by Bev Robertson/ December 19, 2016
In the world of children’s ministries, there are milestones each year—summer camp, back to school bash, fall festival, Christmas programs and parties. Hopefully, those events are “in the books” and you are looking forward to the great things God has for your kids’ ministries in the days to come. With the New Year comes much planning, preparation, and a good look at funding the coming year with a proper budget. For some, just the mention of the word “budget” sends shivers down the spine. As with every other ministry of the church, though, a budget is necessary and important.
Let’s take a look at a few basics of budgeting for children’s ministry. First, where does money come from for your ministry? Is there a budgeted amount from the church fund or church board? Or perhaps you have to raise the funds for your ministry through fund-raisers and awareness. Regardless of how the funds are acquired, there are some necessary steps that must be taken when setting a budget into place.
First, meet with your lead pastor or business administrator to determine the needs and desired amounts to fully fund each of the ministries you oversee. For example, not only must the needs of Sunday School and children’s church be met through a budget, but you may also have boys’ and girls’ ministries, Junior Bible Quiz, preschool ministries, special needs ministries, etc., as a part of the larger picture of children’s ministries. Each of those sub-ministries or auxiliary ministries must also be funded if they are to remain healthy and productive. Before meeting with the pastor or administrator, check with each department leader or team member and get a clear figure on what it will take to effectively fund their ministries.
A general dollar amount is good, but what would be better is an amount needed per child in each department for the basic items—curriculum, events, crafts, office supplies, field trips, etc. For instance, if your church has Girls Ministries and Royal Rangers, you may want to look at the cost of curriculum for each child, uniforms, badges, etc. Don’t forget about the nursery department, if that falls under your leadership. Along with your auxiliary ministries, consider the children’s church expenses for both preschool and elementary kids.
Second, when considering your annual financial needs, be sure to include items in your budget such as repairs, replacing outdated equipment, improvements, or general additions that you may want to make in your children’s area. This is not necessarily an appropriate time for a wish list but a realistic look at what will be necessary to run an effective ministry.
Third, let’s review the yearly big events for a moment. Every year, certain events happen, such as Easter, end-of-school year, summer camp, MEGA Sport Camp/VBS, beginning of school, fall festival, and Christmas activities. Those events at your church may be elaborate or very simple, but most take money to accomplish. When you meet with the person in authority over money, be ready to give a realistic amount of what each special event will cost. This will take some homework on your part. Investigate and see what supplies you already have and what you will need to purchase. Since most of the events are a once-a-year activity, see what can you borrow to keep the cost in order. Also, see what can be donated to the cause rather than purchased. Big events and outreaches are necessary and profitable to the church as they often bring in new children and families. Be sure to put an emphasis on possible outcomes and what the investment of funds might potentially render.
Finally, be realistic with your budget planning. You may have an in-depth presentation in which you have invested much research. Your needs may be well represented and your dollar amount may be very practical and necessary. However, there is a chance that the final budget outcome may not be favorable. There may not be funds available, or possibly not readily available, for what you are asking. Be prepared to go back to the negotiating table with Plans B and C if necessary. Always remember this: the ministry will go on. Children will still come and will still be impacted.
A very wise mentor of mine once gave me a great piece of advice: “There is no budget in the world that can secure a child’s eternity, and there is no cost when leading a child to Christ through the plan of salvation. The price has already been paid!” How we enhance the salvation and discipleship experience often takes funds and investment, but we can have an effective ministry regardless of how much money there is or isn’t in the budget.
As with all things that will prosper, take each budget entry and every concern to God in prayer beforehand. Before we need man’s approval, we first need God’s wisdom and favor. God is the One who entrusted you with your ministry position, and He knows full well of the needs of children’s ministries and those who lead them.