There are very few things that are simple or easy about church planting and budget planning isn’t one of them. Despite the tricky nature of planning a budget for an entity that has yet to exist, it is most certainly an essential task if one wants a fighting chance of succeeding.
Developing your budget will likely be a collaborative effort between the lead pastor, church leaders, an accountant or even a church planting organization. By creating a budget that reflects your vision for the church, you all know your expectations, limits and goal to be good stewards of your resources.
Budget planning and fundraising go hand in hand. Before you begin parsing out the details of your budget, you must round up support expectations. For example, you will receive support from a core group of attendees, new attendees, special gifts, and special occasions, etc. You will have supporters who can make one-time gifts, large and small, and others who can contribute on an ongoing basis. In addition, you may find support from a parent church or other churches in your area.
In addition to your support expectations, you will also outline your expenses. Church plants have expenses that generally fall into the following categories.
How many staff will you hire? Will they be fully supported or will they need to augment their salary somehow? Will you hire a full staff immediately or hire more as you go along? Staffing costs are ongoing.
Most new church plants don’t have their own worship facilities or office space. It is common for new church plants to rent space for worship, like movie theaters, schools, or community centers. Common facilities costs are facility rent, office rent, and utilities. Facilities costs are ongoing.
While equipment costs are not necessarily ongoing, it’s not an insignificant cost. Some examples of equipment purchases are office equipment, portable sound system, portable lighting system, projectors, bibles, paper supplies, carts and cabinets, and a trailer for storage.
Outreach expenses should start at the beginning and continue on with the life of the church. Outreach could be short-term and short-reaching, or long-term and long-reaching. Examples of outreach expenses are mission giving, community events, and community programs and services. Outreach is an ongoing cost.
The new church plant consumes. Ongoing operating expenses may include things like office supplies, leadership development, and insurance. Operation costs are ongoing.
You can find a helpful free budget tool, sample budgets and more tips at www.freechurchaccounting.com
The Start of Good Stewardship
Once you create your budget, remember that good stewardship really starts with good accounting and internal controls. Set up an accounting software that is simple and easy to use and a protocol to control all money coming in and going out of the organization that has multiple financially-minded individuals reviewing the records. I recommend Aplos Software’s church accounting software, which is specifically designed with new churches in mind and includes a Budgeting app. Plus, Aplos offers new churches 6 months for free, so there is really no reason not to give it a try.
Remember, budgets help your leaders and members understand the vision and expectations. Plus, the transparency and accountability of good stewardship will improve the trust your membership has in the financial stability and integrity of the new church.