For those of you in ministry, or for those of you who wonder how we make budget decisions, here is a document that we recently introduced to our staff. It is a general overview of how a ministry budget should be approached.
A budget is a guideline. It’s a way of staying on track without being so rigid that there is no room for flexibility, change, or creativity.
Your budget should reflect your vision. Don’t start with numbers, start with prayer. What is God wanting to accomplish through you and your ministry in the coming year? What would be a ‘win’? What are you envisioning that, unless God helps you, can’t be done?
What will your vision cost? Vision always exceeds budget. There is always going to be a challenge between what we would like to accomplish and what we can afford. However, God is not limited by our budget. This tension simply forces us back to prayer and creativity. If God wants it done, it will get done, and that is the real bottom line.
• Am I clear on the vision of the church and the Lead Pastor?
• Is my ministry currently in line with this vision?
• Are there obvious adjustments I need to make to come in line?
• How much have I prayed for my ministry, this church, and it’s leaders in the past month?
• Have I taken the time and isolation necessary to hear from God?
• What are the strengths of my ministry that I should build on? (riding the momentum of where God has already blessed)
• What are the weaknesses in my areas that need to be focused on? *there are some weaknesses that won’t necessarily cripple your ministry (you can’t be an expert on everything) and then there are issues that you know are holding you and/or your ministry back. These are the ones to focus on.
• What opportunities has God placed before you?
• What threats do I need to be aware of? *The last 4 points is a ‘SWOT’ analysis.
• Have you clearly distinguished things that are needs and things that are wants? What do you ‘have to have’ versus your wish list.
• Start with monthly recurring items that you know you absolutely have to have.
• Schedule large expenses like curriculum, special events, equipment, software, etc and when you will be making that purchase. Remember that you are usually purchasing the item a few weeks before you actually need it.
• Create room in your budget for larger outreach events. You don’t need the details at this point you just need to keep it in focus so that the budget is there when you want it.
• Add up where you are at right now for May 01, 2008 – April 30, 2009.
• Go back to your vision/goals/strategies. Will this help you to achieve your goals? How much fundraising will you have to do?
Vision creates goals. Goals must have detailed strategies for execution, delegation, and completion. Strategies require budget. Budget is given to vision. That’s the circular process of ministry budgeting.
Remember, people give to vision not need.
Your budget should be kept on a monthly template where you can evaluate your spending with ministry effectiveness. A monthly budget update needs to be submitted to the Lead Pastor before each monthly board meeting. Our goal is to ensure that you are sufficiently funded to see your vision accomplished for God’s glory!