Budgets are, or should be, clear statements of intent. They’re a critical part of strategy execution. Your church cannot (or should never) run without them. I’m no finance expert but I can tell you that you don’t need money to draw up a budget. It is about what you want to accomplish and how. This is where strategy (what / end goal) and the means (how) come together. And, as with anything else in church life, church tech must never be left out in budgeting. Church tech budgeting, and this includes the expenditure, must never be an afterthought.
Why We Budget
Often, church tech is an afterthought when it comes to expenditure. It is sad that sometimes we only end up spending money when we have no a choice at all. When something breaks, and the church is stuck, then spending happens. A budget is about forethought–planning ahead.
Budgeting will help you set priorities when it comes to expenditure. Maintenance of equipment, for example, can cost less now than replacing equipment later. Creating a budget helps you keep in sight the important things to bring attention to in a given period. A financial one in this case.
Having a budget, particularly for tech, can help your church avoid unnecessary spending. A great guard for that impulse buy. You know how you can put together a strong motivation for a recent gadgets or tech? (Yeah, I see you church geeks!) For different reasons, some purchases are not the wisest in some moments.
Budgets are also a matter of stewardship. Through them, we answer the question, “What would you do if entrusted with $X?” They are a means of reflection. Why do we need a particular item? If we do, do we have to spend that much on it? What alternatives do we have?
Revisiting licenses renewals or subscriptions can help us avoid unnecessary spending. Auto-renewals are a good example. Are you still paying for software or services you don’t use anymore?
If understood and appreciated well, setting budgets can be a team-building exercises. A time of clarifying what the church is pursuing at a given time. Everyone can share what they see and why it is important to set aside resources for them.
Church Tech Budgeting And Expenditure Considerations
Mission, Identity, and Values
All spending or use of resources must have an anchor in the mission, identity and values of your church. If we can’t tie our expenditure to any of these three things, it possible there’s abuse or misuse of resources. This can’t be overemphasized–it should never be a difficult task to connect what you spent on with the ‘why’. If you had no other criteria for what to spend on, this would be it.
The Most ‘Expensivest’
Churches compromise mission when they resign to inaction because they don’t have something. This is common where, for whatever reason, they feel they need a particular tool with a hefty price tag. If you have the funds to get something pricier gear and such, get it. I don’t need to restate the importance of being good stewards.
Higher price tag is not always synonymous with best quality or solution. The opposite can also be true. It is wisdom to make sure we have done all we can to explore possible solutions.
Where I’m getting–sometimes you might have to compromise. Instead of your preferred too,l you might have to settle for something inferior. That is, in price and quality. Staying in the same vein, you don’t always need to upgrade or get the latest because it is now available.
Sometimes we don’t have a financial constraint but a creativity challenge. When the church’s needs or wants exceed its funds it might be time to be creative.
“Good enough” is not a bad place to settle when you have little to spend.
It might be worth your while to have a ‘blue-sky’ and a ‘grounded’ budget alternative as you work on your plans. You should be able to answer, “What would, or could you do with ‘this much’ money?” Whether a large or small sum, every team or ministry leader should be able to give a decent answer.
The English (bless their hearts) have a saying, “Don’t be Penny wise and Pound foolish”. Where resource constraints exist, it is easy to always get the cheapest. We sometimes disguise going cheap as going for the “cost effective” alternatives. There are times not going for more costly and better quality ends up costing us more.
The issue is never the price tag. The thing we must always pay attention to is what value is attached to the price tag. Some price tags cost more because you are getting more. More on warranty, service, support and other value in the longer term.
Plan and spend for the future and not the present.
I have serious doubt on whether it’s possible to have something of great quality, cheap. Having said this. Be vigilant.
Some leaders think they’re being good stewards by not spending. This is not exactly true. You can be a bad steward by spending irresponsibly, and not spending at all. Remember Jesus’ parable of the talents? The guy who never spent was the most in trouble.
Spending money and other resources is necessary to enable the church’s mission. We need to make sure that we spend in a wise way.
Cue the organ, let me preach a little here: Why would God put more resources in our hands when they’re full? If we’re not using what we have, why are we asking for more. We can’t be captive by fear of not having that we end up misers or not spending at all.
Regardless of how much we have, the reality is that we will need to spend.
The point of this post is / was simple: To encourage you to have a budget. Church tech budgeting should be a normal and regular exercise for church tech teams and churches. This forethoughtfulness means nothing is an afterthought (LOL). Budgeting encourages us to be mindful of how we expend resources entrusted to us.
Mission, identity, values and strategy of the church are important anchors. It must be easy to connect all plans and expenditure to them.
Have a budget, spend money to move the mission of the church forward, do it with great care.