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When the Board of Trustees of the Christian Reformed Church met last week, the minutes of its finance committee noted a new budget process for fiscal year 2015 (which begins next July).

All the ministry agencies, institutions, and specialized ministries will be asked to create their initial budgets based on the assumption that their ministry share income will be 90 percent of what was received in fiscal 2013. Ministry shares are the monies collected by churches on a per-member basis to support the denomination’s shared ministries.

The remaining 10 percent will go into a “Strategic Response Fund,” which will be allocated during the budget process. The finance committee is encouraging the agencies to pursue more funding outside what it gets from ministry shares.

“As we go through our evaluation process, how that other 10 percent will be used is more in flux,” said director of finance and administration John Bolt. “Otherwise it is difficult to make sure our work aligns with strategic initiatives.”

Currently ministry share gifts bring in about $25 million annually, which Bolt noted is $14 million less than the amount requested from churches. “We’re trying to get the agencies’ advancement teams to help capture more of that.” Approximately $2.5 million would go into the Strategic Response Fund.

Trustee Rev. William Veenstra commented that it seemed like a change in philosophy in budgeting.

Trustee Kathy Vandergrift said she appreciated the concern for more strategic budgeting. “I think we do need to discuss this,” she said, but also noted that this is a big change in approach to budgeting.

“We’re not saying [to the agencies] to cut their budget,” Bolt said. “We’re asking them to put together budgets as if you have 10 percent less ministry shares, and then together we make recommendations of where that 10 percent will go.”

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