Do You Need a Big Budget to Make a Big Difference?

Written by Jake Mulder for Fuller Youth Institute:

As the father of a two-year-old, I’m continually reminded that raising a kid in America today isn’t cheap. The cost of diapers, food, doctor’s appointments, and toys quickly adds up.

In fact, the most recent figures from the USDA report that a middle-income family will likely spend $245,340 to raise a child up to age 18.

Did I mention that doesn’t include the cost of college?

Furthermore, we live in a culture that seems to believe that the more money you spend on a child, the better she or he will fare in the future. The same thing happens in churches seeking to make an impact in the lives of young people. Popular wisdom suggests that the bigger the church budget (or building), the better.

I used to work as a financial analyst, so I like to think about numbers like these and their implications. As our research team studied over 250 congregations that are especially effective with teenagers and young adults in the Growing Young project, we paid attention to their financial investment in young people.

Here’s just a sample of what we found.

Finding #1: Your church doesn’t need a big budget to capture the attention and passion of young people.

Many voices contend that today’s young people are increasingly consumerist, spoiled, and entitled. So, the logic might follow that if we want to draw young people to our churches, we’ll need to invest in flashy facilities, a pizza party every week, or multiple paid staff.

But that’s simply not what our research uncovered.


Fuller Youth Institute