Writings of Branko's Blog

All around Central Europe

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How to spiritually determine your operational budget? [blog]

Every organization depending on donors and supporters at least once a year has to pose this question. Is it merely a proportion between the income and the expense side, or there is a place for faith? Are we having the crisis of belief every year about budget time?


Are we having a good business model that covers all of our ministry needs, year after year? If your answer is positive, I would like to learn more about this model, because I have experienced that the faith-based organizations ought to implement faith in their business model, and subsequently in their operational budget. So, in a way, a budget may have three sections titled:

–        What we plan to do through our revenue and income;

–        What we plan to do through promises of others; and

–        What we must depend on God to do.

That is not easy. Blackaby says in Experiencing God: “We need to try not to dream our dreams for God. We have to be absolutely sure God is leading us to do things we put in the budget… and the difference between what we could reasonably expect to receive and the total was what we ask God to provide…”

I define a budget crisis of belief a moment when we come to a point where the expenses are higher than the income and where we have no answer, no promise, no plan or idea what to do. Then we usually make space for God.

In the coming budget season, let us pray that God helps us to see and stand for what we must depend on Him to do among us.

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Giving is a Complex Matter [blog]



Giving is a complex matter. It is tied up with our background, upbringing, attitude, financial standing, need, charity interests and level of social involvement. It is also tied up with the expectations placed upon us as well as a host of personal motivations, from feelings of guilt to ambitions of increasing our status. Sometimes giving is simply the fashionable thing to do, but it is also may be related to a personal challenge, the emotions we happen to be experiencing or where we are at the moment along life’s path. Giving surrounds us.

On the other side of the coin is the process of asking people to give. To ensure that our asking yields more fruit, methods and tools have been developed using software based on diverse platforms to analyze donor bases to determine giving habits and giving capacities. There are also specialized companies that will help prepare your reports, strategies, direct-mail campaigns and legacy-giving plans. Enterprises selling their know-how train  fund developers and advancement officers as well as assisting them in achieving their annual goals. Nonprofit organizations are increasingly involved in accountability processes, joining associations promoting financial responsibility to build credibility with the public. The process of asking for donations occurs around us and to us every day.

The Bible teaches us about the joy of giving. Exodus 35:5 reveals that God commanded the Israelites to give as God had blessed them; in other words, those who had more should give more. And their contributions could comprise different things – gold, silver, acacia wood, garments, etc. Every person should give as he or she is able and according to the blessings bestowed by the Lord God . In that community,  in which visits to the temple were frequent, people were reminded repeatedly of what God did for them. And in the New Testament, Jesus taught a great deal about giving – helping  others, honoring God and honoring the state, sharing with the local congregation. So many verses address these issues. And in Acts and the Epistles, we have reports of giving for missions and in times of special need.

What would be the basic tenets of today’s fund development?

  1. It is biblical to give, because everything belongs to the Lord.
  2. It is biblical to give, because we have been commanded to do so.
  3. It is biblical to give, because in that way we are growing in faith.
  4. It is biblical to give, because sharing with others is biblical, also.
  5. Local churches should be teaching on the topic of biblical stewardship regularly and from the beginning.
  6. Emphasizing mission and mission work (reaching out from a local community to another continent) helps believers learn to give. Giving by faith should be encouraged because we must learn to trust God to provide life’s necessities. Supporting missions in the local church and via mission organizations is biblical, and we should practice this regularly.
  7. Fund developers should get involved in local churches as teachers of biblically based lessons about God’s generosity and His plan for this world.

Just imagine: If all Christians would give as they are able, they would experience so much joy that they would be eager to undertake this exercise of faith more often.  As the old saying goes, if everyone comes to church with an attitude to serve others, everyone will go home having been served. The same principle could be used in giving: If all Christians would give as they are able, all church and missions programs would be funded, all missionary support raised and all worthwhile projects financed – and this would be true on an ongoing basis. It would be a simply wonderful message to the entire world about what Christians are doing for ”one another.”

One of the important concepts to understand in this model is that the fundraiser is not only a collector of money for projects but also a biblical teacher about stewardship and God’s economy. Givers are not just donors; they are brothers and sisters in Christ to whom God has extended the privilege of experiencing joy and worshipping Him through giving. In this regard, a fundraiser serves much like one of the pastoral staff in a local church, helping the members “do giving” the best possible way.

Do you give? Regularly? With joyful heart?

Photo credit: Charities Aid Foundation

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Your heart and your money [blog]

Someone recently shared that the believers in the US give less than 2% of their possessions to the mission work. I do not think that anyone has done such a survey in Europe, but I would expect that the percentage would be much smaller. Somehow teaching on the issues of giving in general, and then giving for the work of God in particular, is rather absent in local churches. There is a lot of talk, however, about a humanitarian aid, helping the homeless and giving to those in need during Christmas season, and people generally give. Interestingly, Europeans are one of the first to give for ‘humanitarian’ causes and to give large sums of funds. But, somehow, church work and missionaries should not expect the same kind of generosity.

The debate always starts with a rhetorical question – Should we tithe in a church? And the response is: No, this is an Old Testament practice; we should give generously and sacrificial. But, in practice, we do not do any of the two, and in addition we do not give 10%, but less. In Luke 11:41-42, Mark 8:36 we learn about Jesus’ attitude toward this issue. Craig Blomberg says in Heart, Soul and Money that principle in these verses speaks of the tithe belonging to the Law, and it is not required in the times of gospel. However, Jesus calls disciples to give generously and sacrificial! Each believer today ought to evaluate and measure what this means in his/hers life.

One factor that makes it even more difficult is that churches do not teach nor preach about the mission. Without the urgency to proclaim the gospel to the end of the earth, there is no prayer and soul-searching, and no support – giving included. I believe that any teaching on stewardship should also consider this biblical mandate that is an overall theme.

A teaching program that would explain to the local believers the importance of mission in God’s plan, and His mandate to humans to do it, from both OT and NT, coupled with a proper teaching on stewardship, would help people realize their role in the overall economy of God. We do not teach enough on mission, we do not teach enough on stewardship, it is not a surprise that giving for God’s work is behind the ‘humanitarian’ causes.

We ought to find a right balance between giving for the ‘aid’ purposes, which is nice and noble and needed, and giving for the ‘God’ purposes, which is nice and noble and very needed – but also biblically mandated to all of us, and each one of us.

What do you think on this topic of heart and money?

Photo credit: Andy Newman

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E-book for free [blog]

Do you have an e-book reader already?

Marli Speaker’s book When Hope Wins is available for a free download in exchange for your E-mail address at  http://www.twr.org/jesusdaily/. It’s a book telling how Jesus has helped people thrive despite abuse, drug addiction, religious persecution and poverty.

Marli Speaker is the founder of TWR ministry Project Hannah and its global promoter.