Summary: You may have discretion over your own “operational budget,” even if you don’t make the final decisions on the “staffing budget.” You could create a detailed plan for how to leverage a small portion of your operational budget to develop a "stipend staff member." This can help reward commitment and hard work among top tier volunteers, and create a deeper ownership of ministry.
In a church, the budget is divided into different categories. There is a "staffing budget" for staff salaries and an "operational budget" covering curriculum and supplies. Senior leaders do not like to add employees, inflating the "staffing budget." However, a children's pastor, even a small church, has discretion over their operational budget. Layout a detailed plan for how to leverage a small portion of your operational budget to develop a stipend staff member.
Consider a paying a stipend of $25-$50 per month to your top-tier leader. A small monthly stipend achieves two important things. First, it rewards commitment and hard work. Second, you as the leader have slightly turned the tables by making them an "employee" and in a very subtle way they feel deeper ownership and responsibility to the ministry.
There is an interesting psychological transformation that happens when you begin to pay an individual, even a nominal amount. The individual feels an intrinsic sense of value, as well as responsibility. Since they know this is being paid to them by the local church, not a fortune 500 company, they will not expect thousand dollars a month. However, a simple $25-$50 "thank you" for the load they are carrying can actually work wonders for their psyche and carrying capacity. In conclusion, a little pay can honestly go a long way. Consider how to create a small stipend program for key areas.