How Do I Budget Without a Pastor’s Vision?

In Uncategorized by tfwm

Vision drives Need. Need drives Technology. Technology drives budget.

Said another way, when you know what you are called to do (Vision; where vision = an idea that should be), then the need of what it takes to accomplish that vision is defined. Accomplishing it means that a certain level of technology and methodology is required (Need drives the Technology). That Technology will have prices associated with it. Those prices will then determine the overall cost (budget).

Really, it’s very simple: when you know what you need to do, there will be a way to do it and that way will cost a certain amount. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s called budgeting. When we flip this upside down and come with a certain amount of money in hand, we can never know if we’re over or under budget because the vision has not been cast.

So what happens where there is no expressed vision from a Senior Pastor or Executive Director? Now, this could mean that we as Creatives, Techies and Artists have an idea that we think will fit into the overall mission of the church, but our Pastor has not expressed an interest in it. Or, it could mean that a tech director is in a church where there is literally no vision for anything creative, artistic or technical. Those are two very different situations, and I’ll do my best to delineate them below.

For example, let’s say that you have the idea for adding new technology that you believe will enhance the experience and neither distract nor go counter to the values, mission and style of the church. In this situation, your job is to find ways to write up a NON-TECHNICAL scope (proposal). Here’s what it should do:

• Define the opportunity.
• Explain (briefly) the value and set the budget options (always more than one option!).
• Write this up in a proposal format that is easy to read and quick to identify value without ANY technical knowledge.
• Your job is to present ideas, concepts and, most importantly, solutions to the leadership so they see you adding value and not just spending money.

It has been my experience that you might spend 10% – 15% of your time coming up with proposals every month! Seriously! But here’s the reality: you need to expect that up to 80% of your proposals will either be rejected or pushed off to a later date.

When the Pastor supports the Techs
This is the best-case scenario and, honestly, I’m seeing a lot more of this in my consulting work and in my conversations with people at churches worldwide.

If your Pastor is defining vision, establishing expectations and setting goals, your job is to not only support with technology initiatives that meet those criteria but also to provide alternative solutions and models that leverage what you have (people, time and equipment) before adding new systems (people, time and equipment). The danger of more is that it never stops. Different is often better than more.

When the Pastor does not support the Techs
If you’re in this situation, I know you are frustrated. I get it. I completely understand!

Here’s your opportunity: Create the same proposals that I just defined above so that your Pastor will see your effort, passion and desire to provide solutions and over time, you can gain enough trust equity to talk with your Pastor about his Vision for what’s possible.

For some, this is a very, long process. Sometimes years are required for your faithfulness, servant attitude and heart for excellence to gain momentum.
For some of you, your passion for leveraging technology to effectively communicate the Gospel will always fall on deaf ears at your church. In these situations, you need to desperately seek God to understand if the passion He gave you for technical, creative and artistic excellence is motivation to find a new church home where your gifts can be exercised.

I DO NOT say that lightly. I think it’s a prayerful journey to understand if you are called to be a catalyst for change or if change will be your catalyst to move on.

Make the most of what you have
You are, ultimately, the one who needs to understand what’s possible, what’s impractical and what’s missing. That’s your vision coming into focus. And once you have that vision, sharing it passionately with your leadership can help them see the solutions (not the technology) that they desire.
Serve with humility. Take care of what you have. Plan, plan, plan for the future!