The Steal Trap

A church I know has a huge missions budget. They have, they say, a strong commitment to missions. But a closer look shows allocations for everything from Sunday school supplies to choir trips—anything the leaders think might be difficult to get approved—are labeled "missions." Now they're trapped. Any reasonable adjustment will look like they've cut funding to missions.

As you start next year's budget process, avoid these snares when dividing up the money.

1. The line-item trap. Someone who places a high priority on evangelism notices the line item for outreach is only half that for music. He concludes, with some disappointment and anger, that the church thinks more of music than saving souls. The squabble that ensues sounds like kids arguing over which one got the bigger slice of pie.

A couple of families once met with me about the lack of funds for youth ministry. I quickly agreed with them.

After some research I discovered the line item showed only 40 percent of the funding. ...

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