I hate dealing with money. I personally enjoy having money, but I do not dealing with money in the student ministry. It brings about tons of questions and arguments. I hear it is way too expensive. Then, when I do a cheap activity, they complain about the event not being big enough. It is tough to plan an event and plan a good cost that is reasonable. Josh Griffin recently shared an article that he found by Luke Trouten who wrote on the subject, and I felt this would be a huge help to you:

Thought this article from Luke Trouten on youth ministry events was fantastic – it goes into practical detail about planning and preparing a big event. Some really great stuff here – read the little bit I’ve stolen here, head there for the whole piece. Awesome!

Find Your Range
Because of all those variables, you won’t be able to nail down an exact per-person cost for any trip. To make sure you don’t lose your shirt (or your job!) it’s important to figure out the best-case and worst-case scenarios for sign-ups. You want to make sure that if you sign-ups are particularly low you can still afford the event. It can also give you an idea of the minimum number of students you’d need before the event can pay for itself. Likewise, it’s important to know what happens to the price if everyone brings 5 friends to the retreat.

Our parent church goes to the same convention we do each spring, but they charge much less than we do. I assumed it was just because they have a larger budget and could afford to subsidize it more. Out of curiosity, I plugged in their numbers to my formula (they bring about 5 times as many students) and was amazed to find that the price plummeted for a group that big. Sometimes the per-person costs don’t work how you’d think.

Don’t Apologize for the Price
It can be tempting to apologize when an expensive event comes up. While it may feel like you’re winning points by sharing in the sticker-shock, ultimately you’re devaluing your own event. You should be confident that the trip or retreat your planning is worth every penny it costs (and more)! To be honest, most youth trips are a bargain, and planning a similar event for your family or school group would cost even more. When you apologize for the price you convey that it maybe isn’t worth that much to go to the event. People are willing to pay if they are confident they are getting a good value for a fair price. Don’t undermine it by insinuating maybe the event costs too much.

Offer Assistance
While you shouldn’t apologize for the price, you also shouldn’t let the price get in the way. The reality of trips is they cost money. The reality of life is that sometimes money is tight. If your church does fundraisers, that can help offset some of the cost. Our church has a few reasons why we don’t do fundraising. But we still say, over and over, that money should not be the only reason a student can’t attend an event. That’s right, if the only thing keeping a student from signing up is the cost, we take away that obstacle. We ask if they can afford part of the fee, and the church covers whatever is leftover.

If we are going to tell students to that God provides if we trust in him, then we better put our money where our mouth is. This has been our policy for years and it’s provided many opportunities to see God come through in powerful ways. One of my favorite sayings is, “If it’s God’s will, then it’s God’s bill,” and he’s picked up the tab (and created some great stories) more than once.
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