How to Create a Missional Budget for your Church

Budgets should reflect the true central beliefs of our church. Only what we fund, can we say we really value. A breathing ministry budget focuses on the mission of the church through its ministries. It may also be called a missional, or narrative budget.

Our most important question in developing a missional budget should be: “What is God doing in our church, its community, city, county, state, country, yea the world through its conferences, unions, divisions that God would like us to join in?”

The number one reason people give is belief in God and the Mission!

Vision and the Budget(1)

A God-breathed Vision can be used as a powerful force to unify and mobilize the congregation and disarm the power of money in the lives of its people.

The budget is the tool to see that resources are aligned with the Vision.

What is a missional (ministry/narrative) budget?(2)

Why use it? Some have called this type of budget a “narrative” or missional budget. It is a representation of the line item budget in simple, easy-to-read descriptive terms.

It transforms a line item of money and expenses into an exciting picture of ministries and missions of the congregation, conference, union and or division. Research studies indicate church organizations often fail to communicate the value of the ministries they provide and the changes occurring in personal lives through ministries.

Contributors, therefore, have a limited understanding of the use of their gifts or relationship with those receiving ministry benefits. A line item budget is an effective tool for the committee on finance to manage financial resources. It is not an effective means for interpreting those ministries or their impact.

On the other hand, the narrative (missional) budget helps members of the congregation/organization understand what the church is doing in ministry, evangelism, discipleship training, and missions. It is a connecting link between the contributor and the church’s ministries. A well-composed narrative budget will educate and inspire everyone. And remember, a picture is worth 1,000 words! And an accompanying video when the report is given and posted on the organization’s web or social media page is worth volumes of words.

Where to start? (ibid.)

Form a small, special committee of representatives from the finance, budget development, and/or stewardship committees, the church staff, and a skilled writer and graphic artist/designer.

  1. Review the line item budget and group budget items by ministry areas, such as worship, education, youth, missions, etc. Five or six categories is sufficient. Avoid “Building Maintenance” and “Salaries” as categories.
  2. Review the congregation’s mission statement. Creatively describe the various ministries of the congregation as they fulfill the mission statement.
  3. Consider pro-rating all salaries*, building operational costs and overhead as well as program funds into specific ministry areas. If 45% of the pastor’s time is related to worship, pro-rate 45% of the salary and benefits** to worship.

*Musicians, Cleaning Crew. office staff, (larger churches will have more) etc…

**all entities: conferences, unions and divisions that offer salaries may be produce reports to show the benefits each entity provides to the other and the church overall under evangelism, varied ministries, and or missions (local and abroad).

  1. Write one or two descriptive paragraphs for each ministry area. Use examples that paint a picture of the ministry. Enable readers to understand the impact the ministries have in changing lives and changing times. Use stories to illustrate the ministries’ effectiveness during the previous year. Picture new or expanded ministry needs as the rationale for increased funding.
  2. Provide a positive, clear explanation of significant funding changes, whether they are proposed increases or decreases.
  3. Expand the reader’s horizons by identifying several relevant and exciting additional or future ministries that could be undertaken with funding beyond the budgetary financial projections.
  4. Consider a pie chart that uses ministry areas to depict the budget visually. Other pictures or videos of ministry in action are helpful.
  5. Prepare the narrative budget in an attractive, inviting, readable brochure format. Use colored paper, if nothing else. Or get creative, if the church has an App put it on the App; the young adults will access this sooner, and this will help engage them.
  6. Determine ways to use the narrative budget most effectively to communicate the exciting message of ministry throughout the congregation (conference, union, division).

Example of Missional/Narrative Budget (ibid.)

(exemplifies the ministries and the mission)


In looking at the mission and ministries of the church, we identify that we are called by God and commissioned by Christ to serve and work in five significant areas of ministerial importance: meaningful and spirit-filled worship; care and strengthening of our church family; missional service beyond church; spiritual development and Christian education for both the children of our church and the adults; and fellowship and collaborative work within our associations and our community as a whole. These areas of mission and ministry have always been important to the life of the _____________ Seventh-day Adventist Church and after ____ years, continue to be where our time, temples, talents, and His treasure (tithes & offering) take us.

Meaningful and spirit-filled worship

The gathering of the church family into times of prayer, praise, and worship is one of the first things that comes to mind when we think “church”. Over the course of the year, we have gathered for 107 Sabbath worship and special services (seasonal worship, and rejoicing). Each service has included spiritual expression and scripture teaching. Our traditional service includes the musical gifts of our remarkable musicians. Sermons have included a deep study of the biblical text as well as our favorite heroes of the word and our favorite Bible stories. We have gathered in both the fellowship hall and our historical sanctuary, recently restored to its glory. Together, we have done what is intended for worship – praised God for His many gifts, learned more about our Savior, and planned ways to carry out what God has called us to do. Over the course of the year, our attendance has grown. Our membership has grown through ____ baptisms and ____ transfers. We have added our monthly Care ministry and worship service, gathering children and adults with disabilities, their family members, and caregivers. This time has been a spirit-filled hour of worshipful joy.

In the coming year, we would like to increase the opportunities for Care ministries worship and activities as well as small group study. We also hope to share the wonderful story of _____________ Seventh-day Adventist Church and the church family we enjoy, bringing more people into our time of worship through outreach ministry and community involvement.

Cost for this area of ministry:                                                                                 $41,943

(This total includes a percentage of the pastor’s salary and benefits***, our musical staff, housekeeping, office supplies, maintenance supplies, facility costs, and utilities. ***conferences calculating-this amount will show the local church the investment from the conference level.)

The budget then includes similar examples for each area of the church’s missions and ministries. The last line of the narrative or missional budget reads: A detailed line-item budget is available in the church office should anyone wish to review it.

Budgets should reflect the true central beliefs of the church. Only what we fund, can we say we really value. A breathing ministry budget focuses on the mission of the church through its ministries.

By Michael A. Harpe, Stewardship Director, North American Division


  1. Horizons Stewardship, Developing Your Ministry Budget, Joe Park, 2018.
  2. Stewardship Task Team, NACCC Ministry Council, June 2015.
  3. Building a Narrative Budget
  4. Creating a Narrative Mission Budget