Are you Lying to Yourself?

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The surprising thing isn’t that we’re irrational about how we spend our time and money. It’s how much effort we put into lying about it. That may sound like a strong term, but if your kids told you a story that was untrue, would you call it lying?  So, if we tell ourself an untruth, are we not lying to ourselves?  Makes sense to me.

One of the best examples of this premise is when I was attending a Mega Metro XP conference with 25-30 of the largest Southern Baptist Church XP’s in attendance. The members of this group have the following criteria in order to join:

  • Serve in a Southern Baptist Church
  • Be full-time
  • Serve in the role of Executive Pastor* with primary oversight of staff, ministry, and budget
  • Report directly to the Senior Pastor
  • Church attendance averages 3,000+ in worship
  • Have $5 million+ in charitable giving

The discussion was on a roll discussing budgets, utilization of funds, allocation of funds to and the like.  The conversation quickly moved to pet projects, “game playing” by staff to get more allocation and the like. One of the XP’s told the group that they were trying to get a better grasp on the REAL use of funds, and not just what the the General Ledger line item said it was.

This led to them addressing a $100,000 + line item for the “Singing Christmas Tree.” This event was listed in their budget as OUTREACH.  The astute XP asked his team a couple very piercing questions:

  1. How many people have come to a faith decision that attended a Singing Christmas Tree?
  2. How many people attend the event that are not already attending the church?

Surprisingly (or not), the answer to both were “little to none.” Ouch…that will make you think long and hard.

The XP went on to say that he challenged his people to call it what it is.  Given the questions and responses, this event was NOT really an outreach event.  It was entertainment for the members. With that said, that does not immediately disqualify it from the budget, but let’s call it what it is…“We like choral Christmas music and we are willing to fund it.”  That is a little long for a typical journal entry, but the point is well taken.

To call such an event Outreach was lying to themselves. It was not Outreach. But calling it Outreach makes you feel good about the budget, allocation of resources, or obtaining notoriety for having a larger Outreach budget than the church down the way.

As you look at your budget, are things properly labeled and allocated?  It may shock you. We need to face the truth and stop lying to ourselves.


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