Financial planning. Ugh.

April 18th, 2017

If you share this same sentiment with me, be relieved because the practices we will uncover today are simple. I would dare say they are even easy to do. To be fair, I did not say “easy to implement,” yet it’s not a difficult task once you have adjusted your mindset. The principles this post establishes apply to your personal life as well to youth ministry budgets; I will attempt to reach into both spheres.

Here we go:

Every single dollar that you receive is money received by God’s global Church.

That principle has shaped how I purchase clothes, how I shop for groceries, how I plan youth ministry events. In short, it affects how I live my life completely. Here’s what I mean:

When you receive $10, the kingdom of God has just received $10. Depending on your context, you might need more or less of that $10 so by all means you should cover your expenses as part of God’s global Church. But let’s stop expanding our definition of “covering the expenses” to include the extras we don’t need, expenses which could instead go to feeding and housing our brothers and sisters abroad.

Instead, we will spend less on our own pleasures and more on the needs of others. We will not have youth games which pour $25-100+ and an innumerable amount of materials (chocolate syrup, silly string, baby food, cream pies to the face, etc.) down the tubes just for a few laughs for 5 minutes. We will not go to Nigeria on a mission trip just because it’s a cool experience for our students to “see how good they have it.” Sorry if I just attacked the core of your youth ministry.

Well, what do we spend our money on? Well, let’s be honest, we all know what we could and should spend our money on, but never seem to have enough (missionaries, children, Bibles to hand out, dinners for the homeless, education tools for poorer schools, etc.).

Alright, are we all good with the first principle?! Ok cool, cause here’s the next:

If you need it, buy it. If you don’t, don’t.

In a similar setting to many of you, I grew up with the ability to follow this principle. If I really needed something, the funds were always there to purchase it. But that’s also because I only purchase that which I really need. And no, a fifth pair of jeans does not fit the criteria of need. Nor does going out for lunch or dinner for the second time in as many weeks; pack a lunch and take it to work. Nor does Netflix; your local library has plenty enough to watch. If you’ve exhausted those, then you’ve had enough screen time. Go learn Spanish, go build a fort, or pick up the guitar you’ve been meaning to but “haven’t had the time.”

We need to redefine how we understand “need.”

So here are a few suggestions for how to improve your financial usage:

  • Instead of getting ice cream in a cone from the shop, buy a quart and take it home for the same price and 8 times the servings.
  • Instead of Doritos for $2 and an Arizona for $1, buy a loaf of bread for $1.50 and a mini tub of peanut butter for $2.50 and have meals for days.
  • Shop for clothes at the thrift store instead of wholesale. Bonus – it’s stylish these days to bring back the oldies anyway 🙂
  • Don’t remodel your youth room just because your church has a facilities tab on your budget line, even if that money disappears at the end of the year. Instead, have the students paint verses or depictions of Bible themes for >$20 which turns out to be a great event or two anyway!
  • Never buy pop (soda, coke, etc. depending on your location!). Water is good for everyone everywhere. Make lemonade if you need a variation.

There’s a reason Jesus talked about money more than anything else: He knew we’d need some help. For His words directly, go check out a few passages: Matthew 19:21-26, Mark 4:19, James 5:1-6.

To review:

Every single dollar that you receive is money received by God’s global Church.

If you need it, buy it. If you don’t, don’t.

Comment below what has been effective for your planning. Which areas have you cut? Where have you refocused your personal/ministry expenses?

Ben Cole, a 2014 graduate of the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, has heard his calling from God: “Ben, you are to take the Gospel to the nations.” And he’s done just that! Under the guise as a cyclist, skier, footballer, photographer, missionary and preacher, Ben has seen 43/50 states, numerous countries and 4 continents. Ben carries a love and an excitement for God, prayer and His Word, and is passionate about students experiencing the power that lies within a relationship with God. He now serves as a middle and high school youth pastor in the suburbs of Chicago, a church he’s served with for 4 years.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.