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August 25, 2016

Budgeting, Love it or Loathe it?

By Daniel Im

Every month, Plus Members get video enhanced training from Ministry Grid on topics like leadership, ministry systems, residencies, multiplication, church planting, and multisite.  In this training video, Brian Dodridge, Executive Pastor at Brentwood Baptist Church, discusses four simple steps to creating a budget. 

*Plus Members can watch this entire Video Training by logging in and clicking here.

Budgeting, Love it or Loathe it?  

Looking back on my seminary training, I don’t recall ever taking a class on budgeting. The only budgeting experience I had prior to ministry was personal. I’m sure you can relate. As a result, many find themselves overwhelmed with having to create a budget. Or, if they’re not overwhelmed, they take a stab at creating a budget, but don’t really know what they’re doing.

Brian Dodridge, Executive Pastor at Brentwood Baptist Church, recently discussed four simple guidelines to creating a budget.

1. Start from Scratch

Even if you are a veteran in ministry budgeting, don’t assume anything. According to Brian, it’s helpful and freeing to approach budgeting from a clean slate rather than simply copying and pasting last year’s budget. This allows you to think afresh—to dream—for the upcoming budget and what you believe God would have you to accomplish.

As you think through the upcoming year, and you begin to chart your goals and dreams, Brian encourages you to divide your spending into three categories: A) Money you “need” to spend, B) Money you “should” spend, and C) Money that would be “nice” to spend. For instance, if you are a student pastor and you’re budgeting for a camp, transportation might be a “need” to expenditure, paying for leaders might be a “should” do expenditure, and purchasing crazy glow sticks and fireworks would be a “nice” to do expenditure.

2. Look at Past Spending Patterns

Once you have drafted your budget, then it’s helpful to go back and look at past spending patterns to help you hone in on what your specific budget numbers should be. Some might wonder why you don’t do this first. Because if you start with past spending patterns, you might be tempted to go the lazy route when it comes to planning for the future and growth.

For instance, if you look at your past spending history on curriculum, you might be tempted to carry over that number into the next year’s budget for the sake of time. However, that budget number may only reflect 12 small groups—the current number of small groups in existence—rather than 15, the amount you’re planning to have by the end of next year’s budget. Thus, if you just carry over the number from last year’s budget you may find yourself not having enough funds to facilitate the growth you are praying for.

What about budgeting for facility usage? Can’t we just look at the past history and carry that number over, while budgeting a little more for inflation? You can. But once again, it’s important to look at it from a clean slate. I know of one church that was planning on partnering with a YMCA youth basketball league to allow them to use their facilities in an effort bless the community. Obviously, this partnership would require more budget—energy, water, and wear and tear—within the facility line item for three months. But if they would have just carried the budget over from the previous year they may not have had enough money budgeted in that line item, and as a result, would have showed an overage at the end of the year.

Therefore, looking at past spending patterns helps project future budgeting. But remember, your past spending patterns are only a tool to help hone the creation of the coming budget! 

To read the final two points of creating a budget, click here for the full video and post.

This video is part of Plus Membership, so to get full access to it, and much more, I encourage you to become a Plus Member. In fact, when you become a Plus Member, you will even get access to our Church Finance and Budgets Ready-to-Use-Resources package, which includes 15 downloadables and templates to help you budget. Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a Plus Member.


  • Even if you are a veteran in ministry budgeting, don’t assume anything. Start with a clean slate. @BrianDodridge
  • Use these categories in budgeting: $ you “need” to spend, $ you “should” spend, & $ that would be “nice” to spend. @BrianDodridge
  • Looking at past spending patterns first might lead to budgeting laziness, which might hinder future growth.
  • A budget communicates ultimately reflects the mission and vision of your church & your specific ministry area.
  • A budget may be filled w/numbers, but it forms a road map for where the church is going in the coming year. 
  • When it comes to budgeting monies that aren’t yours, but God’s, it’s important to create boundaries. @BrianDodridge


Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Senior Associate Pastor of Beulah Alliance Church, a multiplying multisite church focused on reaching 1% of Edmonton for Christ. His latest book is You Are What You Do: And Six Other Lies about Work, Life, and Love. He is also the author of No Silver Bullets and co-author of Planting Missional Churches. He co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, as well as the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Because of their love for the local church, after pioneering and leading the church multiplication initiative for LifeWay, Daniel and his wife, Christina, moved back to Canada with their three children. For more information, visit danielim.com and follow him on social media @danielsangi.


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