Multi-Site on a Budget

Guest Post: Sam Pickard

I am super-excited about the future!  In fact, I’m always eager to move forward.  Often I’m so eager to move forward that I forget to take a minute and celebrate what God has already done.  Recently, I have been looking back on how God has allowed a church in a small rural Midwest community to impact multiple communities, even outside of the US.

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In 2009, God gave our Lead Pastor a vision to reach thousands of people for Christ in rural communities through a multi-site strategy.  He began sharing that vision. In early 2012, the first campus outside of our original campus was launched, and God did it with our very limited resources.  Five years later we have five campuses, including one in Jamaica.  We have also launched our iCampus (what we call our online campus).  God has done and is doing amazing things!

Sometimes, we can be tempted to look at the mega-churches with the big budgets and think that they are the only ones that can do big things.  That’s just not true!  We have very limited resources, and I want to share seven things that have allowed us to do Multi-Site with a limited budget.  It’s my prayer it will encourage you as you attempt to accomplish what God has called you to.

HAVE A VISION – You have to have a vision for what God has called you to AND you have to share that vision with those in your church.   If you don’t have that vision, you need to get on your knees and start begging God for one.  Spend time in prayer, fasting, and silence.  Do what you have to do to see a vision for the local church you lead.

BUILD A COMMITTED TEAM – As we were getting ready to launch into multi-site, we desperately needed a strong committed team of leaders, but we didn’t have funds to hire them.  That’s when a pastor friend shared the idea of a volunteer team.  That team is expected to attend meetings and have real responsibilities.  In fact, they have job descriptions.  We ask them to commit for a year and at the end of the year, they can step off the team if they need a break or it wasn’t a good fit.  (Most of them have stayed on longer than a year.)

Even as we have begun hiring paid staff, there are very few people who are full time: three pastors and our secretary.  We have four pastors, including our lead pastor and our executive pastor (me), who are bi-vocational (working at least two jobs).

ENCOURAGE GENEROSITY  It’s no secret that many churches shy away from talking about giving.  Don’t.  Entire sermons series, blogs, and probably books have been written on this topic, so I won’t go too deep in the weeds except to say that you need to encourage people to give and provide them that opportunity.  Providing an opportunity isn’t simply taking an offering each week, though that is part of it.  It’s much bigger than that.  Here are three specifics:

  1. Teach about money.  It was important enough for Jesus to talk about, so we probably should too.
  2. Make needs known, and not just financial.  We have had drum kits, TV’s, computers, etc. donated.  We even had a building donated.  Let people know what you need for God’s vision for your church to be what He wants it to be.
  3. Check out Giving Rocket.  They have some great tools.  We utilize their idea for a Christmas Offering.  At a time when many are in a giving spirit, it gives people an opportunity to be generous for a great cause, something bigger than themselves.  In our case, at times we have used part of these funds to go towards future campus launch.

FIND FREE AND INEXPENSIVE RESOURCES – There are some great ones out there.  Here are some that we use:

  1. TechSoup.org – We are able to get a variety of computer programs and software at a greatly reduced price.
  2. Google Hangouts – We are spread out and have people joining meetings from all over.  Hangouts is a free video chat tool that allows us to meet remotely.
  3. iMovie – There are a lot of video editing platforms out there.  We use iMovie.  It works for what we need, and it comes installed on newer Macs.
  4. Dropbox – This is a file sharing platform that allows a person to put a file in a folder and have it available to everyone with access to that Dropbox folder.  It’s been a great way to share videos to all campuses.  We started with the free version, but due to the size of the videos, we upgraded to the paid version for $100 per year.
  5. Podcasts – Our leaders listen to a lot of podcasts, and why wouldn’t we?  It is free training from a variety of people on a variety of topics.  Want to have everyone discuss a topic but don’t have the funds to buy a book for the entire team?  Listen to a podcast, and discuss it.

GET CREATIVE – I know that I am biased, but we have some great stage designs. And we do it with next to no cost.  We have used corrugated metal from old farm buildings, furnace filters, and a variety of items that were laying around.  There are some great things you can do for cheap.

You can get some great ideas on the internet.  One of the ways we saved a couple thousand dollars was to build a rear projection screen versus ordering one.  The Campus did it for less than $50 with a shower curtain and some framing materials.  It was an idea we found online, and it looked great!

MAXIMIZE VIDEO – We had to figure out video in a hurry in order to support video venue.  (BTW, Dave Horn at Truth Seekers is a great resource. www.geartechs.com). Once we did that, we realized we could do so much more.  We began doing an online campus. People know Jesus today because of our iCampus. We started publishing videos to YouTube, Vimeo, social media, and our website.  One of the people on our staff first connected through one of those videos.  Others at our church checked us out for the first time through those videos.

SHARE YOUR VISION – This is here twice because it is that important.  You have to have a vision for what God has called you to, AND you have to share that vision with those in your church. Don’t wait to have all the answers.  I’ve heard it said that a God-sized vision has more questions than answers.  Embrace that tension. People are willing to volunteer, give, get creative, and tell others about our church because they believe in our vision.

These past five years haven’t been easy, but it’s exciting to see what God has done. He is working and lives are being impacted in real ways.

Sam Pickard loves people and is a leader in the rural midwest. His professional leadership began in a factory setting and continued into retail where he had the privilege of leading large teams at International Fortune 500 companies for more than 15 years. Currently Sam works as the Manager at Pickard Insurance Services in addition to being the Executive Pastor at The Rescue Church. He is married to Eve, his wife of nearly two decades. They have three amazing kids and future leaders: Miriam, Micah, and Kirti. If you want to connect, Sam is on Social Media at @iamsampickard and blogs at sampickard.com.

Creating a Simple Church Budget

It’s not uncommon for some small churches to operate without a budget because it’s not uncommon for many people to operate without a budget in their personal finances. The church I serve operated for the first few years without a budget. In their minds as long as the incoming was greater than the outgoing then everything was fine.

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In my mind, everything wasn’t fine, in my mind that seemed like a terrible way to handle church finances. They needed a budget, and your church does too.

A budget allows you to not only see where the money is going but gives you the ability to plan where the money is going.

The interesting thing was they weren’t opposed to a budget, they just didn’t know how to set one up. You may be in the same situation, so I want to show you how to create a simple church budget.

A budget is made up of income and expenses.

Income is pretty simple. It consists of tithes, offerings, and any other type of special giving. The income in your budget should reflect the average giving in your church over the last few years.

If your church has been growing or declining, it can be wise to look at the trends over multiple years. For example, say your giving in 2014 was $250,000, in 2015 it increased to $300,000, and you’re on track to receive $350,000 in giving in 2016. If this is the case, you may feel comfortable budgeting your income at $400,000 for 2017.

Remember you can always go back and readjust if giving is more or less than you expected.

Now, let’s move on to expenses. The great thing about tracking expenses is that you can see exactly where the money is going. To keep things simple, let’s put our expenses into five categories.

Employee Compensation

In this category you want to track salaries, but don’t forget about the additional employee expenses such as: housing, bonuses, insurance, retirement, payroll taxes, etc. All of these should be included in this category. The average Protestant church spends around 45% of their total budget in this category.

Facilities

Facilities include mortgages, leases, utilities, landscaping, and maintenance. We also include expenses like cleaning supplies, paper towels, hand soap, toilet paper, etc. This category should make up 20-25% of the total budget.

Ministries

For us this category consists of any expense related to the ministries in our church including: kid’s ministry, first impressions, small groups, student ministry, worship ministry, and leadership. This category should be around 10% of the total budget.

Outreach

Outreach includes foreign and local missions, marketing, and benevolence, as well as other administrative costs. This category makes up 5-10% of the total budget.

Weekend

This category consists of expenses directly related to the weekend worship experience. A large portion of this budget is related to special events like Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, and Christmas. It also includes things like coffee, doughnuts, free gifts, and creative elements in the service. This category is around 5% of the budget.

Hopefully, if you’ve done the math correctly, you should have 5-10% of the budget leftover for savings. However, don’t be surprised if unexpected expenses arise that take a portion of this percentage.

If you’ve never had a budget before, you may have to guess on some of the expenses the first year. Don’t let this keep you from doing a budget. What you’ll find is that each year you’ll get better and better at knowing where the money is going, and that’s a very important thing.

Does your church have a budget? If not, I’d love to help you get one set up, just go to my contact page and send me an email. Also, if you haven’t already make sure to subscribe to the blog and get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

Is Your Church Average?

I’m a big fan of Tony Morgan. If you’re not familiar with him, Tony is a church consultant and blogger who started a company called The Unstuck Group that is dedicated to helping churches get healthy. Several years ago, we brought Tony into our church and his insight was incredible. I highly recommend it. This week I got an email from him with some interesting statistics.

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Did you know the average church has…

  • 59% of people in small groups or studies?
  • 45% of people on volunteer teams?
  • 7% of people baptized each year?
  • $43 given by the average person each week?
  • 1 staff member for every 77 attendees?

It didn’t take long for me to realize that my church isn’t average. Here’s what our numbers look like this year.

  • 30% of people in small groups or studies.

It’s no secret that we’re not great at small groups. We’re working to get better, but the struggle is real.

  • 40% of people on volunteer teams.

We have some incredible volunteers, but it seems to be getting a little harder to get people to start serving. We are putting some plans in place to grow this number going into next year.

  • 10% of people baptized this year.

The number I’m most proud of. We continue to see above average numbers in baptisms each year. A big part of this was offering a creek baptism during the summer. Many people want to be baptized the same way their parents or grandparents were, and that means going down to the creek.

  • $17 given by the average person each week.

Giving has to be the struggle of every small town church. At least I hope it is, or we’re doing something wrong. We continue to look for ways to teach people about finances, budgeting, and the importance of supporting the local church.

  • 1 staff member for every 110 attendees.

When giving is lower, staffing ratios are bound to be higher. We would love to hire another two to three people right now, but the budget just won’t allow it. We need to look for ways to get creative with volunteer staff or unpaid interns.

Tony’s research was based on a survey with over 200 churches. That may seem like a large sample, but when you consider that there are more than 300,000 churches in America that hardly scratches the surface.

Either way my church isn’t average, and I bet yours isn’t either.

How does your church compare? Post your numbers in the comments below, and if you haven’t already make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on leadership, church growth, and more sent to your inbox each week.