How We Budget

As I mentioned previously about how we budget, I got several requests to e-mail our guidelines. I’ve posted them here so you can download them and use them.

Let me give you a couple of tips that we use in preparing a yearly budget:

#1 – Be realistic – I know you’re sure that outreach event is going to take your church from 200 to 2,000 in just one week, but why not look at your past and say, “We’ve grown by 25% each year, I think we can expect the same this upcoming year.”

#2 – Consider the church’s goals – What are you trying to accomplish this year? Are you seeking to do more with missions? Youth? Children? Marketing? All of these things needs to factor into your bottom line.

#3 – Think through your events and calendar – What events are you planning on having? Most events take some kind of budgetary consideration to happen. Also, this will help you not plan too much at the same time and allow you to manage your cash flow better. Too much going out all at once is never good!

#4 – Give your highest impact ministries the greatest priority – Ministry areas that are not vital to the mission of your church can become a money pit. For us, children’s ministry, worship, and teaching have always gotten our best time. attention, and resources.

#5 – Kill what isn’t working – Because we don’t like admitting defeat, we tend to want to sink money into ministry areas that aren’t working. Most of the time, ineffective ministries need a funeral.

#6 – Will this take more staff? – Factor people into the equation. The greatest asset of any church is the staff. You can be effective without technology (believe it or not). But without great people, it isn’t going to happen.

#7 – How is your current staff doing? – Did someone on your staff have a baby? Is there a need that you don’t know about? Talk to them and find where they are before you invest in someone else.

#8 – Look at what you spent your budget on last year – what are the areas you are going to cut? What areas do you want to invest in more. I bet you will be surprised on where all of it went. This happens personally and in church world.

#9 – Look out for the black hole called “Miscellaneous.” We have a decent sized budget that God has entrusted to us. But we never have more than $100 under miscellaneous expense. Anything that’s in there more than once is no longer miscellaneous. Look through these items and find where they fall under and have the staff plan for that expense next year.

#10 – take a step of faith – we have always looked for God to do more this year than last year. So we plan our budget based on data, but then we always increase it a little more in faith. This isn’t a flippant thing. It’s something we pray about, but it has always stretched us as a staff. Download budgeting_guidelines_2006.doc

If you have any questions, I’ll try to answer as best I can in the comments… enjoy!

Take a Day Off!

Attention Pastors:

This Sunday (The one after Thanksgiving) is the lowest attended church service of the year in the United States. This is a great weekend to take off. I’m not teaching. I’m thinking about checking out another church and seeing what’s happening somewhere else to get some ideas. So find someone to fill in and enjoy a weekend off. The best part is that 1/2 your church will be out and they won’t even realize you were gone…

We have always used this weekend to break in a new teacher into the mix. It’s low pressure since there aren’t as many people and if he/ she totally screws things up, not that many people heard it. It’s a win/win deal…

Church Advice from John Mayer

John_mayer_aa923_1 I was reading up on my favorite artist, John Mayer, and came across a quote that stopped me in my tracks. In speaking about his live performances, he said, “There’s a deep responsibility to move every last soul in the room.” When we prepare a series or I’m putting together my Sunday message that is my aim, to move every last soul in the room. Where do we want to move them? For everyone, it’s different. For some, it’s to consider starting the journey with God. For others, it’s to deepen their level of commitment to God and experience Him in new ways. I’m wondering if we’ve forgotten the mystical element to the Christian experience and we’re giving people great information and helpful hints for life, but we haven’t moved their souls…

It’s that time of year again…

I’m a huge believer in budgeting.  Not only personally, but for church as well.  Gary’s post is so true that in the first year you can’t really set a budget because there’s no pattern to work from.  But after the first 12-18 months you may be able to start considering budgeting in a little more concrete fashion since you will be able to see some trends forming in your church. 

At our last staff meeting, our administrator handed out a P/L sheet for each ministry and a set of guidelines for preparing a budget (If you think this might be helpful, let me know and I’ll post it).  Once everyone prays and knows what their individual ministry areas want to accomplish and need to make it happen, they meet with our administrator and I.  At this time we either give them the thumbs up and tell the to go for it, or we tweak it up or down depending on what they’re trying to do.  One of the things I do with our staff is let them know where each ministry area stands in importance.  This is a difficult conversation, but a necessary one.  From day 1, we’ve said that Teaching, Worship, and Children’s Ministry were the top tier areas that we would resource. That means other areas may not get everything they want.  If you don’t have this conversation with your staff, every ministry area will think they have the same level of importance and therefore should be funded equally.  That leads to a mess.

By the time I meet with each staff member to go over their areas of oversight, I’ve already prepared a number for the overall budget for the next calendar year that I take to our board of directors.  Once we agree on the budget with the board, I let the staff know and we’re off to the races. 

I would encourage every Senior Pastor to budget for the upcoming calendar year because you budget is simply your goals in dollar form.  What you spend the resources God has entrusted to you shows what ou value.  If you say Children’s Ministry is second to none in your church, but you don’t resource that ministry, don’t kid yourself.  What you spend dollars on shows what we value most.  It’s true in our personal lives and it’s true in the church as well…

Why is a Pastor’s life so weird?

I’ve come to the conclusion that Pastors live weird lives.  Why do I say this?  Because most of the Pastors I know have weird stuff happen to them all the time.  I feel like Ezekiel at times.  God had that poor guy go through so much crazy stuff simply to illustrate what God was going to do.  That’s what happens to us as well.  I find that every time I’m preparing a message and I can’t find a good way to illustrate something, God always helps me out by allowing me to get into some kind of bizzare situation. 

That’s what happend to me last night.  Carey will tell you the story