So how do you maintain margin in a church planting budget?
1. Plan to teach. The biggest impact on a church planting budget is the local offering. The goal is to become self-sufficient financially and to build margin over time. The only way to do this is to disciple believers to give financially. Start doing this during prelaunch. Teach your launch team to give. Make giving a part of the launch team expectations. This will significantly help create a generosity DNA in the church. Don’t shy away from giving in your sermons and teaching after launch.
2. Plan for margin. When you create a budget for the new church, don’t allow the cash in the bank to fall below one month’s operating expenses.
3. Plan for failure. There will be times when you fall below the goals you set for margin in a budget. Plan ahead and determine how you will handle it. How will financial decisions change? What expenses can be cut when it happens?
4. Plan to save. The expenses of a church can be broken into three broad categories: staffing, facilities and ministry. Staffing and facilities are fixed expenses, meaning that you know what they are going to be each month. That means the only flexible category is ministry. When things get tight, you will have to cut from ministry first. Unless you have planned to save.
Add a line item to the budget for savings. Even if you are only saving a small percentage of the budget, it will help. When times get tough, you’ll have a little money set aside for it, and if things get bad you can cut the savings line in the budget before cutting ministries.
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