October 17, 2022
Resource Hub

The key to financial freedom is this

There is something that gives you the ability to do what God says, when He says to do it. Read on...


Margin is the ability to do what God says, when He says to move. You may have never heard the word margin defined this way. I have realized that this is true after many years of doing ministry the way that I had seen it done my whole life. Many people of faith would dispute this, and I'm ok with that. However, once you try it, I'm convinced that you won't ever go back to the way you used to do it. Many ministries that I grew up around would not plan appropriately, and every time they needed to do something that took finances, they would just raise another offering for it. I'm not against capital campaigns or raising additional funds, but my wife and I have never felt called to do it this way. We have felt like we were directed by God to plan and strategize the goals that God puts on our heart, and then God shows up big to take care of the needs that we have in the ministry. With a growing ministry, you're always going to need to have reserves, savings and margin for growth. But how do you do that when you've never been trained in seminary how to do it? Great question. This is one of the main reasons that I created the Resource Hub...to help you see another way to run your ministry that may help you relieve stress and push the vision forward.

We have set our church up on a budget that is defined annually at 90% of the previous year's income. This gives us 10% margin from the start. I will define to you how we set it up below this in percentage breakdowns, so that you can understand it in full. The most important part of this is the 90% of previous year's budget. I think margin honors God, because we read in the Word of God that stewardship is high on His priority list for His people. The story of the talents in the gospels is a good place to start when defining these principles. If He can trust us with little, He will trust us with much.

Here is how we develop our annual budget in percentages...

Start with 90% of previous year's budget. You will need to develop this early, so you'll need to average the monthly totals for the previous year and multiply by 12 months to get close to your annual total. Then, subtract 10% out of that to get the budget number for the upcoming year. Then see if you can categorize in 4 areas like below.

Missions (local, national & international) = 10%

Savings = 10%

Employees/Benefits = 40%

Ministry Operations/Building = 40%

***We recently changed our "Employees/Benefits" category to 40%, because we live in a very expensive area (Naples, FL). We also believe in offering a top level benefit package to our staff. I posted about benefits in a different Resource Hub article. You may want to read that one...you may keep more staff for longer with a great benefit package.

If you develop your budget like this, you will start every year with a 20% margin (savings of 10% + margin of 10%).

Imagine this...God changes your plans mid year...it's ok. You've got margin for that. Preparing to be ready for God to speak is sometimes the best way to get Him to speak clearly to you. Buildings cost a lot of money, and you will be stressed if you are trying to purchase a building without the funds in the bank to put down on the property. Consider that 30% is probably the minimum that a bank is going to be willing to lend on a property for a church (70% LTV). I recommend 50% LTV, but a starting point may be 70%.

I hope this is helpful for you to develop your upcoming budget. I know that you will never go back to the way you used to do it, if you give this a shot.

James Boyd

Business Owner, Consultant, Author, and Pastor

In 2011 James Boyd and his wife, Tracy, moved their family from Michigan to Naples, Florida, to take the helm of a dwindling congregation struggling under the weight of financial deficit. Armed with faith, prayer, generosity—and a good dose of proven business experience—James restructured the internal workings of the organization in accordance with sound finance and business principles.

About James


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