My mother is the queen of finding a bargain. I can’t remember a time when she purchased an item of clothing at full price. She frequently carries coupons in her purse. In many ways, I’ve adopted her practices and cringe when confronted with the dilemma of waiting until something was at least half the original retail price. A maternal voice is inside my head with the familiar adage that a penny saved is a penny earned.
If you’re a ministry leader, you may find yourself looking for bargains and even free resources. This is not just a sign of frugality; it’s a desire to be a good steward of the finances entrusted to you. So whether you are a ministry leader with a comfortable budget or a leader with no budget, we can all learn ways to save money. Here are just a few ideas you should consider.
First, learn the art of asking and borrowing from others. I have been to places where I’ve seen fun stage decor and benefited from ideas that I can easily imitate in my own context. At one event, I knew a ministry wife that was a terrific artist who did contemporary pictures depicting Jesus. I asked her if I could display them on easels as a background for an event. She graciously agreed, and I repaid her by acknowledging her work in our event and in the printed resources. Women were able to purchase some of her work after the event, which helped her and didn’t cost me a thing.
I’ve also realized that purchasing Bible study videos and leader kits can add up over time. While serving at a larger church, I created a lending library so women could check out resources and use them for personal use or by starting a group in their homes. It was a great way to get more mileage out of the investment, and it benefited more women in the long run.
And don’t forget the resources in your congregation. If you’re coordinating an event and you need centerpieces, consider asking women to bring items from their homes that fit the theme. For example, maybe you’re hosting a spring event and you don’t have the money for elaborate decorations. You could consider asking women to bring birdhouses from their collection at home and using them throughout an area. If you’re looking for door prizes, consider asking local businesses for donations in return for some free advertising.
Most of all, remember the saying that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Ask others to help and don’t be offended if someone says no. I served at a church that built a new community center that included a small kitchen. Instead of purchasing the items, I set up a registry at a local store and women purchased items to donate during a fun event celebrating the opening of the building. It was a fun way to get women involved and participate in the celebration of a new outreach to our neighborhood.
Second, find resources that are free and reproducible. Google can be your best friend and Pinterest can be your creative inspiration. You can often find ideas on women.lifeway.com where we offer free printables and recipes. Follow blogs and websites that provide new ideas you can replicate. The website Canva is also an excellent resource for templates that will help you create great visual presentations and graphic designs.
There are also many free online resources to help you with Bible studies. If you’re a Bible study teacher, make sure you are aware of study tools that can help you with maps, lexicons, and commentaries. Some of the free commentaries available online are public domain and may not be considered the best commentaries, but they can be helpful. And one word of caution–if you are citing someone else’s quotes or work, please make sure to give them credit. Don’t plagiarize. Be a conscientious teacher who does her homework.
If you’re looking for free leadership training, Lifeway offers monthly webinars on various ministry topics. What began as a way to provide a leadership alternative during the pandemic, the You Lead webinars have now become a library of information from ministry experts and leaders.
The Lifeway Women’s app is another free resource where you can discover reading plans, network with a group, pray for others, and listen to Lifeway Women’s Marked podcast. If you’re looking for insider information, don’t forget to sign up on the Lifeway Women’s Insider Network. Who doesn’t want to be the first one to know about new events and how to connect with resources?
In addition to these ideas, be a leader who continues to learn by listening to podcasts, checking out books at the library, following leaders on social media, and signing up for email newsletters that provide you with a plethora of helpful information.
Third, if you do need to spend money, shop around for the best prices and learn the art of purchasing things that can be recycled or repurposed. A few years ago, I purchased some black and white buffalo plaid material for a small conference. That material seems to go with whatever season we’re in and it has been used multiple times in five years. It was definitely worth the twenty-five-dollar investment! If you have room at your church for a supply closet, take inventory each year and add a few pieces that aren’t specific to one theme or event. Look for items that can be used again and again in various ways. And if you have items that are not in style or you are ready for a change, consider placing the items for sale online and use the proceeds to purchase something new.
Being frugal doesn’t mean you aren’t creative. In fact, it might force you to think of new ways to use items you’ve never considered before. Have fun saving money and follow the words of Proverbs 21:5, “The plans of the diligent certainly lead to profit, but anyone who is reckless certainly becomes poor.”
Kelly D. King is the Manager of Magazines/Devotional Publishing and Women’s Ministry Training for Lifeway Christian Resources. She is the author of Ministry to Women: The Essential Guide for Leading Women in the Local Church. You can hear Kelly at Lifeway’s You Lead events that are held in several cities around the country or listen to her co-host the Marked Podcast with Elizabeth Hyndman.