Jesus said “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). Stated another way, what we do with our time and money is an expression of our deepest loyalties. Our day planners and check books unmask us; they reveal our hearts to ourselves and to others. Similarly, our church calendar and our annual budget speak the truth about us as a body. They are a more reliable indicator of our spiritual vitality than our words. Without a doubt, making and meeting budgets is a spiritual exercise.
At COS, the budget process begins in the spring and involves the church staff, Council, committee chairs and those who lead specific ministries. This process is not only about organizing requests and tabulating numbers. Rather, it is mainly about evaluating our priorities every year, asking ourselves yet again whether or not we are cheerfully investing our lives in the lives of those to whom we are called to minister.
From its beginning, COS has wanted its budget to reflect its commitment to meeting needs in our community and beyond. Resettling refugees, tutoring non-English speakers, financing mission work, feeding the hungry, teaching children: all these activities are possible because faithful members give.
Once the budget is finalized by Council in the fall, the members vote on it by a voice vote, but more importantly, by making a monetary pledge for the following year. The Finance Committee generally gives some guidance regarding how much money needs to be pledged and how much each household needs to give weekly in order for the church to be confident that financial commitments will be met. Further, through bulletin announcements and various mailings throughout the year, the church treasurer reminds us how well we are following through on our promises.
In truth, budgets, and all the work they imply, make ministry possible. Lest we forget this link, each week, in the middle of the morning worship service, we get out of our seats and bring ourselves to the front of the sanctuary. We place a monetary gift in a basket, a gift which is meant to represent the larger gift of our whole selves, including our day planners and our check books. As we return to our seats we sing:
We give you but your own in any gifts we bring;
all that we have is yours alone, a trust from you, our King.
May we your bounties thus as stewards true receive,
And gladly, Lord, as you bless us, to you our first fruits give.