Imagine if you had unlimited money and resources to spend on your youth ministry…No, remove that thought. I imagine in the end it wouldn’t be good for you and your students to try and do ministry and steward such a gift. But if you’re reading this post, then you most likely have some money for your youth ministry and we want you to steward it well. Here are five line items you might not be thinking about, but you need for your next budget.
If your goal in student ministry is to mobilize students to pursue authentic faith and discover a personal mission, then does your budget reflect this goal? Yes, you probably have a budget set aside for curriculum and events, but if a student came to you with a God-given gift, do you have anything set aside specifically to mobilize that student? Maybe this year you add a budget line item specifically designated for developing your student leaders.
For years, we have had a volunteer appreciation line item in our budget. Volunteers are the lifeblood of any ministry and we need to make them feel appreciated for their time and efforts. While volunteer appreciation is valuable, what if we set aside some of the appreciation money to equip the leaders to do ministry? What if, instead of giving them a trinket to show our appreciation, we gave them some gift cards to take students to grab coffee? What if it didn’t cost them anything to attend school events or we covered the cost of snacks when that teenager raids their cabinets? I know my leaders would feel appreciated and equipped if I just made and communicated this minor change.
Churches don’t always have the best of reputations. Jeff Henderson at Gwinnett Church says that the church is often known for what it is against rather than what it supports. Imagine if everyone in your local elementary school knew that your youth ministry was for them? Yes, this would take some time and strategy, and my guess, a couple of dollars to pull it off, but maybe today you could start by simply buying some donuts for the FCA group. Or maybe, when the teachers are stress out about testing, you cater a meal. Whether or not the students are stepping foot into your youth ministry, show them the love of Christ and open the door for them to see there is a loving place that is for them.
RETREAT / SEMINAR / CONFERENCE
I’m sure you’ve noticed how the days just keep on coming. The moment you finish one program or event, the next one’s just around the corner. It’s no wonder many youth pastors burn out. Ministry is hard and often youth leaders are lonely. Something your soul needs is time away and time with other people that get it. It’s a big investment for a church to make in sending their youth pastor to a conference, but the cost of hiring a replacement is so much higher. You might not be able to convince your board to make this happen overnight but maybe you can make a plan to get yourself to a conference within the next year or two.
RESOURCES AND BOOKS
In many careers continuing education is required to maintain good standing in the workplace but for some reason, many youth pastors can’t even buy a book to educate themselves. This year, how about asking if you could set aside money to buy a book every month. If this get’s turned down, maybe you could ask to be reimbursed for any ministry book you actually finish reading. You need to sharpen your ax, especially when it comes to leading this next generation. Ask for it, but for real, if it doesn’t get approved, skip a coffee or two and make it happen yourself. You need this.