The most important thing to remember when working on your youth ministry budget is that the money is not your money. It is not your own personal spending money. It is God’s money and your youth ministry is a steward of it. The money has been given to the church (or directly to the youth ministry) by other people as an offering for the furthering of God’s Kingdom. Before you spend any of that money, make sure you remember the reason people gave. It is also good for you to remember the fact that people have gone without and sacrificed to give that money to your ministry.
Once you understand that important aspect of the youth ministry money, you need to begin thinking about the value and necessity of the things you are adding to the budget. It is crucial in this part of the process to stop and refocus yourself on being a good steward. Ask yourself questions like: What is needed? Can we find something equivalent for less? Is that a good use of our money? Is the money better spent on something else? Taking extra time on this step can help you avoid regret down the road.
Do not allow yourself to get caught up in spending money just because you have money to spend. Just because you have money to buy something new does not mean you have to spend it on a new television, sound system, or even a new youth building. You are a steward of this money and people are trusting you to spend it wisely. You would be wise to not waste the money that people have entrusted to the youth ministry. Making quick decisions is not being a good steward. Throwing money into something you do not need is not being a good steward. Buying something just to look cool is not being a good steward.
Being a good steward of your youth ministry budget will look different for your ministry than it will for mine or the ministry down the street. Only your youth ministry team knows what is truly needed and what is just a want. You need to spend time in prayer asking God to give you wisdom with your budget. You need to talk about your budget with your team, allowing each person the chance to voice his/her opinion about how to be the best stewards of your youth budget. (I also know each person will have their own personal bias as to where the money is spent, and it is the youth minister’s responsibility to discern what is best for the ministry as a whole.)
Being a good steward can also mean you “reduce/reuse/recycle” within your ministry. Is there some curriculum you can rework and use again? Can you rearrange classes to better use the space you have? Does food have to be served at such and such event? Where can you reduce your spending? What materials can you reuse? What materials/ideas can you give away to other ministries?
As you begin thinking about your budget and what it means to be a good steward, keep in mind these Scriptures:
Ps. 24.1 – “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
Lev. 25.23 – “The land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.”
Deuteronomy 6:10-12 – “When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”
Before you assign money to any aspect of your youth ministry, determine what it means for your youth ministry to be good stewards of your resources.