Monday, February 18, 2019

Hey Fletch … I’m been on staff at our megachurch for many years. Every year, I have to worry about the budget for my area being cut in the middle of the year, sometimes twice a year. What gives? Isn’t there a way that a church can get around this? It is killing my ministry plans. I never know what I can spend.

DRF—You have hit the nail on the head. Cutting staff budgets puts a crimp on ministry. In a tough economy, sometimes budgets do have to be trimmed. However, what you are describing is a pattern that can be avoided. 

The truth of the matter is that in most churches, ministry budgets only come to about 20% of the entire budget. The rest is salaries and benefits (50%) and operations (30%). If the staff cuts their ministry expenses by 10%, that only changes the church budget by 2%. Ministry is where the action is, so cutting a ministry budget really hurts the service that a church can do.

A better way is for a church to have a contingency budget. My preferred size is at least 5% of the total budget. Then, if there is a temporary giving shortfall, special project money in the contingency line item is not spent. Staff can continue fully using their ministry budgets. If the shortfall continues, then the entire budget can be trimmed in the next fiscal year.

The main expense of churches is in staff and building debt. Perhaps your church is overstaffed or should get rid of existing debt.