It is hard to believe that we have already started the process to shape next year’s budget for Heritage Church. We’ll be voting in our Annual Meeting in June for the approval of the budget as is our constitutional responsibility as members. So, many who have not been close to annual budget planning may be wondering why we need almost six months of lead time to accomplish this?
Let me help bring some transparency to our timetable. We can do so by backtracking from our immovable date for passing our budget in June. Before this, the Board has the responsibility to shape and affirm a proposed budget weeks in advance, so it can be shared with our Heritage members. This means that the Board has to have all of the budget numbers—with the tough choices on what is included or not—finalized in May. The most important input into this process is the output of our annual Stewardship Campaign, because the contributions of our members is the overwhelming source of our annual funding. How do we set a goal for the Stewardship Campaign that happens in March through April? We gather requests for budget funding in January and February to set this goal. So, you can see even though we are just over half way through the current church year, we already have to start thinking about our plans for next year.
Admittedly, supporting the budget planning process is not the most uplifting set of duties that we as Board members do, but it is such a critical role for the current and future health of Heritage. We have the responsibility to represent the members and understand the priorities of where people want to invest. This can sometimes lead to controversy. The need for increased funding inevitably leads us to ask for more donations from our families who may already be stretching across financial needs in an uncertain world. Eventually, it means making painfully tough choices on what we can afford or not after we understand our expected pledge income.
That is why I do love to revel in this current stage of the annual budget process when we can build our wish list for the church. We can liberate ourselves from the realities of limited funding and focus on what we want Heritage to become. It is a great strategy exercise to embrace the dream state – think about what you would do if you could. These are exciting conversations with our committees and teams to learn about their visions to create an even better Heritage. This is when we hear passionate pleas from members to persuade others to support their cause. This is Heritage at our best and reflects the love that we all have to help make our community stronger and better.
Our wish list for Heritage that we create as a community helps shape our future vision for the church. The reality is that not all of our dreams will be funded in a single budget year. We will eventually hit the reality of funding. But for this time of the season, I hope you all share your voice with the community through our committees or Town Hall forums on what your priorities are. I know for our Board, this input is highest on our wish list.