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Where to Spend Your Student Ministry Budget

Youth ministry budgets … what a beautiful, sacred and probably small sum of money your church has carved out of their operating buget specifically for the youth ministry. Love it!

Believe it or not, most youth ministries across the U.S. don’t have a budget given to them at all, or have to fundraise every penny they get for the year. If you find yourself underfunded entirely or overworked fundraising, you would fit in with most youth workers across the country. It is a rare youth ministry that has the right amount of money per student, and if I’m honest with you, I’m never satisfied and always want more anyhow. Ha!

So where should you spend that money? Great question! Keep the big picture in mind first—these are tithes of the church or funds trusted to you at an event to help students. Spend it wisely. Be choosy. Record your purchases. Make it stretch as far as you can. Keep some for the end of the year in reserve so you don’t have to go super lean for the last quarter.

Maybe a breakdown of a youth ministry budget is a good post for the future. Today I want to concentrate on a few of the things I might spend my end of year budget on:

Are you kidding me? Money left? I’ve actually a little overspent or barely have enough to go to McDonald’s with! If that’s the case—use the pennies left and hit up the Dollar Menu and take out your senior pastor to help soften the blow when he/she actually finds out the bottom line. I recommend springing for the McRib combo.

Invest in items that benefit you in the next youth group season.
Use the offerings and tithes that have been entrusted to you by getting some long-term bang for your buck. Looking for small group material that will work in the coming year? Grab an expensive curriculum now and set yourself up for the next season of small groups. Think about a DYM annual membership you can buy today and benefit from for the next 12 months. Stock up on sale items and discover discounts that will give you a supply of resources you typically reach for close at hand.

You can never go wrong with volunteer training.
Search for end of the year resources to help encourage and/or train your team in the various aspects of youth ministry. Picking up some little books for each of them might be a good use of your budget money. Short, quick reads will always win. Be sure to write a note inside, too!

Go for personal development.
This is a big one for me—when I head into the end of a budget year, I try to register for an event or training that will help me be a better youth pastor. Registering in advance is expected, and doing it over two budget years may allow you to spread the costs out. Check out Orange Conference, one of our youth ministry webshow sponsors and one of the best conferences around! Plus, it’d be fun to meet you and you could use the break!

Pre-pay for Events, Camps or Retreats
If you know the camp or retreat center you’ll be using in the coming year, consider placing a deposit on the location and lock it in. If you’re doing an event at a rollerskating rink and you know the date, plunk down some money in advance while you’ve got it.

A few ideas as you think about youth ministry and money!  

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Josh Griffin is high school pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. He’s the co-counder of DownloadYouthMinistry.com and host of the Youth Ministry Garage Podcast. He's authored more than 20 youth ministry resources and is the author of "99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders" with Doug Fields. Josh is a father of 4 who speaks a little, podcasts a little, Twitters a bit, and blogs a lot. You can find him at DownloadYouthMinistry.com!