With this simple plan, you’ll have better ministry budgets in four months.
“Put your money where your mouth is.” You’ve probably heard that saying before. A more accurate saying is “Put your money where your heart is.” After all, the way we spend money reveals what we value. In children’s ministry, a well-thought-out budget makes it much easier to stay on track with what you value.
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A good budget is shaped by specific goals. Your goals become the lens that everything you think about or decide upon is focused through. A good budget-development process takes approximately four months.
The key word in developing a children’s ministry budget is “goals.” To run an effective children’s ministry, you must have from one to three annual goals. Your budget works toward each goal you set.
If your church sets annual goals, the children’s ministry department should develop goals that support your church’s goals. If your church doesn’t set annual goals, begin a new trend.
Have your children’s ministry committee brainstorm goals for the coming year. Take notes and discount no ideas. After your meeting, send meeting minutes to all your committee members. Have the committee members pray and wait on the Lord during this decision-making process. Meet again to determine three goals. Your goals may be as straightforward as expanding your ministry by 50 children over the next 12 months.
Once you’ve set your goals, make a plan to achieve those goals. The plan should be concrete and measurable as you determine ways to reach each goal. If one goal is to increase attendance, should you have Bring a Friend Sunday every month, or do you want to have a big, extravagant event to attract newcomers from your neighborhood? Your committee needs to be very specific in your plan to reach each goal.
After you’ve devised a specific plan of action, the fun begins. Every budget item now needs to work toward your goal. Disburse money to best meet your goals. With the goal of increased attendance, you may want to allot more money for specific outreach programs rather than craft supplies; or you may want to allot extra money for publicity for Bring a Friend Sunday. You must be able to justify how budget items work toward your goals.
Submit your budget to the church’s finance committee or governing board for approval. Include all documentation on how you arrived at your numbers. If this is a new process for your church, take time to explain your methods. This will make your request for approval much more viable. When the number crunchers understand that your department has put a great deal of thought, prayer, and hard work into this effort, they’ll appreciate your request much more than if they think it was arrived at frivolously.
The board will either accept your budget as is or ask you to fine-tune it. If there’s a need to fine-tune, get as much information as possible from the finance board. It’s much easier to come to an agreement on money matters if you know specifically what the board needs you to modify.
This method of budgeting is time-consuming, but it’s very fruitful. You must always wait on the Lord; he will be your guide in this process. He is faithful, and as your committee listens to God’s direction, your ministry will be blessed more than you could ever imagine.
Deborah Evers is a children’s minister in San Lorenzo, California.