Itís a new year, which means that for many student pastors, itís time to create your yearly youth ministry budget!
We understand that for many student pastors, the process of creating your student ministry budget can be a challenging and tedious part of your job. While you may not get excited for the process of developing your annual budget, we all know itís not only a necessary part of the job, but also an extremely important part of planning the year for your students. So why not equip yourself to be ready and do it well?
Think cash flow, not just calendar year.
So many times we talk to youth leaders in October who canít make their deposits for camp because they havenít gotten their budgets or funds for the next year yet. Try thinking ahead and budgeting in for those future year items in the current year. This will help you stay ahead of the game and make payments as they are due, avoiding the stress of getting behind! This part of budgeting can be a little bit difficult even for the most math-minded of people so donít be afraid to consult your go-to finance person for a little help.
Yes, Iím an accountant, and yes, Iím telling you to throw out the boundaries and really dream big for your student ministry! Dreaming doesnít cost you a cent so spend a little time really thinking big before you even start your budget. Once youíve landed on a general vision for the year, share it with some of those on your student ministry leadership team. Invite them to dream with you. Youíll be amazed at the big ideas they bring to the table. Use an idea board to help visualize your year, even breaking it down seasonally (spring, summer, fall, winter) to help make it more manageable. Remember, sticky notes and index cards are your friends in this process!
Break it up.
Once youíve got the year ahead of you laid out, break it up into major events and projects. Youíre going to want to create a separate budget for each of those things. Tedious, I know, but trust me when I tell you itís much easier and accurate to add up these smaller budgets when you are trying to figure out your annual proposed budget. Breaking your overall budget up into several smaller pieces will make it a lot easier to plan for those individual events and projects as well as track your spending throughout the year.
Reference the past.
Let your records do some of the work for you when trying to plan out what everything will cost for the coming year in your ministry. Go to your finance team for a report of all income and expenses from the last year in your department and use this as a reference point to get you started for planning the coming year. It will not only help you see the timeline of big budget items or events, but will also help you account for those boring monthly recurring expenses that are easily forgotten about.
So now that youíre dreamed your dreams and come up with a plan, itís time for some flexibility. We all know deep down that the budget of our dreams isnít always the budget of our reality. Be flexible and donít let it set you back when your pastor or CFO says, ďSorry, we just donít have the money for that.Ē Focus instead on what you can afford and give those things your all! Canít afford that new coffee bar you really wanted to buy? I have one word for you to come up with an alternative: Pinterest. Canít afford that international mission trip to Belize? Find a local mission you can support instead and make that experience incredible for your students. No matter what youíre facing, the bottom line is this: be flexible and willing to make those budget adjustments as they come, focusing instead on whatís really important to you and your team and doing your best to make that happen.
We hope you find these tips helpful as you create your student ministry budget for this year and years to come! We wish you well as you prepare your ministry financially in order to point your students toward Jesus.