What Would You Do With $500?

I’m going to give you $500 right now…figuratively of course.  And let me clarify it’s not going to you, it’s going to your student ministry.  I’ve heard that you need resources, you can’t go to that conference, you need a bit more for that camp and you just want to celebrate your ministry team because they’ve been so awesome.  Lots of tough decisions, lots of places that need money, so what do you do?

I know sounds like a dumb exercise, but think about this, “What was the first thing that came to your mind when you read the question?”  I know you want to say the right thing so that people respond, “Oh he’s so wise.” or “She’s such a selfless person.” but do you know what that right thing would be?  Would you spend $500 in the right place or blow it?

There’s an age old adage, “If you want to know where someone’s heart is look at their check book.”  If you want to know where a youth minister’s heart is check his budget.  A budget is probably one of the most important; yet, overlooked responsibilities a youth minister has.  Why is it important?

It funds and fuels the ministry

Why is it overlooked?

  • Most of us have poor personal financial practices
  • We were never taught how to budget
  • It intimidates us

I think many of us feel as if we don’t have control over our budget, but in reality we do.  If you can wisely spend $500 then $5000 shouldn’t be a problem. Luke 16:10 says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” that goes for us as youth workers and our budgets.  But back to knowing how to spend money wisely, how is it done?

  1. Write out your priorities.  If you know who and what you value, you’ll put your money there first. You basically want your money to fuel your vision.
  2. Track your prior expenses. At first there might be many holes, it might be a tiny embarrassing but it’ll show your spending habits.  Your budget can’t be a blanketed $10K, you need to know how much you put in small groups, camps and moon bounces.
  3. Plan out the spending.  With a budget you can’t exactly save up, but you will want to assign where, when and how much.  This will require research on the costs and a following of trends (i.e. gas prices)
  4. Seek Financial Wisdom.  There’s someone in your church who knows money, find them, ask them for help and have them hold you accountable.  If you’ve never had experience with money you need this person.

Again, your budget will reveal where your heart is, if you take your ministry seriously you’ll do the same with your budget.  I’m not saying what’s most important except to have a plan.

What would you do if I handed you $500 right now?

How do you maintain a successful budget?

What makes maintaining a budget so difficult?

Join the discussion No Comments

  • Ryan says:

    I know so many ministers who have lost all trust from their staff and leadership teams because of the way they have handled their budget. Gotta be trusted with the small things first.

  • Ryan great point, in money management there is trust. Trust that pastor’s will provide for the staff, trust that staff won’t waste money, trust that we use God’s gifts wisely.

  • Jeremiahi says:

    Lots of good questions.
    Honestly my first response to someone handing the ministry money would be, is there an area that you felt lead to give to, not just a general “youth ministry” gift? If not, I would most likely add it to some of the line items that got trimmed from my original proposal.
    The second two questions are tough ones. There’s a lot of practical/accounting advice to give and receive and I think it really gets down to what works best for you as a person (you should also take that and apply it to your own finances if you haven’t already).
    It’s difficult because I find it extremely hard to budget for an entire year and try to predict the inspiration and motivation to take on new events/outreaches/whatever that happen throughout the year. And nobody wants to wait a whole year for the new budget to roll out!!

    Thanks for all you do Chris!




  • For some people personal finances are a struggle. I’ve gone to daveramsey.com for resources and guidance. Where have others gone?

  • Andrew M says:

    Agree 100%.
    Know your values.
    Know your goals.
    Know where your money went last year ( or last week!)
    Keep these aligned.
    And, always look for ways to spend less so you can re-deploy those saved dollars into improvements.

  • Andrew,

    Thanks for your thoughts and insights. The hard part is the tracking if you don’t have a system.

  • Andrew M says:

    Systems are important. Let me ask you this. What system do you use to track your spiritual journey? I know the answer, you write it down. You post an entry in your journal or blog. If you believe that every financial decision is a spiritual decision, because God asks us to be good managers,, then you already have a system.