It’s new budget season! Maybe not exactly when you’re reading this, but you’re at least thinking about your new budget season.
New budget years feel like new calendar years to me. Once I’ve gotten over the financial mistakes and mishaps of last year, I transition my attention towards the hope of a better planned and executed upcoming financial year.
Maybe you’re the person who has the final say on your kids or student ministry budget this year. Maybe somebody else or some committee has the final say on your ministry budget and you’re preparing your pitch to them. Or maybe you have no more than a whisper of influence on the final say of your budget.
Either way, you should use whatever influence you have to make sure your budget covers what your ministry needs this upcoming fiscal year. Here are a couple reminders as to why.
REMINDER #1: C.R.E.A.M
Although we serve a God that ultimately has every detail of our ministry under control, it sometimes feels like something else is controlling our ministry year. I’ll quote the great American poet Clifford Smith Jr here by saying it sometimes feels like “Cash Rules Everything Around Me” when it comes to our practical ministry endeavors.
Are we going to be able to restock the toys in the nursery room this year? Well, that depends on the budget.
What crafts can we provide to go along with the lesson each week for our preschoolers? Well, that depends on the budget.
How many kids are we going to be able to take to camp this summer? Well, that depends on the budget.
How much money do we have to reimburse middle/high school small group leaders when they plan an outing with their students? Well, that depends on the budget.
How many staff and volunteers can attend training events? Well, that depends on the budget.
How many care packages can we send to families in crisis this year? Well, that depends on the budget.
Insert whatever big or small line item that’s most relevant to your ministry here. Yes, we will pray and fundraise to add to the pot, but what we have as the base of the budget affects many of the decisions we’re able to make about how we minister to kids and students and how we support volunteers and parents this year.
After God has shown you and your team what financial resources you have available (because C. R. E. A. M. is a thing), it’s important that you take the time to discern what is the best use of your budget money for the ministry you’ve been called to do.
REMINDER #2: Spending money can also save you time
Money is a very important resource we have at our disposal in ministry. Yet I would say that the most important resource we have in ministry (and maybe even life in general) is time. I would go as far as to say that the time you spend with the students, volunteers, and parents of your ministry is the most important resource you have. So, we should be intentional about spending money in a way that can actually save us time, the most important resource.
There are several ways you could spend money in a way that saves you time; but for the purposes of this blog I’ll focus on one: curriculum (surprise, surprise, right?). Not sold on why you should use curriculum for your kids/student ministries? Try reading another blog here and then return to this one.
Over the past twenty years of ministry, I’ve spent the most time as a student ministry leader. At first, I didn’t use curriculum. I realized I was devoting about 15 hours a week to sermon preparation (what was I thinking, right? I blame seminary). When I started using curriculum, I eventually was able to cut that down to about 2 hours. That singular choice of using curriculum gave me 13 hours in my week back! There’s almost no price you can put on that. This intentionality could make your budget decisions even more important and helpful to what God is doing through your ministry.
REMINDER #3: If you aren’t intentional with your budget, somebody else will be.
Someone else being intentional with your budget isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Maybe you have an incredible person who’s surveying the financial situation of your entire church and is distributing the budget equitably. I hope that’s the case for you!
Yet, the best person to be advocating financially for the ministry you lead should probably be you, right? Nobody else knows your kids/students as well as you do. Nobody else can see the financial tensions as well as you can. Nobody else knows stories of discipleship in the lives of your kids and students that are linked to each dollar allocated to your ministry like you do.
Therefore, you need to be intentional in these conversations about the budget for your ministry. For the sake of what Jesus is doing in and through your ministry.
As you crunch the numbers, develop your pitch, and await the final decisions on your ministry budget for the upcoming year, I hope these reminders help you prioritize what’s in your budget and help you utilize it for the betterment of the families you serve in your church. Amen!
P.s. If you’d like some help pitching the importance of your ministry budget in general, the importance of curriculum overall, and/or the value of Orange Curriculum specifically, we have free Kids Ministry Pitch Kits and Youth Ministry Pitch Kits to help you communicate everything mentioned above to whoever decides on your budget.