Alan Knox has a great post on one of my favorite church subjects: money. His post, Church Life # 9 - Money, examines the very different way that the gathering of the church where he fellowships deals with money.
We’ve found that by freeing people’s money from the constraints of an organizational budget, we are actually able to provide for more immediate needs as well as for larger and more long-term needs.
I completely agree. Budgets lead to constraints. In business we have budgets to make sure we don't overspend and that we make a profit. In the church, the budget by and large dictates how we can minister to each other and to the community. Budgeting and spending lead so often to contention and division and too often become the focus of the church. We give to meet the budget, not to minister to others.
What was really interesting is that we went to our first business meeting tonight at Carriage Hill Bible Chapel. There was zero contentiousness about spending and budget because we don't really have one. We take up offerings for different stuff and almost all of the giving is earmarked. If you don't feel led to support a particular evangelist or ministry, don't give to him/it. If you feel strongly about a different one, give to that one. About the only general funding we have maintains our building (utilities, insurance, etc.) It was the most pleasant business meeting we have ever been to and we finished with no one harboring ill will toward anyone else. The less money we spend on the operations of the local church means the less need for budgets and more freedom to minister.