Children’s Ministry Budget: 8 Tips for Doing More with Less

If you are like me, you don’t have a huge budget at your church for Children’s Ministry.  In fact, you may not have a budget at all.  Maybe the budget that you do have comes from your own debit card.   Maybe you’re living in an impoverished area, where money is going towards basic necessities like food, water, and medicine.  Maybe your budget has always been healthy, but with the current state of the economy, you don’t see that continuing.  Whatever the case may be, here are some practical tips on how to run a Children’s Ministry more cost effectively.

As always, it is important to keep in mind that a healthy budget does not always create a healthy program.  Herbert Hoover, the 31stPresident of the United States, once said that, “Our children are our most valuable resource.”  The wealth of a church should lie in its investment in its children, but investments don’t always have dollar signs.  Investments may look like time spent together on the swings, reading the Bible together, a letter of encouragement, a high five every week, or raking leaves for an elderly church member.  Simple discipleship is always a rich investment.

Included here are ideas on how to cut costs in your ministries, without sacrificing quality programming.  By no means is this an exhaustive list, so please feel free to add your comments or suggestions to the bottom of the page.  They would be much appreciated.

8 Tips for Doing More with Less

1.   Get creative: Lesson plans often come with a long list of materials needed to teach a Bible lesson, make a craft, or play a game.  Many of these materials can be costly.  Instead of running to the store to pick up a specific item, be flexible.  Change or modify the activities based on what you do have available.  Often you can do the same objective for a fraction of the price.

2.  Take inventory: What does your church already have?  Go through supply closets and make a thorough list of materials available.  Update this list on a regular basis and distribute it to all of the teachers in your ministry.  Many times we spend money on items that are collecting dust in a cabinet because we simply forget what we have on hand.

3.  Reuse and Recycle: Keep curriculum organized in a filing cabinet for future years.  Our Treasured Tikes Program (a Children’s Church for 2-4 year olds) repeats the same lessons every 3 years, since the children will have graduated from the program in that time span.  As far as supplies are concerned, save all of those cereal boxes, jars, water bottles (and other common materials) so that you’ll always have art materials on hand.

4.  Make your own: Need Play-Dough for a lesson?  Make a batch.  Need costumes for a Children’s Christmas play?  Save coupons for craft supply stores, purchase fabric, and utilize the seamstresses in your church.  Even better, accept donations of used clothes and cut and mend the existing pieces as needed.  Need instruments for a worship song?  Place rice in a water bottle and you’ve got a maraca.  Need tiles for a mosaic art project?  Use dried beans, peas, and lentils to get the same effect.

5.  Host a Give-A-Thon: Go through lesson plans to see what materials will be needed for the next year.  Or, brainstorm commonly used supplies.  Make a list of these items and distribute it to the church congregation.  Identify a drop-off area in a central location in the church.  Have members either purchase or rummage through their own homes for donations.  Organize all donations in a neat and efficient manner.   Find a creative way to thank the congregation for their generosity!

6.  Make connections: Utilize social networking to generate supplies, curriculum, feedback, and ideas.  Whether it is a blog, a Facebook account, Twitter, or a simple email, don’t be afraid to ask people for donations or resources.  Often times, people are excited to donate items to a worthy cause (and de-clutter their homes at the same time!)  We receive many of our recycled supplies from the local art teacher, curriculum from a large area church, and snacks (that would have been thrown out) from a Panera bread employee.

7.  Go thrifty: Always be on the lookout for good deals at local consignment stores, garage/yard sales, Goodwill, and Ebay.  Sometimes you’ll find great toys for the nursery, quality furniture pieces, Christian books, or fun themed accents for parties or special events.  Once items are cleaned, they can be as good as new!  Also, if you don’t have the budget to buy a children’s book needed for a lesson, check your local library to see if they carry it.  If the public library search comes up empty, search for it in a large area church’s library.

8.  Nothing beats free: Utilize free internet sites like this one, that supply free Bible lesson plans, art projects, puppet skits, games, parenting articles, recipes, and ideas – you name it!

Share Your Ideas

Have fun saving money, providing quality programming, and investing in the lives of children!  What ideas have you used in your ministry to be cost-effective? Leave a comment below and let us know.

More Budget Tips: Read this forum thread on Kidology discussing children’s ministry budget per child. You can also read our tips for VBS budget.

Need more help? Then check out our series of articles titled “Overcoming Challenges in Your Children’s Ministry.”


  1. Esther Braxton says

    I asked my assistance to search the net for children’s teaching materials for my sunday school as i was very busy.Thank God i’m stuck here.It has been so helpful in terms of teaching materials, ideas and all.God bless you! Good idea for worship instument.We have three drums and most of them want to play them so that poses a problem.We are also on next to nothing budget.I ran a Goodnews Club.We meet every Saturday afternoon.Last week we got some corn and popped them and that was fun.None of them had done their own popping before.We put the popped corn in a big bowl came up one by one, and scooped as much as each palm could scoop.How much each child got in his or her hand was what was their portion and that was a great fun for them.

  2. says

    I googled for help with Vacation Bible School and stumbled upon your website. God works in wonderful ways!! I can not believe how detailed, up-to-date, and information your website has been. The ideas are practical and I can definitely see our church trying some of them. I can’t wait to share it with the rest of the Vacation Bible School team as we plan this year’s program. Thank you for this ministry as I’ve read the many church’s you have blessed and many more that have not posted.

  3. says

    Great! So glad the ideas have been helpful! Thank you all for what you do in the lives of children. Your labor of love is not in vain:)

    Keep keeping on!

  4. Mollie says

    I also teach children’s church for Kindergarteners through 5th graders. We use and reuse anything we can get our hands on. I’m always looking for Free things and materials. We are working with a very low budget, like almost nothing, but our children’s lessons has never suffered at all. When we need something, God has always provided. HE knows how to help all his “little” and ‘big’ children. Thank you for everything you do and let us use. It sure helps and God will always be with eveyone in their hearts and soul. May HE bless each and everyone of you.
    Thank You, In HIS Name.

  5. maria valentine says

    Thanks for your very practical tips and ideas ,they come in handy as i we have a very small budget.

  6. Eva Torres says

    I would like to thank you for the worderful, useful and creative ideas you give me. They have been very helpful to me. We have just started a church and the income it is not alot. That is why I started to search in the internet for free bible lessons. I love children and I am always looking for ways to teach them about our God in a way that they can understand. This site has more than I can ask for. Again thank you very much and God bless you and your family for what you are doing for all the children.

  7. says

    Great tips. I know there are many church’s cutting back right now and the kids ministry seems to be low priority in these things. I love your creative ideas for doing more with less.

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