The more church leaders I talk with the more it seems like a…

Ministry is like a broken recordNot because the challenges they express aren’t real. Because they are so consistent.

It’s gotten to the point where I can anticipate what they will say next. Often having to refrain myself from interjecting.

It’s amazing…

Different denominations. Different states. Different church sizes.

Same challenge.

Budget

The lack of adequate financial resources seems almost universal.

While it happens for a host of reasons they fall into two camps.

Decreased Giving – community economics, or church vision, mission, and attendance have stalled, causing a shortfall

Church Growth – attendance outpaces spiritual maturity and giving, causing a shortfall

While one is a healthy problem and the other is not, the resulting challenges are nearly identical.

The question is how we will deal with it.

Will we be intentional and strategic, or reactionary and protective?

The natural tendency, in a time of church budget cuts, is to retreat inward and protect what is “ours” like a chicken protects her young.

This type of reactionary leadership evaluates ministry based on what it “costs.” In the effort to “save the ministry,” we end up further paralyzing it.

Here’s some examples…

1) Cut Promotions

Promoting ministry is not cheap. It costs in time and resources.

The problem is, an informed church is an attending and giving church. Promotions keeps ministry in front of your church and visible in the community.

Stop promoting and people stop coming. Not because they aren’t interested. Because they don’t know.

2) Cut Staff

Ministry takes people. There is only so much a single person can do. Cut your staff too far and ministry not only suffers, it fails.

The average person has the ability to care for, manage and disciple seven others. This means you need to have one staff member or high level leader for every seven congregation members.

The equations looks like this:

Staff + Leaders ÷ Church Size = Per Leader Care

Exceed this number and your church is in trouble long term.

Your options are… find and train volunteers or hire people.

The reality is, you only train volunteers well, if a staff or highly bought in volunteer handles it. Spread you leaders too thin and you burn them out trying to care for more people than they are able.

3) Cut Audio / Visual / Lighting

Weekly, churches stretch every last piece of technology to its limit. Expecting it will work without upkeep or maintenance and freaking out when something breaks.

Typically underfunded to start with, we cut the budget even further and hope for the best.

The Visual Church Media FaceBook group recently cited an average monthly A/V/L budget of $20-40. That barely covers batteries for microphones and incidental maintenance. Let alone stage light repair, projector lenses, upgrades or computer hardware needs.

An unused monthly budget doesn’t mean an unneeded monthly budget. It’s a stewardship issue for the inevitable.

4) Cut Children’s Programming

Curriculum, snacks, cleaning supplies, wipes, art supplies, etc. all take money.

The challenge is a church will only grow, long term, with families in the forefront.

Do away with children’s funding and you slowly do away with families.

No Families = Smaller Attendance = Less Giving

Value families and they will stay. Devalue them and they will leave, telling their friends as they go.

So how do we steward the finances we do have so necessary cuts hurt the least?

Measure everything against the larger church vision and goals

Want to be a place for families? Fund children’s and student ministry and cut elsewhere.

Want to be known for your worship service? Fund worship, stage and audio/visual budgets and cut elsewhere.

Want to be a community outreach partner? Fund clothes drives, food initiatives and counseling programs and cut elsewhere.

Align your ministry budgets with your stated goals and everything becomes easier. It’s no longer a question of what church budget to cut. It’s a question of what you fund to accomplish the vision God has given you.