THE LIVING CHURCH • May 20, 2012
What is the Messageof the Mission?
By Thomas Ferguson
here are two oft-repeated statements in a budgeting process. One is thatbudgets are “outlines” rather than strict spending plans: whether in a parish,or a diocese, or a seminary, we adopt budgets that pledge to spend money thatwe do not yet have. We trust that pledges, or tuition, or assessments will comein as planned. Another is that budgets reveal deeper understandings of anorganization’s outlook — just Google “budget as a moral document” to seenumerous statements from politicians and other interest groups.
Budgets are often understood as extensions of ideological understandings of the natureand role of an institution. In the church, they evidence the ways in which we shape, incar-nate, and give emphasis to how we are called to carry out God’s mission entrusted to us.There’s biblical warrant for this kind of thinking; Jesus once told his disciples that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The appropriate use of wealth in establish-ing the kingdom of God is one which Jesus speaks frequently about in the gospels. Budgetsare somewhat dry reading, especially for those of us who have not taken a mathematics classsince high school, so we can forget that there is at heart a missiological imperative in anybudget: where we put our treasure determines what we do and how we do it.In what followsI use “budget of the Episcopal Church” as shorthand for a wide range of churchwide ministries coordinated in various ways by the Presiding Bishop, ExecutiveCouncil, and General Convention. This includes everything from the salary of the bishop of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe to the work of all the standing committees
The Missiologyof the ProposedTriennial Budget