Budgeting and ministry are like oil and water. At least, that’s how it seems. As a Pastor, you’ve got big dreams and plans for your church. People to reach, sermons to preach, and more. You don’t want a budget to hinder you or tie your team down.
What if it doesn’t have to?
A well-crafted budget should enable your ministry, not hinder it.
As bookkeepers and accountants for churches, we are often asked: What are healthy budget percentages for a church to have?
Let’s Cut to the Chase – What is a Healthy Church Budget Breakdown?
The more money you spend on ministry and missions, the better. That is the purpose of the church, so they deserve a sizable slice of the pie. Making that happen requires intentionality and a plan.
Church budgets typically consist of these six main categories: staffing, facilities, operations, missions, ministry and savings. Certain categories, such as missions and ministry, can be combined, depending on your church’s preferences/needs. Generally speaking, these are the categories we like to see.
For those wanting quick stats with less words, here’s the long and short of it:
As a rule-of-thumb, these are the percentages we suggest:
- Staffing: 35-50%
- Facilities: 10-35%
(The goal is for these two to amount to roughly 60-70% of the budget combined.)
- Operations: 5-15%
- Ministry and Missions: 25%
- Savings: This depends on what you already have saved up. Scroll down to the “Savings” section to read more.
These percentages plus our Church Budgeting Toolkit will give you the tools you need to create a budget that works and align your finances with the vision God’s given you. If doing it yourself sounds too intimidating, no problemo! Our Advance Services team would love to help.
Staffing & Facilities
These two categories take up the largest portion of the proverbial pie at 60-70%, and for good reason. If America runs on Dunkin’, churches run on staff members. Your team is pivotal to seeing your church’s vision come to life. Similarly, your building houses your ministries and is the jumping off point for your missions, so funds need to be allocated in order to steward it well.
This category can include a variety of items such as office supplies, event materials, insurance, and maintenance for that scary looking church van that’s been sitting in your parking lot for decades. We recommend this category should only account for roughly 5-15% percent of the budget.
Ministries & Missions
As previously mentioned, these categories can be combined or separated. The term ‘ministries’ typically includes internal efforts, such as children’s, worship and youth. Whereas, missions are defined as opportunities to serve outside of your four walls, such as local outreach programs, sending missionaries, etc. This is where the rubber meets the road in the eyes of most, where the vision of the church is lived out. Because of this, it’s best to allocate at least 25% to these areas. (As a side note – your staffing, facilities, and operations all exist to support the ministries and mission of the church. So even though they are separated out in your finances, they are part of your ministry and missions.)
As accountants, we highly recommend having 3 to 6 months reserved in your savings account. If you don’t have this or are working toward it, carving out space in your budget is crucial. Living month-to-month can limit your ability to do what God is calling you to do.
Are you the set-it-and-forget-it type? Then maybe start with allocating 10%. If your church is growing and you’re seeing a little extra funding come through the door, you could also put that extra toward savings.
Put Your Dollars on MissionAt this point, you might be thinking: What budget percentages are right for my church? How do I know if my budget is aligned with my church’s mission? We recommend starting with our Dollar-on-Mission Assessment. It’s a no commitment, free self-check that walks you through a few questions about your church’s financial stewardship. At the end, you’ll receive a personalized report that gives you a 360° overview of your financial leadership along with some recommendations on how best to move forward.
See more articles about Church Budgeting.