Stop asking how much my youth budget is.
When I was in Chicago for SYMC Josh and I were chatting about budgets over steaks and a blue cheese wedge (which I had never seen or heard of until then) and we were batting around the complexity of budgeting and the fact that there its really tough to compare one church to another. But it never surprises me how the question of “how much is your youth budget?” is never far away when talking among Youth Pastors. My Church is mid-sized (2,000 people) but many of the Churches around us are smaller and talking about youth budgeting can become an apples and oranges conversation unless you crunch the numbers down to a comparable figure.
I have learned that when we talk about your budget is to never talk about the total, because unless you have the exact same size ministry, the numbers won’t really matter. Its much easier to have these conversations when you calculate dollars per active student. I would suggest that contrary to what Mark Devries (Sustainable Youth Ministry) argues, that a figure that excludes your salary is better because, salaries can be very different; even regionally, and in a single Youth Pastor setting that difference can skew the figures. And lets face it, it also keeps us from doing a head count at each others youth group and trying to crunch the numbers to figure out what each other make.
When I polled the Youth Ministries in my area, my other Youth Pastor friends were shocked when my quick survey revealed that their budgeting had between $110 and $175 per student per year and me at the “big church” was $48. It is really easy to be jealous when you hear what some youth ministries have for budget because you hear the total number, but the reality is that when you do the math its probably not nearly as rosy as you think.
So I guess what I am getting at is, if you want to have a great conversation with other youth pastors about money, maybe ask them how much they budget per student. Asking this way will result in less discouragement and allow for discussion of vision, value and purpose instead of, WHOA!, they give you how much?!?!?!
Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.