When I first started full-time Children’s Ministry back in 2003 I had no clue how to put together a budget. I knew I needed to but no one ever showed me how. For a while I thought I was as likely to figure out budgeting as the Trix Rabbit was to having those kids give him a bowl of Trix.
But through the help of some good friends (and the school of hard knocks) I’ve gotten better with budgets. Here are 6 tips about budgeting I wish I had known when I first started out:
1. Have a plan fueled by purpose
People need to know the what behind the why. Most people (even church elder committees) are pretty understanding when you tell them why you need more money. Excel can them how you’ll use it, but you’ve got to share from your heart why it’s essential in fulfilling your church’s mission.
2. Keep track of spending
Nothing frustrates your church finance person like overspending. Keep track of what you’ve been given so you can manage what you’ve been given well. The more responsible you are with what you have the more likely you are to be given more (Matthew 25:14-30).
3. Know what’s off limits
At one church I worked at I used to buy my staff lunch during our weekly meeting until I got an angry call from our CFO who said we don’t do that here. While it was frustrating to get in trouble for something no one communicated to me was off-limits, it was a great opportunity for me to find out what else was off-limits so I didn’t make the same mistake twice.
4. Go deep over wide
Tight budgets mean we need to tighten up on spending. If you feel like you don’t have enough money to do everything it might be time to cut down on everything you do. Better to make a few things awesome then make everything only OK.
5. Invest in people, not just programs
People are who you’re programs are for. Not just the kids and parents who attend, but the leaders who lead them. Use your budget to pay for books and conferences that will equip your team. Helping your leaders be better makes the programs they lead better.
6. Remember God can do a lot with a little
Jesus can take the 5 loaves and 2 fish of our budget and do something bigger than we ever imagined (Matthew 14:13-21). He’s not looking for budgets (because He doesn’t need one). He’s looking for people who will give Him what they have so He can multiply it.