At the ECC Lafayette congregational meeting on Sunday May 21, the church leadership presented, and the attendees approved, the annual budget for Fiscal Year 2023/2024. Our fiscal year starts July 1, 2023 and runs through June 30, 2024. For the first time, we presented the operating budget using the Narrative Budget format. The idea of this format was first introduced at ECC Lafayette’s Annual Congregational meeting in January 2023.
I have had in mind for some time that we should modify our annual budget presentation, and I was first introduced to the concept of a Narrative Budget through the Evangelical Covenant Church Denomination while attending the Pastors' Midwinter Conference in both 2022 and 2023. The Covenant Denomination is recommending that Covenant Churches begin using this format for how they think about and present operating plans. Similarly, our ECC Council has also been thinking about how we present the vision of the mission and ministry of the church through our financial operating plan, so throughout 2022 we began brainstorming how we might transition toward a Narrative Budget.
A Narrative Budget tells the story of how ECC practices good stewardship of the gifts entrusted to it. It provides a vision of where we hope to be in the coming budget cycle. It gives a vision of ministry rather than just a spreadsheet of line items, account numbers, and dollar amounts. It reflects how the congregation spends its time, talent, and treasure rather than how it accounts for the bills. We still have a line-item budget that correlates to the chart of accounts in our accounting system. We still use the same budgeting tool to build the operating budget. We have not changed the process but rather the presentation.
The process began with staff and Council evaluating line-item expenses and allocating those expenses across the five Narrative Budget Categories. Former Council Member Todd Cogswell helped develop a narrative budget tool that pivots our line item expenses into the five narrative budget categories below. There are many words that describe the mission and ministry of a church. After several robust discussions by the staff and Council, we arrived at the following categories: Global Impact, Local Impact, Spiritual Formation, Worship, and Congregational Care.
The descriptions of these categories are below. These Narrative Budget Categories reflect our operating budget. Special funds receipts and disbursements are excluded from the operating budget and the Narrative Budget description. Each category includes payroll and payroll driven costs allocated by percentage per employee. Each category also includes allocated amounts of property expense and administrative overhead.
We send and support missionaries who bear witness to the good news of the kingdom of God around the world, in word and deed.
Global Impact includes missions funding for the Evangelical Covenant Church and Central Conference including Covenant missionaries as well as missionaries and mission organizations supported by ECC. It includes costs associated with the administration and leadership of this process through the Missions Commission allocated to global and local missions.
We support local ministries and missionaries, and we become the hands and feet of Jesus in our community, in practical ways.
Local Impact includes expenses associated with ECC’s ministries of Compassion, Mercy, and Justice in the Lafayette area including costs associated with the administration and leadership of local outreach to Miller Elementary School and the Bauer Community center, as well as our missions budget for local missionaries and ministries.
We disciple people of all ages, providing resources and relationships for the spiritual transformation of all, that the image of Christ may be renewed within them.
Spiritual Formation includes expenses associated with the spiritual journey from curiosity to Christoformity. It is the spiritual growth and transformation of members, attendees, and participants at ECC of all ministries including Sunday Morning activities, LifeGroups, Adult Christian Formation, Young Adult and Student ministries, Children’s Ministries, and Men’s and Women’s Ministries. It includes costs associated with the administration and leadership of these ministries allocated to spiritual formation ministries.
We come together on Sundays and special occasions as one body to give glory to God, to celebrate God's goodness, to respond to God's word, and to give thanks.
Worship includes expenses associated with Sunday morning worship in the sanctuary including preaching, prayer, the sacraments, worship music, worship technology, logistics, and communication. It includes costs associated with the administration and leadership of worship.
We care for one another in times of need through presence, listening, and prayer.
Congregational/Pastoral Care includes expenses associated with the Christian care and nurture of the congregation and others associated with ECC. It includes expenses associated with the administration and leadership of the Congregational Care Team. It also includes costs associated with pastoral and ministry director care and counseling, including weddings, funerals, and other staff care.
ECC Lafayette’s Narrative Budget is best presented in a pie chart showing the percentages allocated to each category.
We are excited to begin to use this new way of presenting, discussing, and evaluating our operating plan. As always, if you have any questions, I am happy to talk about this change.