The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

Commander Bill Gunter —  November 30, 2010

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap- happiest season of all

“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” used to be just another Christmas song that you would begin hearing this time of year as the holiday rush heats up and we head into December. In the last few years, a company has also started to use it to mark the beginning of back to school sales in commercials featuring parents with big smiles on their faces and dancing through the aisles.

So, would it surprise you to hear that I think the the most wonderful time of the year for churches is budget time? I have to admit that it’s a time that I really dread.  Budget time is when we see ministries battling for their piece of the proverbial pie. I remember sitting around the table at budget planning meetings when my sole responsibility was our church’s Awana program. We would go around that table, and everyone would present their “dream” budget – what they really wanted for the coming year.  When the dream budgets of the individual programs exceeded the total budget, a new process would start.  We would go around the table once again – this time trying to figure out where we could decrease some of our proposed budgets for individual programs.

Of course, many times the place we would start was with Awana! Ok, I’m a team player, and I would propose some cuts to my budget.  I’d make the cut and I’d hear, that’s the spirit, let’s keep that going. However, by the time we’d get to “Worship” or certain other ministries, I’d hear,

“Sorry we can’t cut any, it’s already tight as it is.”

On the inside, my thought was, “Well, thanks for working with everyone!”

Ministries chose not to work together.  Instead, they battled for their piece of the budget, and you had to “play the game” to get your programs funded by the church. And, I was not immune.  I did get caught up in the budget game and battle for funds. Ultimately though, when the budget was set, I didn’t really care what the budget was.   Like many who volunteer in children’s ministry, I would self-fund various things that the budget wouldn’t cover.  You see, just like I don’t want any child to miss out on the chance to attend Awana or any other activity because of lack of funds, I also don’t want the ministry as a whole to suffer because of a lack of funds.  Those of you who have been involved in churches and whole budget process understand that there are pros and cons to this approach, but that is another topic for another day.  I mention it only because I think it is a testament to the men and women who care more about reaching God’s kids for the Kingdom than they do there their own pocketbooks.  I also want to personally thank each of you for the sacrifice of time and funds that you make in support of your ministry. While others may not see, it is having an eternal impact for the kingdom.

Here’s an idea though. While budget time is not usually viewed as the most wonderful time of the year, it should be!  It is a chance to project and envision what God is going to do in the upcoming year and how He will allow us to reach children for Him. Budget time is your chance to share your vision and, no matter what your budget is, God will work it out.  So, far from the “game playing” that often accompanies budgeting, use the time this year to cast your vision and to rely on God to provide what you need to reach His kids.

Commander Bill Gunter

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Bill is the Associate Pastor of Children & Youth at Hanover Fellowship in Hanover, Pennsylvania where his responsibilities include caring for children and youth from birth through high school. Along with his responsibilities in the local church, Bill is very involved in the Awana ministry, serving on the ministry teams of local Awana missionaries, providing trainings, leading workshops and helping run regional events.