2 Words To Remember When Your Vision Is Larger Than Your Budget

Written by Russ Cambria

Over the years, I have had the privilege of working under numerous leaders in ministry. Each had their own style and keen sense of how to conduct Kingdom business, all while tasked with the same responsibility as you and me, which is protecting the integrity of the ministry. Managing resources was often at the top of that list because, let’s agree, donors expect their dollars to (help us) change lives, communities, and ultimately, generations.


I learned two key words from a retired U.S. Army Colonel that changed my perspective on how I conduct business within the ministry. These two words help me to form a healthy filter from which most ideas, purchases, and vision-casting stem. These words are “mission critical.”

When funding is flowing through our organizations at healthy levels it is easier to forget these two words because we tend to feel less pressure in adhering to a predetermined budget. However, so many of us know that funding is usually an on-going concern because often our visions are larger than our budgets.


  1. Determine your mission! Without a healthy understanding of your mission you will never know what is and what is not “critical” to helping you fulfill that mission.
  2. Ask yourself, “Is this (purchase, goal, or schedule you may be keeping) critical to helping you fulfill the mission you defined in step 1?” If not, adjust it or decline to assign any more time or funding to it.  Do not waste valuable resources entrusted to you by supporters if those dollars are not helping you fulfill the mission.
  3. Create an environment where your staff and volunteers automatically begin to ask themselves, “Is my contribution (time and talents) helping this organization fulfill their mission?”  If they can answer “yes” to that question, you will also find that you have effective leaders helping you advance your church and its reach within the community even when you are absent. How great is that?


  1. Travel. When I travel for church business, is it mission critical to bring others with me at this time? Travel is one of the costliest ventures in ministry. Thousands of dollars disappear to airlines, hotels, rental car companies, etc. Ask yourself, can one person represent our interests or do we absolutely need more attendees (especially for initial exploratory meetings). Also, consider whether is it more cost-effective to host the meeting at your location rather than to incur the costs of transporting you and your team elsewhere.  Fight the temptation to take unnecessary representatives with you. Finally, consider online meetings as a free alternative, especially if your budget is small or if the potential rewards of the meeting fail to outweigh the costs of attending in-person.
  1. Staff. Constantly evaluate your staff positions for “mission critical” effectiveness. Do you have too many staff? Would consolidation of positions (perhaps with a small raise) be more cost-effective than separate staff with full salaries? Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate. This is completely acceptable and well within your responsibility as a senior pastor or director.
  1. Buildings. One of the greatest ideas that CityReach has encouraged its pastors to consider in recent years is to evaluate your building space and make a “mission critical” decision about what to do with it. Does your building sit empty for several days/nights per week? Consider sub-leasing to another church or company that could help share the costs. Is your building too large or too expensive to operate? These are the questions that a mission critical leader asks.


There are many more areas to consider and I am sure as you read this you are already brainstorming. Do not be afraid to ask tough questions and, when needed, make tough decisions. As a leader, this is part of what is expected of you by your church and your donors.

God is faithful and will guide you as a leader if you make Him a part of the decision-making process. Ask for His wisdom and you will begin to see things in brand new ways. Our goal is to expand God’s kingdom so be assured that He has a major interest in helping you become a mission critical leader.

Pastor Russ Cambria and his wife

Pastor Russ and Jen Cambria returned to Las Vegas in 2015 to plant CityReach Church Las Vegas East! Russ and Jen are joined there by several families that have heard God’s call and moved 2,500 miles away from their homes to serve in the church. Russ previously served as the Director of two Teen Challenge programs, a Board Member of Teen Challenge and Penn Del Charities, and the Registrar at the University of Valley Forge.

2018-01-17T00:21:46+00:00 January 5th, 2018|Church Planting, Leaders|