For most of my adult life, I have been a attending children’s ministry conferences. Some have accused me of being a conference junkie. That’s okay with me, I’m sure there are worse things that I have also been called. The thing about conferences that I love is that it’s one of the best places on earth for folks to ask questions and receive answers. If you know me at all, you know I love questions!
At 99.9% of the conferences I’ve attended somewhere during the event there are 3 questions I’m always asked. Number one is, “How do you recruit volunteers”, the second is, “How do you know when it’s time to leave?” The third is, “We are a church of this size, we have this many kids, what should our budget be?” Sound familiar? Maybe you have asked me one of these. I will let my book VOLUNTEERS THAT STICK answer the first one, my resource STAY OR GO can answer the second and the third question I’ll try to answer in this article.
The simple answer is that there is no secret formula. You see, budgets mean different things to different folks. Let’s get on the same page and turn to the word.
Luke 14:28 tells us this: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” You see, planing must always go before action. A budget without a plan is just a pile of money. The truth is, budgets should not be based on church size alone. Budgets are not law; just because something made the budget doesn’t mean you can spend it. Budgets are more of a spending guide if the money is there, not just a random guide or guess, but an estimate of the costs of the plan of action based on what you want to see God do in your ministry in the coming year.
This is a process that I start in July of each year. I begin to ask the Lord what He wants for the children and families of the church I serve. I start with prayer and ask key leaders in my ministry to do the same.
Then it’s time to dream in God. I also brainstorm with my team what they sense God wants to do next year. Brainstorming is a wonderful tool, but at the end of the day you have to hear from God for where He wants your ministry.
As the leader of our Next Generation Ministries I write out what I believe we should be aiming for as a team. I share this with my team and give them the areas I feel are “thus sayeth the Lord” (these are not up for negotiation). I ask them to come up with a plan to pull these off.
Here is the formula I teach them to use for this: It all begins with the end result. At the end of next year, what do we believe Jesus wants to do in the hearts and lives of the children and families? To effectively do this, we have to start with the end in mind and look at trends and percentages presently as well as historically that are a realistic goal for growth. Numerically, what are you planning for? Spiritually, what are you believing for? How will you achieve these?
Another important question is how will you evaluate and examine where you are throughout the year. What will a win look like? If you don’t know this how will you recognize it? Something I learned years ago that changed my life is that If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do what you have never done before. Same action brings same results. In other words, if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time.