The Sunday School year has just started in many churches. School has resumed. A few early leaves are changing colors. Football has started. And it is already time to plan your Sunday School budget for next year.
A budget can be a tool that enables you to carry out effective, life-changing Sunday School work. Here is a scenario I have seen happen frequently: A new Sunday School director is presented to the church for a vote in August and begins work in September. The budget is presented in November. The new director without prior experience has to begin work on the budget as soon as he/she starts. Frequently the new director doesn’t even know that this is one of his/her responsibilities when enlisted.
I like how Norma Goldman defines a budget in an article entitled Steps to Creating a Sunday School Budget: “A budget is a statement of commitment, reflecting what is intended to be accomplished in a certain period of time.” Wow, that is a great set of phrases! In a revolutionary Sunday School, there are several questions that need to be answered before you prepare a budget that contributes toward the life-change you desire.
- First, when should prayer and planning begin? In the case of a transition of leadership by the director, ideally the outgoing director and/or other leaders would pray about and plan the budget and then explain it to the new director. Most budgets reflect 12 months of time. Many start in January, but some start at other times. Give yourself enough time to pray, plan, and present your budget.
- Second, what do you intend to accomplish during the months covered by the budget? (Or even better, what does God want you to accomplish?) Ideally, at least by the second week of September, the pastor, director, and Sunday School leaders have an extended time (such as a retreat) of prayer and planning about the year ahead. Such effort will naturally result in plans, goals, and priorities which need to be funded.
- Third, what will plans cost? A few of the plans to be addressed may include the following: How many classes will be started? What training efforts will be offered? Will planning meetings and the planning retreat require some financial resources? How will you appreciate your teachers/leaders? Will curriculum cost and pieces increase? What supplies will be needed? Are equipment and space improvements needed? Do your best to estimate the full cost of your plans, goals, and priorities.
- Fourth, what is the best way to present your statement of commitment (budget)? Such presentation depends largely on the policies and practices of the church, but prayer is always in order. If you have prayed and prepared the budget with your pastor and leadership team, you might want to ask them to accompany you in order to answer any questions of the budget committee/team.
- Fifth, how did you do last year? In the article I referenced earlier, Norma says, “Track your success.” Did you spend more than you budgeted last year on curriculum? Did you overspend the budgeted amount for the year? Answering this question can also help you in your prayerful presentation of the budget.
For additional help with praying about, planning, and presenting a life-changing budget, you might want to look at the book, Basic Budgeting for Churches. Also, check out this article about budgeting on the web. It is worthy of a look. You can also find it in the book 10 Best Practices. Pray. Prepare. Present. Budget for life-change this year! Be revolutionary!