Your church has a limited pool of resources to keep your ministry working toward accomplishing your mission . You cannot throw money into every project, ministry, or person you are passionate about. Putting money in one area means there is less money to put somewhere else. You must be intentional when you put together your church budget .
Every church has a unique financial situation, and that affects how easy it is to move funds around. A mature, debt-free church, for example, probably has more flexibility in their budget than a church plant that just purchased their first facility does.
Regardless of where your church is at financially, there are always healthy ways to “trim the fat” in your budget, so you can use more of what God has given you on the things He has called you to be and do.
Here is how you decide where to move money away from.
Where are we wasting money?
This is obviously the first place you look. Anything that is wasting money clearly has to go. Some of those things are obvious, like subscriptions to services or software you never use, or supplies that are not necessary.
There are, however, a lot of gray areas, too. Some wasteful spending is harder to detect and requires more conversation.
Call together your ministry leaders and anyone who spends money on behalf of your church to talk about areas where money is being spent poorly. Have everyone come prepared to talk about what regular purchases they feel are necessary and what things they could live without.
If there are specific purchases you are concerned about, ask thoughtful questions like:
- How does this impact your ministry or team?
- What would we do without this?
- Are there other options we can try?
- If you had to cut $___ from your team’s budget, what would you cut?
Involving more people in this process will give you a more informed perspective, help you keep from stepping on people’s toes, and hopefully create a collaborative effort to reduce waste.
Where are we ineffective?
While wasteful spending often stands out, it is often much harder to identify where your church might be ineffective. A budget requires that you honestly assess where your money is being inefficient. This means taking the time to critically assess the value, impact, and purpose of your ministries and staff positions.
It is especially important to look at the value your paid staff are bringing to your team. Sometimes churches harbor bad staff members for years. You need to have explicit expectations and measurements for people on the payroll. Poor workers can eat up church finances without contributing anything of real value.
In ministry, that value is not always tangible, especially with new ministries. Newer ministries can take a while for them to get going. That is OK if you give everyone clear, personalized success metrics . Every staff person and every ministry should know exactly what they need to do to contribute value to your team and your church.
If a paid staff person is not contributing the value you need from them, or if a ministry is falling short of your agreed upon expectations, this is an area where you need to be a good steward and potentially let them go.
This does not always mean the person, role, or ministry is to blame. It just means, currently, this is not the best use of your church’s resources.
What ministries are not facilitating our vision?
Your budget should serve your mission, so this is a perfect opportunity to scrutinize whether you are using resources in a way that moves you closer to your mission or further away. Cut all the peripheral expenses.
Even if something does not fall under “wasteful spending” or an “ineffective use of resources,” if it is not serving a larger purpose within your mission, it is a distraction from that mission. This is most apparent when there are mission-oriented goals that you do not have the resources to reach this year.
Need help with your church budget?
Creating a church budget is a lot of work. And even if you do not have much experience with finances, it is essential that church leaders lead the process. This is the most important document your church creates every year, and it has a huge impact on your ability to fulfill your mission.
We want churches to be financially healthy so they can continue to grow and serve the purpose God has called them to. We created a free church budgeting handbook to make this process a little easier.
We hope it turns budget season into a time of helpful reflection, refinement, and renewed focus on your mission.
Get your free copy of The CDF Capital Church Budgeting Handbook.