At my very first youth ministry interview, I remember asking the committee if there was a youth ministry budget.

The committee said yes and I naively accepted it’s answer at face value.

Shortly after accepting that job, I asked the senior pastor for a copy of my budget. In response, he questioned, “What budget?”

He assured me the youth had never needed any money before and questioned what I would do with money if I had it.

After rattling off a quick list of how I’d spend the money, the pastor told me he’d find a couple hundred dollars for me to use for the remaining five months of the year and that if I really wanted to, I could write a proposal asking our church council for money for the following year.

Using the process I’ve outlined throughout this series, I did just that.

After crafting my proposal, I then proceeded to meet individually with key stakeholders – people from our congregation who were, in one way or another, invested in our youth ministry. 

I met with our associate pastor (my immediate supervisor) and explained my proposal, line item by line item. I did the same with key people on our church council. I shared my proposal with my adult leaders and the youth committee (largely comprised of parents) so that they, too, would have a working understanding of what I was asking for and why. I also shared my budget proposal with the students themselves because I wanted them to be conversational about the impact a budget would have on our ministry.

In each meeting, I explained how the budgeted money would be used. Then I told stories of how our ministry was already impacting our teens and asked people to imagine how much more effective it might be with just a little bit of budgeted money.

As a result of my due diligence, when we got to our church’s annual meeting and people saw our proposed budget, they weren’t caught off-guard. Instead, they were incredibly supportive of funding our ministry. In fact, when the senior pastor tried at the last minute to cut our budget, person after person stood up in support of giving our ministry exactly what we’d requested. Because enough people understood how the money would be used and the difference it would make in the lives of our teens, they were able to persuade those still on the fence to fully fund our ministry.

In the years (and churches) since then, I’ve never had to fight for a youth ministry’s budget the way I had to in that first congregation. Even so, that experience taught me the value of educating a broad pool of people about my ministry’s budget proposal and taking time to address any and all concerns they might have. To this day, I still meet with key stakeholders to educate them about our youth ministry’s budget. In addition to helping ensure that my ministry is continually well-funded, doing so creates a large pool of supporters who understand our youth ministry’s vision and impact.

That’s something that’s always beneficial – to you, your ministry, and the families you serve.

Other posts in this series: 

Dream Big 

Translating Dreams into Numbers 

Revenue Streams 

Crafting Your Budget Proposal