Youth Ministry Budgeting: Categories (2a of 5)


(This is the second part in a 5 part series on youth ministry budgeting, which has been split it into two posts due to its length. Others posts include: stewardship.)

Once you understand the point that its not your money, then you are ready to start putting the budget together. Putting the budget together will take time, or it should take time if you do not rush through it. In the next part of this series, we will go into more details on a typical process for youth ministry budgets. Right now I want to look at some of the categories you will want to include in your proposed budget (and some reasoning or thoughts behind each one).

Possible Budget Categories:
1. Curriculum
This would include books and materials, for both teacher and students, for any learning environment your ministry offers. The fourth post in this series will have a more in depth discussion on whether to write your own curriculum or buy it. If you buy curriculum, do not let the curriculum determine what you teach – let your lesson scope and sequence determine your curriculum. Know what topic or Scripture you want to cover and look for curriculum that matches that topic. Once you have found a good assortment of choices, take the time to look over each one. Take the time to evaluate, compare and determine which one would work best for your situation. Be mindful of the students and the teachers, do not just pick the one you like best or which one happens to be the newest material available.

When you are thinking about what curriculum to order/create, do not limit yourself to just a 13 week set of material. I know it goes against a lot of what is commonly offered, but I think the best way to present material is to cover the topic as best as you can. That means, if you only need three weeks to do that, do not stretch it to four for the sake of filling an entire month. If you need five months, then plan for five months. Finally, do not forget to include resources like movie clips, videos, books, and cds when you are budgeting for curriculum.

2. Scholarships
Mainly, I am talking about scholarships for the students to attend camp, retreat or conference – not to go to Six Flags or the beach. I have seen scholarships handled very differently by different churches. When it comes to budgeting, it is really an all or nothing category, you can either include them or not include them. In my first ministry, we did not include scholarship money in the youth ministry budget. All scholarship money was donated by individuals for a specific student. Then I went to a church where over 1/2 of our youth ministry budget was set aside for scholarship money. The church paid 1/2 the cost of every camp or trip a student attended, plus the adults were covered through this money.

In my opinion, helping a student get to a week of camp is a better use of money than buying a new video projector.

3. Volunteer Appreciation
This is a huge category. You cannot have a healthy youth ministry without quality adults. The youth ministry leader needs to be showing appreciation to those who put so much time, energy, and money into student ministry. Ideas for spending this money might include: candy, cards, books, gift cards, movie tickets, gas cards, or baby sitting money. Know your youth coaches well enough to be able to know what they would appreciate. Here are some ideas I have shared on appreciating youth workers (which can apply just the same to your youth coaches).

4. Staff Training
Staff training should include attending a youth ministry conference. There are multiple day options: YS’s NYWC, Lifeway’s LNYWC, SYM/Group’s NYMC. As well as one day options: YS One Day, Catalyst. It should also include material for ongoing training within your ministry setting. If you want to go through a youth ministry book with your youth coaches, it is a good idea to buy each of them a copy. Do not make your youth coaches buy their own copy, unless there is no way your ministry can afford it. Ongoing training will help everyone stay on the same page and help them feel better prepared to minister to the students.

5. Food
This category could include food for weekly events (donuts, chips, soda, pizza) as well as making possible those last minute decisions to include food for something. Providing food and drinks are great ways to help visitors feel comfortable and give them something to do when they do not know anyone else.

If you cannot afford to budget much money for this category, you might want to try having a sign-up for students/parents to bring food for events.

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