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The Pastors Library
Budgeting Resources

Whether you've never thought about the prospect of developing a book budget or the time has never been right to approach your congregation about expanding the existing budget to include an allotment for resources in the pastor's library, this section will be beneficial to you. We have combined statistics and advice from pastors to help churches formulate a book budget that will benefit the whole church.

Choose the option that best fits your current situation:

What exactly is a pastoral book budget?

A book budget (also known as a book allowance) is a specified dollar amount set aside for pastors within the general church budget for the express purpose of purchasing books, software, and other resources that will benefit them in their personal study and sermon preparation. The size and scope of book budgets varies depending on the size of church and the church's financial situation. Pastoral libraries should not be confused with church libraries. Church libraries generally contain materials and resources mainly aimed at the general congregation, while pastor's libraries most often contain more in-depth, scholarly works like tools for studying Greek and Hebrew, lexicons, concordances, and other theological works.

Why are book budgets important?

Books budgets are important because they provide pastors with resources to improve the quality and depth of their personal study and sermon preparation. The Bible is the foundation of a pastor's studies, but using additional resources can assist pastors in gaining deeper insight into God's Word.

Surgeons are expected to consult the best books, journals, and studies before they perform a complicated surgical procedure. Why shouldn't pastors consult the works of well-known scholars and dedicated theologians who have spent years studying specific points in Biblical interpretation? Ultimately, book budgets give all pastors the means to tap into more of the knowledge and insight available today.

How can I get a book budget from my church?

All you have to do is ask! Well not exactly, but after prayerfully considering if a book budget would be beneficial to your study of God's Word and to those you minister to, the next step is to propose the idea to the governing body of your church.

Ultimately, pastors seeking a book budget for the first time or those seeking to increase their book budget need two things: information and patience. Pastors must be able to present a logical, fact-based case to their elder board/church board as to the overall value to the church that a pastoral book budget will provide. The Pastor's Library is dedicated to offering information that gives pastors the full picture regarding their libraries and pastoral book budgets. Likewise, patience is required because it can take some time for church boards to embrace this idea. In most cases, church boards are very receptive to the idea of making the pastoral book budget part of the general church budget.

The Pastor's Library has developed customized handouts to help you prepare for presenting a book budget to your church.

Click here to visit the book handouts page.

How much should my book budget be?

There are numerous factors that play into determining a proper pastoral book budget. Every church is different, whether it is the size of the congregation, the general focus of the ministry, size of overall budget, etc. Pastors at large churches are more likely to have the means for a larger book budget, while smaller churches may only be able to gather together a small amount of money.

For churches that have never before had a pastoral book budget, the idea of trying to squeeze an extra $200-500 out of an already tight church budget may seem infeasible. However, looking at the bigger picture, the benefits of having a book budget far outweigh the costs. In fact, a number of denominations stipulate a minimum acceptable book allowance for pastors.

In order to give pastors who do not have a book budget a point of reference, The Pastor's Library offers the Book Budget-O-Meter. Pastors simply enter their congregation size and the tool then provides an estimated monthly book budget based on a recent survey of hundreds of pastors that currently have a book budget. Every church is different, but this tool provides pastors with a point of reference for determining the proper book budget for their church and situation.

Click here to use the Book Budget-O-Meter now!

What can book budgets be used for?

Pastoral book budgets are generally handled in one of two ways in the majority of churches. Either $_____ are specifically allocated expressly for purchasing pastoral resources or $_____ are allocated for a number of pastoral obligations (i.e. lunch meetings, purchasing small group materials, etc.) including resources for the pastoral library. Some pastors prefer knowing the exact amount they can spend on books, while other pastors like the flexibility of spending more or less on books depending on other ministry needs. Both book budget models can be effectively implemented in churches of all sizes.

In both cases, the majority of pastors are permitted to purchase any resources which they deem to be worthy of adding to their personal libraries. This could include (but isn't limited to): Bible software, print books, magazine subscriptions, journal subscriptions, subscriptions to Internet-based resources, and music. New technology continues to introduce exciting tools to the pastor's arsenal of resources and the definition of what resources are included under the "book budget" umbrella must be periodically evaluated. For example, allowing print books, but not software, to be purchased with a book budget is like providing pastors with a car allowance, but telling them that they can't drive a car with power windows.

Click here to find out about Bible Software resources!

What books/resources do I really need?

When learning about and evaluating which resources to add to pastoral libraries, it is wise to consider a number of factors, including:

  • How portable do I want my library to be?
  • If I purchase print books, how many will I really be able to use for preparing my weekly sermon?
  • Can I save money by purchasing resources in collections rather than individually?
  • What are the must-have concordances, lexicons, Bible dictionaries, etc.?

Many pastors would scoff at the idea of that a pastoral library could ever be too large; however, unless you have a personal research assistant or dozens of hours to prepare a sermon, it is unlikely that you will even scratch the surface of your print library. Similarly, many Bible software packages include resources that the vast majority of pastors will never be able to use (i.e. versions of the Bible in obscure modern languages).

However, using powerful software programs (or a personal research assistant) can make fully accessing an entire library a reality. For example, what if you wanted to study instances of "worship" throughout the Bible? It sounds like quite a daunting task, but Bible software can actually make this study reasonably painless. Advanced searching features can comb your library for occurances of the word "worship" in all of your books, as well as develop topical studies based on indexes provided in your print materials. From there, it's up to you to work through your resources, but it is prepared for you and pages are you the more enjoyable end of the job!

Click here to view the Recommendations page and find out about key resources for your library.

How large does a church need to be to have a book budget?

A recent study conducted by The Pastor's Library indicates that pastors of churches with as few as 50 people have some kind of book budget. According to the survey, book budgets become relatively common in churches that have over 50-100 people. Also, larger churches tend to add book budgets for pastors other than their senior pastor, including: associate pastor(s), youth pastor, worship/music pastors, etc.

What are some of the key advantages of having a book budget?

The most obvious advantage to pastors is not paying for needed resources out of their own pocket. Most pastors today would agree that their budgets are tight and tapping into the family budget for an expensive commentary set usually means cutbacks elsewhere that can affect their entire family. A pastoral book budget allows pastors to acquire tools and resources they need without cutting into their personal or family finances.

A second key advantage of a book budget is that it allows pastors to obtain resources that they otherwise wouldn't have access to. Some would argue that pastors can have too many resources, but on the other end of the spectrum they can also have too few. Jumping into a four-month sermon series about Calvinism vs. Arminianism and not integrating the perspectives of Calvin and Arminius is like eating a tuna sandwich without mayonnaise. Having the financial freedom to obtain needed resources makes a pastor's work more effective and productive. Other advantages include improved sermons due to more thorough and all-inclusive preparation and a rounded, full understanding of issues and topics.

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