A congregation’s budget can reflect its priorities for mission. These resources are provided in response to frequently asked questions. If you have suggestions for additional resources, please email email@example.com.
Visit our generosity page for mission support, planned giving and stewardship resources.
Compensation is also part of a congregation’s budget, visit our Compensation Guidelines page for synod guidelines and resources to help decide on compensation.
From the ELCA Admin Matters
Why should congregations prepare narrative budgets?
As congregations we come together each week to celebrate the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through worship. A story that has touched the lives of countless people, speaks of profound generosity and challenges us to live out our own lives in response to God’s abundance. Each congregation has a story to tell about how it responds in thanksgiving to the call to serve God’s people. It is a story that includes worship, fellowship, evangelism, faith development, outreach and pastoral care.
Your congregation’s budget can also tell the story. A narrative budget integrates dollars, people and ministry to tell the story of a congregation’s mission and ministry. It is the representation of the line item budget in simple, easy-to-read descriptive terms, often with congregational pictures, quotes, illustrations, graphs and pie charts; however, it does not replace the financial statements. It is often developed by the treasurer and/or finance committee, presented in PowerPoint at the annual congregational meeting and distributed as a printed resource. A narrative budget gives a vision of ministry rather than just a spreadsheet of line items. It reflects how the congregation spends its time, talent and treasure in a different way, rather than just how we pay the bills.
Narrative budgets can assist with stewardship conversations. They help focus stewardship on the core message of celebrating God’s gifts to us, and every member’s opportunity and obligation to celebrate and offer in return their gifts to God.
Narrative Budget Resources
- “Narrative Budgeting, Christian Practice, Purpose and Narrative” by Judith Johnson
- “Giving thought to a Narrative Budget: A starting point for re-tooling the Church Budget” by the ELCA
- “How to Create a Narrative Budget” by the Living Lutheran, Grace Duddy
- “Building a Narrative Budget” by the Center for Faith and Giving
Narrative Budget Examples
- River of Hope, SW MN Synod 2016
- American Lutheran, SW MN Synod 2016
- Paynesville Lutheran, SW MN Synod 2015
If your congregation would like to share their Narrative Budget please email firstname.lastname@example.org.