Navigating the Narrative Budget Workbook

I originally created the Narrative Budget Workbook to help me visualize the process of transferring the information from a line-item budget to a narrative budget. As I was working through this process for my own clarity and understanding, I realized it could be helpful if I would make it editable in certain ways to accommodate churches that wanted to organize their budget lines into categories (I like the term buckets) for the purpose of designing a narrative budget. The workbook will work for many churches, but some may find it hard to adapt their budgets to fit into the narrative budget workbook. My hope for those people is that the course and the sample will provide enough guidance for you to create something similar on your own.

You will need a copy of your local church’s line-item budget. It will be best if you have a copy of the budget for the upcoming year, as you will want to be able to interpret the budget to your members and donors before the year starts. If your budget for the upcoming year is not available to you yet, you can use the current year to complete the creation of your narrative budget and then you can update it later.

TERMINOLOGY (especially for those who don’t work with spreadsheets regularly):

  • The Narrative Budget Workbook was created in Excel, part of Microsoft Office 365. If you don’t have Microsoft Excel, the workbook can be opened in Google’s Sheets software (free for those with a Google account).
  • The workbook is a collection of spreadsheets, and those “sheets” are opened by clicking on numbered and titled tabs along the bottom of the workbook window.
  • Each sheet is made up of vertical columns and horizontal rows -- columns are identified by letters, rows by a number.
  • The individual boxes in each column or row are called cells. Cells can contain numbers, text, or a variety of formulas and directions. Cells are identified by their column letter and row number (Example: the pastor’s travel allowance can be found at cell B8).
  • I have grouped my lines into sections specific to the TECHNIQUE used to divide line items into their appropriate bucket(s). I will explain these techniques in Session 4 a little further on.