As a whole, our culture is pretty good at wasting money. We as consumers waste a ton of it, and, sadly, the church hasn’t escaped this unpleasant budget blight. We tend to waste money in our churches, too. Here are eight ways that your church might be wasting money.
8 Ways You Might Be Wasting Church Money
Right off the bat, you need to understand that not every point below is going to apply to every church. For example, your church may prefer to use hymnals, which is fine (see point 1). Second, many of these points have philosophy of ministry moorings, not just economic ramifications. So, perhaps the best way to think about money and how not to waste it, is to think about ministry philosophy, and how your ministry spending matches your ministry goals.
But, without further ado, here are eight ways your church may be wasting money.
- Your church might be wasting money if you use hymnals instead of a projector. Hymnals are expensive—from around ten bucks to twenty bucks a copy. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but order enough for a small church, and you’re out $1500. Plus, hymnals tear up, get lost, and get doodled on. Replacement and maintenance costs make the life-term cost of a hymnal even higher. The simple and cost-effective solution is to purchase an overhead projector to display song lyrics. Much easier. Much cheaper.
- Your church might be wasting money if you are printing copious amounts of color bulletins. I was shocked when I performed a recent study on church printing costs. The average church spends right around $10,000 on printing each year. That’s a ton of money. Church bulletins may be a staple of your church service, but do you need fancy color bulletins every Sunday? Perhaps you can print a small black and white bulletin most Sundays, and a color bulletin for special occasions. Perhaps you can scale down on your quality of paper. Whatever the case, you can probably find some ways to trim the fat from your printing endeavors.
- Your church might be wasting money if you are hiring extra staff. If your church is growing by leaps and bounds, then it is entirely necessary to hire additional staff to keep up with the growth. However, you should be careful to consider both the need and the cost of a new staff member. Think about the possibility of recruiting volunteer help rather than making a new hire.
- Your church might be wasting money if you purchase fog machines and other expensive stage equipment. There is no problem at all with purchasing high-quality musical instruments and sound equipment. The quality and longevity of such purchases is usually worth the price. However, there are some purchases that are just not necessary. Fog machines, for example, are probably a waste of money. A laser show is probably a waste of money. And a collection of handbells is probably a waste of money.
- Your church might be wasting money if you are launching another church activity. Churches who implement a lot of activities should think long and hard before starting the next one. Excessive church activities can deplete spiritual health and overall morale, plus they can also cost dearly. Purchasing a new curriculum, requiring extra building space, and extra vehicle usage, plus whatever other costs are associated, ends up with a pretty hefty total. Make sure that the program is in line with your church mission and vision.
- Your church might be wasting money if you are offering lots of free food for one and all. Church meals are not at all a bad thing. In fact, it is quite likely that the early church took some meals together beyond the observance of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:46; Jude 12). If your church hosts meals, that’s wonderful, but you may not need to provide the entire meal with all the fixin’s. That can get expensive. Instead, try the potluck method, the bring-your-own entree method, the bring-your-own plates and flatware method, or some variation on a theme. There are creative ways to cut costs without losing the true value of having a church meal.
- Your church might be wasting money if you purchase an expensive website. I’ve watched churches blow $30,000 on a single website. Folks, that’s just too much. Plus, beyond the upfront costs, churches spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to maintain the use of the site! A church website is very important, but today, few churches need to spend gobs of money to get one. You can purchase a very nice website, complete with media and great graphics, for far less. Consider Sharefaith church websites as an alternative. The price of the website is free, and the monthly hosting cost is negligible.
- Your church might be wasting money if you’re over-using the church building. For some ministries, the church building is an ever-active place. Every day of the week there are activities, classes, meetings, etc. For others churches, during the week the building is host to a few offices for the pastors or admins. If this is the case, you can save a considerable amount of money by changing the climate settings, turning off the lights, and vacating the building. Do your work at home. Using a home office rather than the church building isn’t going to save thousands, but it will make a small difference in recurring maintenance and utility costs.