I'm working hard on analyzing the PB's budget proposal. There will be more later, but here are some initial thoughts before I run off to an Arizona deputation meeting!
> It's irregular for the PB to come out with a budget proposal that competes with Executive Council's proposal. Nevertheless, I am not interested in irregularities, power struggles, or who is allowed to do what. As Scott Gunn points out, any church member in Alabama could come up with an alternative budget proposal. I've thought about doing it myself. What I'm interested in is the substance. Is there some substance here we can get behind?
> The PB's budget proposal does what I have been advocating, and calculates the budget according to Marks of Mission categories rather than the tired old categories of Canonical, Corporate, and Program (yawn). I am glad to see mission categories become a priority.
>The chart released with the budget proposal shows that, compared to Executive Council's budget, "mission" has been increased from 59% to 67% of the total budget. First question: Do these percentages reflect actual differences in the way we are spending our money, or do they reflect reclassifying things from one category to another? Initial review shows there's a little of both going on here.
> Nevertheless, there are some terrific new proposals here. Just one example: $2 million in grant funding for new church planting. Friends, we have been needing to do this for years.
> Apparently the PB's staff has been pounding the pavement, burning up the telephone wires in calls to dioceses to wring some additional "asking" commitments from them. Income has thus been increased by $2 million. Let's hope this is real money. But 815 is in a good position to count up actual commitments - a much better position than I am.
> This budget proposes to reduce staff costs at 815 by eliminating 12.75 positions (partly including unfilled positions) and limiting cost of living increases. Great news - and again, 815 is in a much better position to offer these cuts than I am, or than Executive Council is - they know what the staff does and what is necessary.
> This budget restores Christian Formation as a priority of the church - Hurray!
I will offer more thoughts when I have more time to analyze - but here's what I'm thinking right now. If we are a dysfunctional church, we will let this proposal get bogged down in questions of who is allowed to do what, miring ourselves in canonical analysis and power struggles. If we are a church that is focused on change and mission in the 21st century, we will analyze this proposal on its merits, as members of the same team, as co-workers in the fields of the Lord of the harvest. Let's work together on this.