Previously I outlined 3 steps to help you create a sound budget. Today, I want to help you take the next step in the process - ensuring that every program you created a budget line for is carried out with excellence, so you can actually stay within that budget! We’re going to do this by reviewing a common offering in many churches, and then you can follow the steps in other programs you offer. As always, the goal is to see how you can continue to honor God in the budget process.
“Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.” Those words were penned by Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, in a letter to his son back in 1774 and I believe that they are still applicable today.
For this discussion about staying on budget, let’s talk about a program that many churches have in common – Wednesday Night Meals. As you know, everything a church does should glorify God – including mid-week meals. Depending on the size of your church, the budget line for this program can be a few hundred dollars or thousands of dollars per year.
Offering a meal in combination with a mid-week service is a mainstay for many churches, especially your small to medium-size churches. Practically speaking, Wednesday Night services can be stressful for parents–trying to get home from work, gather the kids and get everyone to church on time. So, not having to cook that night can be a blessing, especially in single-parent homes. Who doesn’t love a home-cooked meal when you don’t have to do the cooking, right?!? However, it can be challenging to find the blessing if there are family members with food allergies or sensitivities.
So, let’s look at some ways you can glorify God in your Wednesday Night Meal budget and bring excellence to your members, all while enjoying a meal together.
Offer high quality, delicious meals that are both nutritious and offer options for those with food allergies/sensitivities:
Include gluten/dairy free, vegetarian, and vegan options
Offer low-sugar or sugar-free options
Train your servers to be kind & pleasant (don’t be a grumpy lunch lady).
Utilize reusable dinnerware and utensils:
It’s too expensive to throw away paper plates and plasticware each week
Buy good & affordable dinnerware that can be washed and used for a long time
Check to see if any church members have utensils or service pieces they want to donate, as we all like to declutter from time to time
Keep the cost reasonable:
Limit the cost per person to around $5-$7
Put a cap on families of around $20-$24 so all families can afford to eat
NEVER turn someone away because they can’t pay - offer alternate means of payment such as help with setup or cleanup in exchange for a meal
Take reservations so you know how much food to prepare
Have a plan for leftovers:
Contact your local homeless shelter to see if they are allowed to accept your leftover food
Check with the local fire or police departments to see if you can bless these public servants with leftover meals
Ask your local school to see if they will let you bring the leftovers in for the teachers to enjoy in the break room
Being wise stewards of God’s finances is important, but it involves more than just how much money you spend. It also includes HOW you spend that money and the eternal effect it will have on others. Hosting a mid-week meal can provide an opportunity for a tired single mom to feed her children a nutritious meal without breaking her pocketbook and while you’re feeding her and her children, you can be feeding her soul as well.
I pray that the information provided helps you and your church to see that budgets are more than just numbers on a spreadsheet to be kept. They are also a means of bringing others the hope of Jesus Christ and enjoying a good meal together.
So until next time my friend, let’s all strive to make an impact and not just an income. Take care and remember to always look your best, do your best and be your best.
To hear the podcast episode for this topic check out the Bookkeeping with a Purpose podcast on your favorite podcast app or here