My last post was about working toward a very broad goal of having a local church budget that reflects about one third for missional giving, one third for facility or operational expenses and one third for staff compensation. Working toward that goal can be difficult if your church is having financial difficulty with meeting the budget as it is. A major shifting of resources in the budget may be needed if this budget is a goal that your church may be considering. To identify ways that this reprioritization may be done, some leaders have used a prioritization schedule like I will list below to take a look at how treasure is being used to make sure it matches up with the heart of the church. To consider how to allocate your budget, you may want to look at costs in this order:
First – what are the fixed costs that are needed to keep the church open? These are the things like the light bill, insurance. etc. – the things that would close the doors of the church if they are not paid. These are generally part of the facility/operational expense third of the budget.
Second – first mile connectional giving or apportionments. These funds keep the infrastructure of the denomination in mission and directly give to support mission globally. This allows the denomination to reach out to make disciples of Christ around the world while you are doing that locally. This is part of the mission and outreach third.
Third – youth ministries and ministries with children – how is your church reaching children and youth in your congregation and community? How much of the resources are supporting this outreach? This is part of the mission and outreach third.
Fourth – small group ministries – how is the church focusing resources toward growing in discipleship and relationship with Christ? This is part of the mission and outreach third.
Fifth – appointed pastor compensation – including salary, benefits and all costs of appointed pastors. This is part of the staff compensation third.
Sixth – other staff compensation – including all salary, benefits and costs for all non-appointed staff including musicians, directors, administrative support, etc. This is part of the staff compensation third.
Seventh – building projects. Funding provided for building projects through a budget would be included in the facility/operational expenses third of the budget.
Then – anything else. Costs for things not in these priority categories would be included in the budget as necessary keeping attention to the third/third/third overall priority as the church as defined its mission and focus.
This prioritization listing is provided as ONE example of how church budgets can be evaluated – there are many others. Local churches are as different as individual people and each has its own personality and focus. We hope this helps you if you are looking for a different way to look at a local church budget but encourage you to pray and listen to God’s guidance in the focus and direction of the use of the church resources.