A Simple Strategic Church Budget Process

Good day! This is Daren Wride and welcome to Priority Pastor. 

I’m starting to do some work for a webinar on church budget process, which is maybe more exciting than it sounds. And I know that you might listen to this podcast, not catch the webinar or getting it the Priority Pastor where the webinar will be recorded for all time. So I just want to share with you a real quick overview of church budget process that I found really helpful and a little bit strategic. It’s not just a random detached from ministry priorities budget process. 

Step number one is that you make sure your church purpose is clear. That you understand, and everyone understands, that the purpose of the church is to make disciples. And if you have it even beyond that, you’ve identified your unique mission and vision, how you’re uniquely doing that in your context all the better, but that needs to be clear right out of the gate. 

Now what we do is that your your leadership team, whether it’s your board of elders or deacons or trustees or finance team, whatever in your polity does this, they prayerfully established a giving target for the next year. Whatever that target is for, you know, you’re your general fund as we call it, the general pot that the money goes into. And then what you do is you you do an evaluation process with every ministry. 

I’ve had a simple evaluation form and basically it starts so every ministry has a mandate and the mandate, you know, it’s got a stated purpose basically how does this ministry help the church achieve its purpose and you know who it works with, who’s the primary contact for that ministry, etc. Well the evaluation forum starts with the purpose that ministry, asks how that purpose has been achieved or not, asks what the ministry costs are projected to be for the next year. Separated out from that is any capital cost, expenditures of equipment and one time things, building related upgrades, that kind of thing. And you do this with every ministry. 

And I like every ministry be tied to a staff person at some point so there’s just a clear line of communication and flow and accountability and what you do is you take these projected costs for every ministry, the ministry costs and the capital costs, and you total them all up and you lay that total alongside the projected giving that has been planned or expected or trusted for from the board. 

And if there’s a difference and often there will be a difference, well then you as ministry leaders, not necessarily the individual leaders of all the ministries, but you know pastoral team, executive team, whatever, you basically adjust those projections those requests to fit that giving target. 

And so then you roll it out. And your requests are 10 percent over what the projected giving is, you don’t roll everybody back 10 percent. You basically look at what the priority ministries are. You look at how they have been fulfilling their purpose in relation to the church and their stated purpose. And you allocate funds then somewhat accordingly. In some cases, you might want to give ministries more than they requested. In other cases you might want to choose to end a ministry or program if you call it that in your church, because it’s just not fulfilling a purpose and it’s not worth spending that money on. 

In our process here right now, we discovered a ministry, it’s kind of a sub ministry, it was costing about a thousand dollars a year. And when we looked at actually what was happening in this ministry, it was really two different people. Two people involved in that ministry, both internally, externally, two people. A thousand dollars a year just being laid out to to cater to the interests of these two people and we thought you know what that makes no sense whatsoever. And so we decided to pull the plug on that ministry as a whole and just allocate the funds elsewhere. 

So that’s a rapid overview of the budget process. The key points really are to be clear in your church purpose, be clear on the purpose of the ministry, and make sure that purpose relates to the church purpose. Give your projected general fund giving, get a projected total from all the ministries and then make your adjustments based on priorities. 

Again, I’m planning to do a full webinar on this. Depending when you’re listening on this podcast, it could be you know in the future, it could be in the past. Ultimately it will be probably in the resource area for Priority Pastor, so jump into that if you haven’t already. 

Right on. Thanks for listening. Have an outstanding day. 

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