Frugality, Orange-style

In this economy where many churches are cutting budgets or delaying spending, I firmly believe when it comes to budgets sometimes less is more. I often describe our philosophy about environments by saying we get 80 percent of the WOW for 20 percent of the dollars.

I confess our philosophy didn’t start out as a philosophy but rather a necessity. When creating our children and student environments, our budget was quite limited. Yet, while the budget reflected the limit of our financial resources, it did not limit the creativity of our people resources. For our team, the challenge (and the opportunity) became how to best leverage those funds to create environments that met our desired goals. We found having limited resources in fact generated greater creativity, producing environments that became more personal to kids, volunteers, and the team.

After determining the theme for our spaces, our team settled on picking one WOW item per area and designing around it. In our elementary spaces we designed a city park theme with businesses surrounding it. Our WOW item in the entrance was a tree made from plaster and forms for concrete columns. We created a diner in our first grade environment and were able to recover diner booths from a restaurant that was remodeling. For our fourth- and fifth-grade environment, a local climbing wall operator built a climbing wall for our Extreme Park and for second and third grade, a theatre ticket booth was built by a handyman volunteer. Each item was done as inexpensively as we could think of, then we painted around those features to finish the look.

Check back tomorrow for some other practical ideas on how you can create amazing environments for less. Meanwhile, share in the comments the ways you’ve done this in your own church.

Brian Vanderark is senior pastor of family ministries at Ada Bible Church in Ada, Michigan.