Youth Ministry Myths: Part 2 – You Need A Big Budget

In my previous post, I talked about the myth that centers around how great facilities do not equal great ministry. Today, I want to look at the myth of budgets. The myth is simple:

The bigger the budget I have, the better the ministry will be. Right?

This is simply not true. 

I live and minister in South East Michigan which has been hit hard economically in recent years. In addition, I grew up in the England where youth ministry and churches work on a shoe-string. In fact, when I came to the States 12 years ago, I was amazed by how many resources were at hand for youth workers. Most of my friends in the UK run their ministries on a fraction of what I have to work with…

In many ways, I feel greatly blessed that I have never had a massive budget and I was able to discover the blessings of ministering to students with limited resources. And, here’s what I have discovered:

1) We See God Provide: A huge blessing of not having a large budget has been letting students see how God provides in times of need. It’s an incredible teachable moment when we can tell students how God provided for their mission trip or an important ministry item…

2) We Focus on Relationships: A “blessing” of frugal budget situations means that we cannot do so many of the events that require greater finances. Often the alternatives are simple, cost effective,  but most importantly, they  can be highly relational. BBQ’s, home Bible studies, bonfires, water fights, dodgeball, local retreats, etc, are cheaper and often create wonderful opportunities to build relationships. I have often found the more expensive events will bring the same result and as a cheaper one. Why spend the extra cash? Save the money, build relationships, and gain favor with your finance committee and Senior Pastor…

3) We Include Our Church Family In Greater Ways: One of the blessings of having a smaller budget means that we have to rely on the families of our church in greater ways. This is huge and should not be taken lightly! Relying on our church family means they become integrally involved and gain an inside track to what is happening in the lives of students. Ultimately, they become crucial owners of the ministry and vision. Therefore, it’s imperative that we partner with families in greater ways and do not see ourselves independent from them. God will often provide timely resources through our church family who have caught the vision due to their involvement. 

4) It Creates Great Innovation: Another blessing of having smaller budgets is the growth of innovation and the fruit that comes from out of the box thinking. Here in the Detroit Metro area I have seen some  ministry friends do some wildly brilliant things that God has blessed. They would tell you that much of their innovation would not have come without the desperate economic situation.

5) We Depend on Him: Lastly, but most importantly, it’s all about an incredible God who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or ever imagine. God does not want us to have it all. He wants us to depend on Him and see the way only He can provide… 

It’s easy to buy the myth that bigger budgets equal greater ministry results. However, in my experience, it’s always better to depend on God, focus on relationships, and involve families in the process. I believe that our dependence on Him and involvement of families can create the greatest ministry “results”… 

What are some of your stories of God providing for your ministry? How do you do ministry on a small budget? What blessings have you encountered when working on a small budget?

Phil <><

2 Responses to Youth Ministry Myths: Part 2 – You Need A Big Budget

  1. Matt Murphy August 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    I’ve served at churches with rather small budgets. The only limits we had from my perception was the imagination of the youth pastor and the youth workers surrounding them. I put on great events like lock ins, digital scavenger hunts that teens still IM me about and share about. I love youth ministry. Think its a great thing, especially when your not trying to be disney world.

  2. Phil Bell August 10, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    @Matt: Like this Matt: “The only limits we had from my perception was the imagination of the youth pastor and the youth workers surrounding them…” That’s usually the issue with all of us isn’t it? We put limits on what we think we can do based on things like budget and facilities. I am not sure students care too much for Disney youth ministries these days…

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