Recently I started driving differently. It all started with a special on one of the major networks. They had a "gas specialist" (I thought that was funny too) who instructed a family for one week on how to drive differently to save money on gas, and they did. When the network checked back for an update three months later, the family actually had an average monthly savings of more than $200.
Some of the tips were simple; when starting stay below 2000 RPM's controlling your starts and stops, put the car in neutral when sitting at a light, don't use the air conditioning when it's not necessary, combine trips, and drive the posted speed limit. These tips have allowed me to save money on gas and become more responsible in how I drive. I am a better steward of my finances because I have been educated and have a greater understanding of how to save.
The same is true when it comes to our ministry budgets and how we steward them (steward = a person who is appointed to manage or look after another persons property or possessions). In order to be good stewards of our ministry and budget we need to know our purpose, vision and priorities. We also need to know where to invest the finances entrusted to us for a maximum impact; this could be for spiritual growth and health, outreach or both. Just like driving, we can keep some of the following tips in mind to keep our spending in check:
Assemble a team of leaders to help determine where and how much to spend.
Spending money on an event or ministry doesn't guarantee it will be effective; sometimes the best programs are the cheapest ones.
What resources can you share with another ministry in the church? Are there other churches in your community you could partner with?
Stay within your allotted budget. Financial planners encourage families not to spend more than they bring in; this is a great way to plan for your ministry expenditures as well.
Keep spending records and meet with a member of your churches finance committee monthly to keep accountability.
When necessary, charge or increase the cost of events that always seem to lose money. It may also be time to "pull the plug" on some events or programs. Talk to your volunteer and leadership team before making these decisions.
I found that making changes in the way I drive have caused some people to get frustrated and impatient with me, this is especially true when slowly accelerating at a stop light in the middle of down town Orlando during rush hour. The same is true of any change you make. Tightening a budget can cause tension and frustrations, be upfront with why and how you plan to implement the change and encourage people to pray for strength in the ministry. Stay the course and follow the plan you create for your ministry budget. I think you will be amazed at how much money you can save.
Lives are not changed because of the finances we have or the size of our budgets, they are changed by the power of the Holy Spirit who still works in spit of the economy!