This post was written by guest writer Meghan Clayton.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by your children’s ministry budget? You’re not alone!
Children’s Ministry budgeting can be a challenge, no matter how long you’ve been in ministry.
Maybe you are new in Children’s Ministry and have no idea what to do with the budget you were just given.
Or maybe you are a veteran looking for ways to stay on top of your budget!
As children’s ministry leaders, we have been entrusted with money to budget and steward for your church and God’s kingdom.
Being wise with our financial decisions is a key part of integrity in ministry, whether your budget is $500 or $50,000.
Take a look at these five tips to make your budget work for you!
1. Understand your church’s view on money.
Every church has a different view on money.
The first step to becoming a budgeting rockstar is to understand how your church understands money.
Ask yourself and your finance committee/accountant/pastor these questions:
- What is our view on debt? How much debt are we in?
- Are we prepared for the future? Do we have an emergency fund?
- How do we view budget money? Do I need to get approval for every purchase or am I allowed to spend the budget money I’m over as I see fit?
- If we are in a tough financial situation, what is the first thing to be cut?
- Can I plan for the future of our children’s ministry by setting up a savings account?
- Are we allowed to fundraise for special events like camp?
Gaining the answers to questions like these and others along those lines will help you better understand the system in which you work.
It helps provide clarity when you request money and when you need to get approval.
Remember that children’s ministry is just a piece to the puzzle of the entire mission of the church and you are operating on the same team.
You are not competing with others for funds, but rather working together to accomplish the same goal.
Be a team player, but stand up and advocate for your ministry!
2. Find a system that works for you AND your church.
How are you handling money and receipts?
When you make a purchase and get a receipt, what is the first thing you do with it?
When I get a receipt, I immediately fill out the budget request form and turn it in.
I keep my receipts in a separate basket on my desk if I cannot immediately get to them.
If I order an item online, as soon as I order it and get the receipt to my inbox, I print it out so I can fill out the form.
However, that might not work for your church and your schedule.
Maybe you need to set aside one day a week or every other week to do your budgeting.
Keep Your Own Records
It is also helpful to keep track of your budget, not relying on the weekly or monthly budget report.
This is because you will be able to see in real-time what your balances are, whereas the church accountant might not be able to keep things tallied as quickly as they have to wait on a bill.
For example, if you buy an item at the end of January, it might not be until mid-March that the purchase shows up on the credit card bill, leaving you a month and a half behind.
Keeping track of your budget will help you not overspend.
But be sure to compare your numbers to the church’s records to make sure you aren’t missing anything major.
3. Adopt policies to hold yourself accountable if you handle money.
There are two things that are most likely to cause a scandal with a church staff member: a moral failure or issues with money.
Do everything you can to keep yourself above board when it comes to money.
If your church does not already have a drop box for money to be placed, especially for large amounts like camp or other events, ask leadership to invest in one.
As a children’s ministry leader, you need to be very careful in the contexts where you might handle money.
Staying above board and never operating behind closed doors are key to the integrity required when working or volunteering at a church.
If there are situations where you must handle money, do not do so alone and have an assistant available to ensure that no one is mishandling church funds.
Never leave the church building with money that is not yours, immediately turn in money if you receive it, and always be 100% transparent about what the money is for and why you have it.
4. Translate your vision into numbers for those that don’t speak ‘kidmin.’
Let’s face it, what we do doesn’t always translate well to people who don’t work or volunteer in the kidmin world.
Many people don’t understand why we need the things we do: safety items, toys, excessive amounts of glue sticks, and more!
If you have been in children’s ministry for any amount of time, you have likely been in front of a committee trying to explain why you need an extra $200 to cover the cost of goldfish or even nerf guns!
We do strange things… but they all have a purpose for the kingdom of God!
So how do we translate these things to those that don’t understand what we are doing?
Here are a few ideas:
- Share bite-sized pieces. When you present your annual budget, let them know how much you are spending on each child per week. Breaking down what you are doing into bite-sized pieces helps you’re your vision. So for example, if you had 25 Kids and a $2,750 budget, it would be $2.11/Child per week OR if you had 150 Kids and a $17,000 budget, it would be $2.17/child per week. The math is (annual budget/average number of kids per week)/52.
- Justify, justify, justify. For example, when someone asks why you need to buy jumbo crayons for the 3-year-old rather than the regular ones that are cheaper, explain that the jumbo crayons do not break as easily in their small hands while they are learning fine motor skills and help them engage muscles much easier, leading to fewer feelings of frustration, which will create a positive experience at church, leading to opening a door to having gospel conversations!
- Have leadership on your side. Discussing with your Senior Pastor or supervisor what you are asking for and needing before you ask for it from a committee can be a huge help. After all, they are a little closer to the Kidmin world than some committee members. Having leadership, especially if they are well-respected, in your corner can make a huge difference in the long run.
5. Plan for the future.
Do you have big plans for your children’s ministry in the near or far future?
Hopefully, the answer is yes!
But, most times, that requires money.
Communicate your goals with leadership in your church and get approximate ideas of how much things will cost.
Ask to be able to set aside money each year to accomplish your goal.
If your children’s ministry is growing and you are hoping to renovate your children’s worship room, you will need money.
Or maybe you need new playground equipment because the old one is beginning to show signs of irreparable wear and tear.
Plan for the future by asking for the cost to be spread over multiple years rather than in one immediate lump sum.
By communicating these goals and giving approximate costs to leadership, they will be able to help you accomplish these goals!
Budgeting overwhelms even the most seasoned Children’s Ministry leaders, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Take deep breaths, ask for help, and stay on top of your budget and you will be sure to be a rockstar with your kidmin budget!
Meghan Clayton is a Preschool & Children’s Minister at FBC Manchester, Tennessee. She holds a Bachelor’s of Music from Carson-Newman University in Church Music, Music Performance, and Spanish, and a MA in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She currently resides in Manchester, TN with her two fur babies, cats Vera and Sophie. Meghan is a children’s ministry blogger and speaker and operates the Meghan’s Ministry children’s ministry blog. Follow her on Instagram & Facebook @meghansministry.