How does your church invest in marriages? We can all agree that healthy marriages don’t happen by accident—it takes intentionality. It takes a committed investment.
Because our pastors believe that healthy marriages build healthy churches, they stand firmly behind our ministry to MarriedPeople. With their support, our team has the distinct privilege of helping couples strengthen their marriage by encouraging them to build the Core 4 Habits into their relationship.
One of those Core 4 Habits is to “Have Serious Fun.” We get behind this habit by offering a once-a-year marriage event called “Caliente, A Night Out for Married People.” The goal of this event is to provide a non-threatening environment where married couples can reconnect through laughter, fun and community.
No matter the size of your church, you can invest in marriages through an event like this, too. Here are some things to consider as you begin to build a budget for your event:
Without a “why” behind your event, you’re essentially taking couples on a trip to nowhere. You’ve heard it said “if you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” On the other hand, if you have a goal and can identify the “win” it will help you eliminate the unnecessary and stay focused.
The why behind our event is for couples to protect their marriage by having serious fun. The definition for “serious” is earnest, or wholehearted. We want couples to be committed to having fun.
As leaders we are committed to providing opportunities to do just that, this event being one of them. Before you do anything, know your “why.”
Who is your audience? Consider your community—ethnicities, culture, income, children (childcare)—it all matters in planning your event.
Who is coming helps determine the food you will serve, the entertainment and music you will bring in, and how many childcare workers you’ll need (we have a lot of kids at our church).
What do you want to accomplish? We want couples to find a reason to laugh, reconnect, discover community and ultimately have a stronger marriage because of our event.
Once you define the “what,” you can start talking with your team about how to execute the vision. And clarifying the “why” and “who” makes determining the “what” even easier.
This is the fun part! We believe that how we do what we do is just as important as what we do. No matter the size of your budget, staff or facility, you can create an environment that achieves the goal of your event.
We’ve found that there are a few key components to a successful event. Below are some of the categories we plan for when budgeting for our events:
- Entertainment/Speaker: This is often the biggest expense. The average cost of a reputable speaker is anywhere from $3,000-$5,000. That’s the average, so if you have a smaller event, keep in mind there are speakers for less. You may even find some who are free!
- Band/DJ: This is second piece of the “fun factor.” We typically hire both—a band for the program itself and a DJ for the “after party” immediately following the programmed part of the event. You may have people at your church who are gifted and willing to donate their services, or charge a minimal fee.
- Environment (decor, set up, theming): You can create a fun environment on a shoestring budget! There are lots of ideas out there and if you have some crafty people on your team, recruit them to help. You can keep it simple with a few photo op areas, table toppers and background music from your iPhone. Or go all out and bring in a DJ, live band, and inflatables. As you’re planning, avoid overly feminine decor. If you lean in any direction, lean more masculine.
- Food: I’m going to state the obvious here—get as much for your money as possible. And keep the men in mind when you consider your food options. No chocolate covered strawberries or chocolate fountains.
- Childcare: We highly recommend offering childcare at your event. Include any cost for food, crafts, etc. in this category. Be sure that your childcare providers are background checked and have been interviewed to insure the safety of your kids.
- Security: In this day and age, we want to make sure everyone feels safe. We build this cost into all of our events. Determine if this is something that could add value to your event.
- Volunteers: We want to show appreciation to our volunteer teams. Providing food for them when they work our events is one small way we can do that.
- Thank-you’s: We always follow up with “thank-you’s” to team members that serve at our events. This can be a simple thank you card, or treating them to coffee. Don’t skip this!
- Games – To create some fun, we invite 3-6 couples to compete to win a prize in a couple of platform games. There will be cost associated with supplies for the game, but it should be minimal.
- Giveaways: Reach out to some businesses in your community for donations. You’ll be surprised at how many are happy to donate gift cards, memberships and services. If you can, get 3-5 donations, the only cost you will have is the supplies for presenting the gift (gift boxes, ribbon, etc.).
- Ticket sales/registration: How many do you expect to attend? The number of seats sold will be a determining factor in the cost of the ticket. If will you be using a third party, like Brushfire or Eventbrite, consider building the cost of the service into the ticket price. Other costs may include physical tickets or wristbands for entry, will call lists, etc.
- Greenroom: Anytime we bring guests in (like a speaker), we like to go the extra mile in caring for them. Ask in advance what their favorite foods and drinks are so you can have them ready for them when they arrive. Then you can provide snacks, their favorite coffee/drink and a warm meal for them when they arrive.
Add up all of these categories and any additional ones you might have (we have a few others not listed), divide it by the number of seats you plan to sell and the number you get will help you determine your ticket price. Here’s a sample:
|Food ($3/person X 500 attendees)||$1500|
|Childcare ($2/child X 300 children)*||$600|
|Volunteers ($4/volunteer X 25 volunteers)||$100|
|# of couples attending (1 ticket per)||300|
|Approx. ticket price per couple||$25|
*You may need to cap the number of children you’re able to care for!
With proper planning, your event can pay for itself, which is a win in itself. But the biggest win is the joy you’ll experience when you begin to hear the stories of marriages that were saved, transformed and strengthened because of your investment.
Over time, you will start to see healthier marriages, stronger families and a thriving church.
James and Lisa Duvall serve on the leadership team at Christ Fellowship Church, a multi-site church in South Florida. James is the Executive Director of ministries, and Lisa leads in strategic development and Sisterhood, the church’s ministry to women. James and Lisa have been married for 26 years and have three kids and a pit bull.