I like how an article (Steps to Creating a Sunday School Budget) by Norma Goldman defines a 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 can prepare a budget that contributes toward the life-change you intend.
Most budgets reflect 12 months of time. Many start in January, but some start during other months. Give yourself enough time to pray, plan, and present your budget.
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 should work on the budget as soon as he/she starts, but frequently the new director is not even told that this is one of his/her responsibilities.
- When to begin. So, the first question to ask is this one: 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.
- What will be accomplished? The next question to be considered is this one: What do you intend to accomplish during the months covered by the budget? (Or even better, what does God want you to accomplish?) For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume the director from last year has agreed to serve in the coming year. Ideally, at least by the second week of September, the pastor, director, and Sunday School leaders have had an extended time (retreat?) of prayer and planning about the year ahead. Such effort will naturally produce plans, goals, and priorities which need to be funded. A few of the questions to be addressed may include the following: How many classes will be started? What training efforts will be offered? 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.
- How to present. Then, 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.
- How’d we do? I want to add a fourth question. How did you do last year? Again, in the article I referenced earlier Norma Goldman says, “Track your success.” That can also help in your prayerful presentation of your 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 a revolution this year!