How We Do Youth Ministry With $50 A Month

We do Youth Ministry on a budget of $50 a month. There’s around 40 teenagers on our roll and we average 15-20 on a night. A few months ago I shared what our typical Youth Min calendar looks like, and I thought it’d be a good idea to follow up with how we make our budget work for this.

$50 a month works out to be about $11 each week that we have Youth. Here’s our month by month break down for 2017 up until July (you can see what we had planned for Youth in this post under term 1&2 for 2017).

  • February: $21.25
  • March: $28.84
  • April: $0
  • May: $156.58
  • June: $37.74
  • July: $21.99

So how did we do this? Here’s 3 ways we make this budget work for us:

Small youth ministry budget? No worries! You can have an awesome ministry running with very little cash. Here's what we do. Tansquared Youth Ministry

Don’t spend money every week.

Most weeks we don’t actually need to spend much, if anything, for Youth. Our main spending has been on administration items, such as storage boxes for each small group and printing term plans for students. We occasionally spend money on resources for games such as tape or food. Whatever doesn’t get used on the night gets kept in our stores for another week, unless it is a perishable item (ie. opened/half-used food).

Another area where we cut down on weekly costs is food. We run a café time after Youth each week, and could easily spend most (read, all) of our budget to cover this! To help cover the cost we have a parent roster. Each week one parent (or family) supplies a plate of food for Youth Café and we top it up from our stores, depending on the number of students.

Save up for bigger events.

The money we didn’t spend during previous weeks means we can spend more on special events. For example, last year we finished up with an awards dinner. We spent $140 all up for the night. We’d asked students to bring $5 each (we hardly ever ask them to pay for things so we were ok with doing this), so in the end only $60 came from our Youth budget- just over a month’s worth of budget. We could afford to do this due to not spending much the previous 2 months.

This year we hardly spent anything in Term 1 (Feb-April) – only $50.09 from a total of $150. Then in May we had a rock climbing night planned and we were able to cover the cost for each student that went ($124 total) from the Youth budget, due to having that extra $100.

Our other big event recently was a Mid Winter Christmas party. This didn’t require much extra spending as we had a lot of resources on hand already, so we were able to put more into food and a prize for our ugly sweater competition.

Sow into Youth for yourself.

We are also firm believers in sowing into your ministry for yourself, regardless of being a volunteer or paid staff. When you sow into it, you ‘own’ it and you treasure it. Some things we do (or have done) in our own Youth Ministry to sow our finance into it are:

  • Food (or drink) for Youth Cafe
  • DYM screen games
  • Sports equipment
  • End of year student leaders celebration (i.e. dessert night out)

As you can see, sowing into Youth from your own finance doesn’t necessarily mean purchasing only big ticket items or only the little things. Do what you can with what you have. Decide what is feasible, and plan ahead so you can make it happen. Haggai 1:3-11 talks about building the House of God before your own house, and sowing into the ministry you are stewarding is part of that.

For more ideas on working with a small Youth Min budget, see these posts on budgeting.

Bonus tips:

  • Buying in bulk sounds like a good way to save money, but don’t do it unless it’s something you know you’re going to use!
  • Collaborate with other ministries in your church. Both planning an event? Where can you team up to reuse décor or other items?
  • Check out op shops when you get a chance! (We used 50c pillowcases to make team flags for Capture the Flag!)

Let’s talk:

  • What does your Youth Ministry budget look like? How do you make it work for you?
  • Do you find that you are able to save up for bigger events or purchases easily?
  • What ways have you found to sow into Youth for yourself?

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  • When I was doing youth ministry, one thing I did to help save money was appeal to the gifts within the church. There are lots of people in the congregation who have giftings that are untapped. I had elderly women who would make cookies for the youth group pretty regularly. If you need help with decorating for holidays, this is another one to look at the giftings within the church. There was one woman in our church who was amazing at decorating but she was never used in other ways! I highly recommend getting to know the people in the congregation who might be easily forgotten. You can always find amazing treasures and willing hearts who would love to help out and give of their time, talent, and resources.

    • Great idea, Erin! Yes, it’s amazing the talents and willingness people you can find in the congregation 🙂 Thanks for sharing this idea!