Pastor’s Note – November 14, 2019

Schweitzer UMCPastor's Note


A few weeks ago I started a series in the Pastor’s Note to explain some of the “behind-the-scenes” of the church. I’ve had a lot of people ask me questions about how the church operates, what the Board does, how decisions are made, etc.

In this series, we’ve talked about how the Board is selected, what the Board does, and how are day-to-day decisions made. You can read the previous notes here. This will be my last Pastor’s Note in this series.

Today, we’re going to talk about everyone’s favorite topic: money. Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about the church budget.

First, let’s talk about what’s in the budget.

Our annual church budget is a little under $2.25 million. The church budget handles everything that runs the operations of the church. We also have designated giving (for special projects, like the HVAC project) that are not included in this budget. Here’s a chart breakdown of our annual budget.

A few things about our budget breakdown:

  • The categories for Discipleship (kids, students, and adults), Worship, Facilities, and Office do not include the salaries of the people leading those ministries. This is just the program cost of those ministries.
  • You’ll notice our highest categories are for salaries, both for staff and pastors. This is normal for a church. Best practice is for staff salaries to be between 50-60% of a church’s budget. We’re on the high side, but still within the range.
  • Outreach is a small number on our overall budget, but we fund this through additional sources than the operating budget (such as the Christmas Eve offering).
  • Apportionments is the money we send to the United Methodist Church.

Second, let’s talk about how we form the budget.

We are currently working on the 2020 budget. With a new pastor, the process for forming the budget is a bit different than in years past. As I approach budget, here are the questions I’m asking:

  • What is God calling us to do? For me, this always needs to be our first question. When we get this question right, we can trust that he will provide for us in all we do. We have spent considerable time with the Board and with staff in thinking and praying through specific goals and objectives for 2020. These specific goals are priority in budgeting. I’ll share more about those goals in a few weeks.
  • What do we anticipate our revenue to be? For me, this is the second question and not the first. To forecast revenues, we look at several factors: attendance patterns, giving patterns, history, special circumstances in the year ahead, etc. We run on a tight margin with very little “extra” in the budget.
  • What are the unavoidable expenses? There is a simple cost of doing business as a church. For instance, we know we have to keep the lights on. We then factor in those costs.
  • Where can we save money? Are there places of ministry that were not as fruitful as we hoped, or ministries that won’t cost as much in 2020 as they did in 2019?

If you have more questions about the budget or anything else I wrote about in this series, I’d be glad to help answer.

This Sunday will be part 3 of our series called Enough as we explore the connection between generosity and contentment.

I can’t wait to see you Sunday!