In conversations, e-mails, and discussion board posts, church business administrators, treasurers, and executive pastors often ask about the "budget ratios" of other churches. The term may sound technical, but really, it comes down to a simple question: How do other churches spend their money and how does their spending compare to our church?
Such comparisons can help leaders discern whether what they spend on things like salaries, facilities, ministry programs, and missions, are too much, too little, or just right.
With that in mind, Christianity Today's Church Law & Tax Group commissioned independent market research firm Solver Solutions in April 2014 to conduct the "Church Budget Priorities Study." Our goal was to learn how churches nationwide spend their money so that when leaders ask about budget ratios, reliable information readily exists.
"Budget ratios are a quick reference to ensure we are not getting 'heavy' in one area or another," says Anne Kessler, business and facility manager at Church of the Resurrection, a Wheaton, Illinois, congregation where about 1,000 people attend each week. "If we are, we pause to address if that ratio variance makes sense for our current vision and for the direction the Lord is calling us to."
The "Church Budget Priorities Study" invited leaders who subscribe to various publications and e-newsletters published across the Christianity Today ministry to participate. The effort generated nearly 2,200 qualified responses. Questions focused on current budgets.