Missional accounting

January 1, 0001

Every dollar spent by a church or other organization typically pays for some form of time spent in support of a program.I suggest a form of “missional accounting” which divides up the total hours expended by a church (or influenced by it).

We identify the hours - in services, in programs, in small groups, in service opportunities, in mission trips, etc.

We can sum up the total amount spent on these hours based on the amounts spent on things like salaries, rents, etc.

We can then divide these hours into those that provide for church members and regular attenders (can we call these “pastoral”, “discipling”, and “community” or “fellowship” based on the precise nature of them), and the hours spent on people outside the church (which could be further divided between existing believers, non-believers, and unevangelized).

Obviously, some “hours” are shared by many people - for example, the “hour” (or two) of a Sunday morning service, perhaps shared by several hundred or even several thousand.

Not all of these people are believers.

One way to deal with this in terms of accounting is to sum the hours from the perspective of the people who share them, not from the actual number of hours spent: thus, a 2-hour Sunday morning service shared by 1,000 people becomes 2,000 missional hours.

Then, these hours can be estimated as the % of ‘pastoral’ hours (e.g.

for believers) and the % of ‘outreach’ hours (e.g.

non-believers in the service).

Having done this sort of rough accounting, one might look at the two categories - the share of church hours spent on believers, and the share spent on non-believers.

We might then ask ourselves: are the percentages wildly out of balance? Is there a way to ‘shift’ the balance? This sort of missional accounting can then be used as a baseline for experiments of the kind we discussed yesterday.

What sorts of experiments will enable us to spend less time on our selves, and more time on others? Might we have to shift budgets? time allocations? programs? If all of our time is spent on the believers inside our church, we will never have an impact on the outside world.

But we often don’t realize just how much time we spend on ourselves until we take the time to add it up.

“Statistics are signposts from God”–what are these numbers telling us?