I had to smile a little after I typed in the title for this post: …An Underfunded Children’s Ministry – as if there’s any other kind, right? I served in 4 churches and 3 of them were drastically underfunded. The 4th was about where it should be, but certainly still limited.
Virtually all of us who lead in Children’s Ministry have to deal with this dilemma – how do we pursue our vision when the funds are limited? And I know there is a very good chance that, not only is that true of your situation, but it’s also probably an understatement. You are probably leading a ministry that is drastically underfunded.
How do you deal with that problem? Here are a few things I learned along the way:
1. Get over it.
Early on, I remember being very upset by the fact that the youth ministry had essentially the same budget as children’s ministry. But they had 1/4 of the kids, a tenth of the volunteers – and they didn’t even have program every service like we did, much less classes for every different age group! And yet they had, essentially, the same budget as we did! I had to get over it. That’s not to say that you can’t bring this fact to the attention of your leaders (in an appropriate way), but get over begrudging the other departments for what they have, or bemoaning the fact that you don’t have enough. Just get over it!
2. Get thankful.
The fact that, even underfunded, I have more than many really hit home for me after going on a couple of missions trips. One was to Moscow, Russia, where I trained some leaders at a seminary. Wow…were my eyes opened to what I had at my church! They had NOTHING! The 2nd trip was to Perth, Australia – a “western” country that you would think might be somewhat equivalent to here. Nope…the churches I interacted with had virtually no children’s ministry resources. I may have been underfunded, but I had a lot in comparison to many other places. Since these trips I’ve also been to the Peru, Bolivia, Philippines, South Africa, Cameroon & Swaziland to do training – and was reminded over & over again what I do have in my own ministry. I became much more thankful!
3. Get creative.
For many years I have said this statement in seminars & workshops I’ve taught, and I’ve tried to take it to heart in my own ministry: The greatest restriction placed on your ministry is not lack of resources, but lack of vision.
I absolutely believe this to be true. When we have a big vision, we look beyond what we lack to what we believe we must accomplish. That compelling vision takes hold of us and our team and instills a creativity that doesn’t otherwise exist. When we find ourselves with a lack of resources we need to think creatively. Rarely in my experience have I decided something just couldn’t be done because of this lack – in almost every case there is a way to get it done if I & my team just think creatively enough!
4. Get help.
Your funding doesn’t have to come just from the church budget. You can get help in many areas. And it doesn’t have to be in the form of dollars. It can be supplies, equipment, curriculum – just about anything. In the smallest church I served in we moved from a mobile church (meeting at a school) into a new building. But funds were pretty drained with the building, so we didn’t have enough for a play area for our kids. After sharing the vision for this need, up stepped a couple capable of providing this need and that’s exactly what they did. $15000 or so later, we had our playground, and not a single penny came from the church. Do you have needs? Share those needs by leading with a vision (not the need) and see what God does in the hearts of those who have the ability to provide for that need.
5. Get on your knees.
This point could be put first, or throughout, this entire post. It is the most important and should be the on-going solution to your lack of funds. Get on your knees, and get your team on their knees, and ask God to provide. A gal shared in a workshop I taught that her team has actually turned every other leadership team meeting into a prayer meeting. That’s one way they keep it a priority – one time they meet and talk ministry, the next time they meet and just pray together. We forget that, while your ministry may be underfunded, our God is not. Sometimes we don’t have what we need because we simply haven’t asked.
How do you deal with underfunding in your ministry?
(please share in comments below)