Show Me the Money – Music Ministry On A Budget

Christian financial guru Dave Ramsey is quoted to say “you need to live like no one else so that later you can LIVE like no one else”.  Many times our music budgets are similar!  We have to lead a full-time ministry as a  part-time/volunteer leader with a strapped budget.

Balancing a budget is a tricky, time-learned art.   If the church isn’t meeting it’s weekly requirement, even with a budget you are strapped for spending money for your ministry.

Ever re-sing the previous year’s cantata?  Ever feel like you’ve borrowed music from every church in the association because you have absolutely NO money?  Here are five tips for you to use in the next planning year that have worked for me in volunteer, part-time and full-time ministry settings.  These tips could be used for any ministry.


  • Colleges and universities-utilize any local college &/or university.  Ask them if local music directors can have access to the music library.  More often than not, it will be free to you.  Moreover, they may even subscribe to choral clubs for reference purposes.  This may be a great resource for you which will save you money.  This blog is also a resource as I post choral club reviews from time to time.
  • FABM (Fellowship of American Baptist Musicians)  This is a FREE music lending library for music directors (you do not have to be an American Baptist to participate).
  • State convention-for example, my convention, the Kentucky Baptist Convention, has a music library.    The conventions would be a good resource to e-mail the churches in the area for a specific need.  One e-mail contacts each music minister in the state.
  • Associations-in the same way as a state convention, your local association may have a music library.  In fact, it would be a good idea for the local churches to give older or unused music to the association for the churches who have a need but cannot afford music.
  • Social networking-using twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and other networking tools can benefit you in connecting with music leaders across the world!  You never know what could happen just by asking!
  • Local churches (inter-denomination)-don’t forget to use your local churches.  Develop a relationship with them.  Help each other by sharing music between the churches.  In fact, you could even purchase the same cantata sometime and do a mass choir performance. Don’t limit yourself to your own denomination locally. Other denonimations may be singing selections from your favorite composer.
  • Publisher web sites-it doesn’t cost anything to preview music online.  Make a list of your best fitted anthems for your choir and order when appropriate.  Aside from lack of money, the biggest issue is having the time to preview music.  If you don’t have the money you could at least preview and document your ideas.


  • Just a few months ago, my church found a set of used handbells.  With pastoral approval, I publicized (in newsletters, bulletins and choir newsletter) my plan for the congregation to give towards this potential new ministry by donating funds or by purchasing a bell.  In only two weeks, we had enough to buy the bells!  Not all churches would be able to do this; every situation is different.
  • Make your case known to your people-they will give. Even if you ask for a love offering, the congregation may not give (for whatever reason).  Still, publicize the need.  There will be people within the church to step up and give at least a little. A little bit goes a long way in the ministry.  Always publicize with Pastoral approval. You don’t want to ask for anthem money when the pastor is deep into a drive to raise funds for Annie Armstrong!


  • There are many things you can organize your people to lead like : a Bake sale,  car wash, serve and fix a meal, hold a special concert with admission, and many more ideas.  For a more lofty goal, you could publicize a great need and do something outlandish like shave your head, beard, or wear a rival sports teams clothes, etc if the goal is met.


  • Don’t forget about turning your cantatas into anthems and vice versa, turn your newer anthems into a cantata. Many times we order cantata collections that sit on a shelf after it’s been sung.  Think about this when ordering your next one. It should be able to be used weekly leading up to the cantata instead of purchasing new anthems. Moreover, do the math: go over the price of purchasing a collection versus the same number of anthems. One way may be much cheaper than the other.
  • Don’t lose your creativity because you cannot purchase a newer, unique anthem for your entire choir. Purchase five copies and sing it with a quartet and piano.  This gives you creativity, keeps you modern, and enhances worship as you are doing something different.


  • A detailed budget will help you keep track of your expenses from year to year. Keep track of each purchase (working with your secretary) while separating into categories like: worship, adult choir, youth choir, etc.
  • Don’t spend it unless you need it. If you can’t spend money regularly, then you need to watch what you spend. Don’t waste it on frivolous things. Remember, you are a steward of the money that belongs to God.

Just like balancing your personal checkbook, you are called to balance God’s checkbook by only purchasing the items needed to run your ministry at that given time.  If you have recently started a new ministry at a church, your budget from the previous church won’t work for the new church.  Adjust to the people’s needs and wants as you serve.  Make notes along the way so that the next year, when the budget quotes are due, you will remember how to alter your budget to address your needs.


ChurchMusicToday is a blog targeted to part-time and volunteer music leaders in the local church.  Follow us on facebook here.


One thought on “Show Me the Money – Music Ministry On A Budget

  1. We have a very small music budget at my church and a great deal of it is taken up by our CCLI and Song Select purchase each year. I am very blessed to have several talented people in the choir who are willing to set down early in late July and put together a Christmas Cantata for the upcoming season. It started originally as a way to get away from the generic Christmas musicals, but turned into something great for our group. We start with an outline; this year for example looks something like this:

    Mary- “Breath of Heaven”: Amy Grant

    The Birth of Christ- “Welcome to Our World”: Chris Rice

    Joseph- “Joseph’s Lullaby”: Mercy Me

    The wonder of His Birth- ‘What Child is This”: Mercy Me/ “Do You Hear What I Hear”: Third Day

    The good news- “Go Tell it On the Mountain”: Big Daddy Weave

    The Call to the Lost- “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”: Casting Crowns

    We also have at scripture and a short narrative before each song. The music, most years will be a mix of traditional and contemporary and consist of six to eight songs. This is the first year we have stuck with just Christmas music. We have in the past done songs like “Grace Like Rain”, “You Are God Alone” and “Your Grace is Enough”. When we put ours together we have one thing in mind and that is sharing the Gospel. There are so many people who come to church on just the Holidays that we want to make sure what they hear is a message and not just the same story they hear every Christmas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s