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Christmas is a major event in the church’s annual calendar. Despite its spiritual importance, though, too often, event coordinators and ministry staffers get carried away with the holiday spirit.

When that happens, churches tend to make headlines for all the wrong kinds of materialistic opulence. From Santas floating from the ceiling to free dessert and coffee to all of the fake snow, Christmas trees, synchronized lights, and endless smoke (why is there always so much smoke?), there are plenty of ways churches can blow the budget on Christmas extravagances or “extras” as we like to call them.

How can you reign in the overspending as you plan and execute your Christmas services and special events? How do you keep these gatherings fun while avoiding the need for them to soak up huge amounts of resources throughout December?

Here are three questions you can use to help you create some accountability for your ministry’s holiday budget this year.

Do You Have a Holiday Budget?

Setting a budget is ground zero for controlling your ministry’s holiday expenses. Even if you already have a Christmas budget, take this step seriously. How did you create the budget? Did you consider what you have to spend or just set a ballpark range based on previous years?

While it may feel overwhelming, creating a comprehensive budget for a church’s Christmas spending is possible. This should start with past data (especially the previous 12 months of attendance and giving) and consider things like growth rates.

When it comes to holidays, in particular, you want to be open to the fact that some months are more expensive than others. There’s no reason to be austere with your holiday budget. At the same time, setting a reasonable budget can be a key factor in helping you pump the breaks when the spending gets too lavish.

Do You Have Specific People in Charge of Approving Expenses?

Establishing checks and balances is a critical activity that many churches fail to consider. These are essential safeguards that ensure you are spending your ministry’s money in a wise, safe, and approved manner.

One way to do this is by appointing individuals who are clearly in charge of financial consulting and approving expenses. Depending on the size of your church, this could be anyone from an elder to a full-time accountant or treasurer on staff.

Regardless of who they are, make sure you find trustworthy individuals with competent financial skills and who don’t have a conflict of interest. Also, ensure they have the confidence to call others out when they go too far. Then, give them the authority to approve others’ holiday spending.

Are You Also Making the Most of EOY Giving?

Along with monitoring outgoing expenses, it’s also important to consider your incoming cash flow. Is your church making the most of charitable giving this year?

December is iconically one of the most common months of the year for donations. As people look for places to give, make sure your ministry is a clear option. Establish an end-of-year giving campaign with defined goals and objectives, and then communicate this to your congregation.

The way you spend money during the holiday season is also a subtle but important factor here. If you’re blowing money on Santa suits and light shows for Sunday morning services, there’s a good chance you’re going to send the wrong message regarding your ministry’s impact on your community. Use EOY giving campaigns as a way to keep your holiday spending focused on the real Reason for the Season and how following Jesus Christ is helping your church change lives and build the Kingdom of God. 

Staying Financially Accountable as a Church During the Holidays

Churches spend money in November and December. It’s just the way it goes. However, the amount that a ministry spends can vary depending on the willingness, oversight, and involvement of its leadership.Make sure that you’re staying involved in your church’s Christmas budget this year. Ensure checks and balances are in place, and everyone knows their role in the monitoring and spending of money. Working with our team at Chaney and Associates can also give you the professional support to operate with confidence. It ensures you’re up to date on your ministry’s investment strategy and financial planning. That way, you can have fun with the holidays without blowing the budget in the process.

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