.45 million as it might seem. That’s because for the first time, the budget will include Oblation, World Hunger, and specialproject funds, including disciple and congregational leaders formation.

Fiscal 2012 Mission
Initiative Tithing Goals

Invite People to Christ
$2.61 million

Abolish Poverty, End Suffering
$1.965 million

Pursue Peace on Earth
$1.065 million

Develop Disciples to Serve
$5.4 million

Experience Congregations in Mission
$2.96 million

The new budget clearly translates into Spirit-led hope. It springs from the growing numbers. It springs from opportunities to express generosity. And it springs from the mission initiative format that gives a direct voice to contributors.

That format represents a marked shift in how the church approaches budgeting and how members show generosity. Instead of focusing on what the church needs, the new budget lets people give based on their own sense of mission.

In this format, all Community of Christ ministries, programs, services (direct and indirect), staff, and budgets will support the five mission initiatives. All gifts to World Mission Tithes also will go to the initiatives.

“It shifts from an institutional focus to a donor focus,” said Terry Snapp, a pastor and professional fund-raiser. “The focus begins to move…to what donors hunger for through their generosity…My acts no longer are isolated from the mission; they’re connected.”

President Veazey put it this way: “It’s a shift to what brings meaning to the donor’s life.”

That shift will build on momentum that started in the 2011 fiscal year, which ended June 30. Through March, World Ministries Tithes, which have the biggest impact on the church’s missional capabilities, were about US$600,000 over budget. For the new fiscal year, church leaders expect even better results. They’re projecting US$14 million in tithes.

And they’re taking steps that give them hope—there’s that word again—for even better mission support in the future. All this change dramatically affected the outlook of the board, including Jim Slauter, president of the Council of Twelve Apostles.

Last year he vented frustration by passionately declaring, “Enough is enough!” This year his message was simple and thankful: “God is good.”