Updated: Aug 4, 2021
(And who makes it?)
Budget, budget, budget. Nobody likes those words. Those words mean, "DON'T SPEND!" As a musician, I can honestly relate. But you know what? Budgeting can also mean being good stewards of what God has given us.
Let me start by saying, this would all totally depend on your church's organizational chart. If you have a Pastor who is the main communicator, leads the singing, AND challenges for the offering; chances are he has control over the music ministry budget, too.
Now, I'm not saying that's necessarily a sad thing. He may be the best financial planner in the whole church, but the chances of that happening are between "improbable" and "impossible."
The best scenario would be if the Pastor NEVER has to hold church money, other than his salary. For many reasons, accountability and… ever heard the phrase, "Lead us not into temptation”?
Preferably, a church either must have a financial officer, who has had formal training, or a disbursing officer (the one who gives money to everyone) and then a private auditing company who comes in and, well, audits. But enough of the legal stuff.
Like I said, it totally depends on your organization. The best setting would be to have a Music Pastor/Director that the Pastor and Board of Directors trust. He then would be responsible for the department budget. This would comprise everything from purchasing/renting equipment, maintenance, musicians love gifts, purchasing music from iTunes (if needed), even looking at future needs; and everything else that falls under the music ministry (this too must be clarified in writing).
This solves a few problems. Now, musicians can't just go directly to the Music Pastor and ask for anything they "think" they need. That's where budgeting comes in.
A promising idea would be for the Music Pastor to plan his yearly budget, including an "incidentals" category, and then stick to it. If there are certain needs that come up during the year that isn't on the budget, then you can make the request to the Board/Pastor; or better yet, the music department can produce the money themselves (fund-raising, ticketed concerts, etc).
Beware: "The music department gets more funding than my department!"
Why? Because it’s true! According to statistics, 90% of churches with a music department spend more on that area than in any other ministry. Be careful not to get into that departmental budget wars. Let your leadership be clear and in agreement with the budget plans. And again, stick to it.
This is not the ultimate answer to the budget problem, but it helps a lot. Having a church that understands the music ministry's role in the organization will go a long way in determining the budget and who makes it.
In conclusion, the best way for the Music Ministry to be good stewards of their budget is when the leadership team (Pastor, Elders, Board of Directors, other department heads) of the church shows their total support for the department and then applies the same stewardship principles to their respective areas of ministries as well.