Financing a Church Youth Program

The estimated median cost of a quality youth program is approximately $70.00 per young person each year. This would be somewhat lower for larger youth groups. The following is a breakdown of the estimated cost of a youth group of 15 young people.


Teaching/program resources                                           $ 120

Discipleship materials                                                           50

Sponsor training                                                                 125

Promotional materials                                                           50

Films (4)                                                                            160

Outreach                                                                           200

Refreshments                                                                     120

Service projects                                                                   20

Camp subsidies                                                                 150

Leader gas allowance                                                        120

$1,025      Total


Who pays for these expenses? If a church does not budget for such ex­penses, much of the cost is borne by the youth workers. Young people and parents may also subsidize the program. Many of these basic expenditures, however, are ignored because funds are not available. The results of poor funding are untrained leaders, less-than-adequate program materials and loss of ministry opportunities.

Here are five ways to fund a church youth program:

·   tithes and offerings of young people

·   youth pay as they go for books activities, films, etc.

·   general fund of the church

·   special church offerings

·   fund-raising projects by youth


Because there are problems involved in relying totally on any one of these funding approaches, youth program funding should come from a combination of sources. The funding philosophy that follows is an eclectic approach com­posed through years of trial and error. The composition of these funding elements must be determined by each individual church after consideration of the following guidelines.

  1. Church Budget Youth ministries are a legitimate responsibility of the church and merit partial subsidy through the general fund of the church. Training materials, program resources and teaching tools, transportation costs and promotional expenses should be funded through the church budget. A detailed budget proposal should be submitted to the church board by the youth leaders. The church board should not grant a lump sum of money to the youth program without knowing how it will be spent.
  2. Youth Offerings Films, service projects, camp subsidies and outreach events can be funded through offerings taken at youth meetings. Young people should be taught and encouraged to contrib­ute to missions and the general fund of the church. Many teens have part-time jobs and need to be tithing. An emphasis on regular giving is consistent with teaching good stewardship habits. Churches are encouraged to allow the youth to conduct periodic church services. Special offerings can be taken for the youth program at these ser­vices.


  1. Admission Fees Social events should be funded by the youth on a cost basis; however, a “guest fund” should be established to encourage teens to bring guests to youth events. Such a fund would allow visitors to attend social activities without cost. Guests should not be expected to pay.
  2. Fund-Raising Projects Fund-raising projects can assist teens with expenses related to summer camp, retreats, missionary trips and service projects. Parents of some young people either cannot or will not help their teens with these high-cost ministries. The following guidelines are recommended in determining the legitimacy of a youth fund-raising project.
  • The church will not finance the endeavor.
  1. The money will be used to reach the lost for Christ or build teens up in Christ.
  • The fund-raising project will create work opportunities so that youth can earn either an hourly or project wage. (Examples: Car wash, $1.25 a car. Baby sitting, $2.00 an hour. Fruit picking, $.50 a bushel.)

Sales projects and “donation” events are discouraged.

  • All fund-raising endeavors should be approved by the church board.
  1. Fund raising focuses on people outside the church, as well as church members. If work rendered is fairly priced, the general public will value it.
  2. Teens often appreciate youth functions more when they have helped to finance them.

No matter what method a church selects to finance its youth program, it should be sure that the youth workers attend youth leadership training events each year, have money for program materials and establish ministry goals so that money is spent wisely.

Youth ministries are a legitimate responsibility of the church and merit church funding



The above article, “Financing a Church Youth Program” was written by Daryl Dale. The article was excerpted from the book Youth Worker’s Manual.


The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.


This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”