No matter how big (or small) your youth group’s budget, you could always use a little more. If the youth leaders are doing their job right, vision should outpace budget. At the same time, we’re called to be good stewards of the resources we’ve got. So, making the most of any size youth budget is essential to a healthy ministry.
The truth is, a youth program doesn’t need a massive influx of cash for weekly operations. Sure, there are the mission trips to fund and pizza to buy, but there are ways to stretch the funds for routine activities and raise special funds for unique opportunities.
First things first, you need to know what your budget is and how much you’re spending. Good church ministry software should keep you apprised of current income and spending habits. Next, determine how much you have available or how much you want to re-purpose. If you don’t have any left over, or if you need to make cuts, here are some ideas that can help wrangle your finances to meet your goals:
- Find a free place to meet. If you have a church building, use it. If you don’t, find a host home, a coffee shop, a park, or even a mall to meet up.
- Take advantage of a host, in a good way. There are often people in the church who are passionate about youth, willing to lend their home for an evening meeting or special event. What’s more, they might even want to prepare a snack or drinks for the youth, saving even more money.
- Partner with other people and families in the church to help defray costs. Many times, parents of youth are willing to pitch in for food, drinks, t-shirts, or tickets to an event. Cast the vision and see what happens.
- Do a fundraiser. You know, the proverbial bake sale, car wash, or fun run. As an added bonus, the kids will see how their efforts are contributing.
- Go the cheap route. As much as we’d like filet mignon at our next church BBQ, hot dogs and value drinks will do the trick. The point is fellowship, growth, and fun; not putting on airs.
- Make a quick trip. If you want to create great memories and learning opportunities, an inexpensive camping weekend or day-trip to an area attraction will keep costs low and experiences high.
- Take a tithe from the youth. Ya, I said it. While most events and weekly meetings (apart from concerts and other outings) should be free, the youth should be invested in their ministry. Sure, they won’t be able to fund the entire operation, but what better way to support a youth budget than by teaching them how to be good stewards of the resources they have. Kid’s are never too young to learn how to give generously to the Church.
Overall, the focus should be on getting your youth from where they are, to where God wants them to be. A personal relationship, a good conversation, and unique memories are of far more value than fancy parties and expensive retreats.
Take control of your budget. Don’t let it control you. Identify what you’re working with, cut what you can cut, and grow so you can go on to fulfill the vision God has given you for your youth.