Tightening Your Belt With a Purpose: How to Budget During Tough Financial Times (by Joel Rainey)

Joel Rainey is the Director of Missions at Mid-Maryland Baptist Association, an adjunct professor at Capital Bible Seminary and blogs at Themelios (Twitter – @joelrainey). 

Nearly six years after a near economic collapse, our nation continues to limp toward what has proven to be, at best, an anemic economic recovery.  Its truly scary out there, and over the past three years, I’ve watched as the people in the churches I serve have lost their livelihoods, homes, and hope. I’ve also had a front row seat to the effect of these realities on the churches themselves. Over the past several months, I’ve had many conversations with pastors who are seeing fresh batches of red ink, and wondering how to move forward.

This is also the time of year when church leadership begin to start planning for the next fiscal year, and occasionally, I’ve seen elder boards, finance committees, and pastors hit the panic button when their church started hemorrhaging financially. In the economy of the “new normal,” everybody is feeling the pinch, and trying to determine how to do more with less.

There is a positive side to this. For years, many churches relied on fat incomes. Now that streams of income have grown fewer and more anemic, churches are learning to depend on the Lord. At the same time, I’ve seen quite a few knee jerk reactions to a drop in giving. Though these reactions, for the most part, are motivated by a noble desire to “save the church,” an over-reactionary approach to what the corporate world calls “austerity measures” can result in a demoralized staff, a culture of panic ministries with no resources to operate, and a church adrift in “survival mode.”

With all this in view (and with apparently no end in sight to our economic woes), I’m going to suggest a different approach. In the past year alone I’ve heard from several pastors who have had their salaries drastically and suddenly cut because of panicking financial administrators. I’ve seen ministries and mission efforts stopped in their tracks because the “bean-counters” reacted in fear, and I’ve seen churches unintentionally publicize desperation to the communities they are called to give hope to.

In other words, when you react to bad economic times by simply saying “cut, cut, cut,” here is what you are saying to your church, and your community: “We are going to try and keep doing everything we have done before. We just aren’t going to do it as well.”

To be sure, no organization can continue spending more than it takes in (I’m waiting for the government to learn this lesson–perhaps in vain!) But there is a right way and a wrong way to cut spending. “Austerity measures” without a clear purpose don’t communicate that you are responsible. They communicate that you are cheap!

So, how do you “cut with a purpose?”

1. Get ahead of the tsunami! Have good, sharp people on your financial team that can project income/giving trends in a way that allows you to prepare in advance. If you know a storm is coming, you can prepare for it in a way that minimizes the damage. Giving a pastor or staff member 60 days notice that they will have to absorb a huge cut in salary demoralizes staff in a way that can sometimes render them impotent to continue leading. A sudden freeze in spending not only damages effective ministries, but sends shock-waves of panic throughout an organization. People will honestly wonder if their paychecks are the next thing to get frozen!

On the other hand, if projections indicate that austerity measures might be necessary, communicate the reasons clearly, and communicate the plan as soon as possible. Get ahead of the problem, plan for it before it arrives, and give the people who work for the organization time to plan for it as well!

2. Re-visit your Vision and Mission. This is why I prefer the term “retrenchment” to “austerity.” “Austerity” simply communicates that an organization is reducing its spending. “Retrenchment” communicates that an organization is facing tight financial times with its purpose and mission clearly in view.

The first question to ask in tight financial times is not “what do we cut,” but instead, “What are we supposed to be doing?” The mission of God’s church does not change simply because there isn’t as much dough in the offering plate as their used to be. Though cuts must sometimes be made, making those cuts without first reassessing what the organization is called to do can unintentionally sabotage that mission. Every organization can cut spending, but no organization should cut things that will be to the detriment of the mission.

3. Jettison tangential emphases and the expenses needed to maintain them.During more affluent times, churches will often say “yes” to a program or ministry that might not be central to its purpose, but will fund it anyway because, well, the money is there.

In leaner times, when a church reassesses expenses in light of its mission and vision, the first things to go should be those things that weigh down the organization rather than help it to accomplish its goals. Most or all of these ministries may be good. But the church as a whole is ALWAYS more important than any of its parts. Don’t de-fund a ministry central to the operation of the church and expect it to continue. Instead, defund ministries not central to the operation of the church, bury them with dignity, and move on!

4. Staff according to the new reality rather than merely reducing staff for the old reality. Too many churches and organizations, when seeking to cut spending in personnel, simply ask “who gets to stay, and who has to go.” Both of these are the wrong first questions! Instead, construct a “new normal” in light of the overall purpose of the church, and ask how that “new normal” needs to be staffed. Yes, this may still mean that someone loses their job. But the question of whether someone keeps their job should never be answered only in light of the church’s financial situation. Once tangential emphases have been eliminated and the next strategic steps of the church are clear, staffing decisions should be made in light of what it will take for the church to move forward. In one sense, you might call this “zero-based staffing.”

Just because you can “afford” to keep someone doesn’t mean you should. Conversely, tight financial times, in and of themselves, do not justify demoralizing a solid, faithful, and successful leader.

Austerity measures have become the norm in many churches and organizations. But cutting spending doesn’t mean you have to be cheap. Tighten your belt with a purpose!

Comments

  1. Todd Benkert says

    Joel, in light of #3, where do you see missions giving in the hierarchy of emphases given that it is central to the church’s purpose, but not to its operation?

  2. says

    Great question Todd. Though I understand why you made this distinction, I would push back a bit on the contention that missions giving isnt central to “operation” given that from a Biblical standpoint, a church isnt “operating” according to God-honoring standards if missions isnt central to how it functions. That said, my experience consulting with churches has taught me that most have nothing that resembles what you and I would call a coherent philosophy of missions, and therefore have an incoherent approach to mission support. In short, I dont believe churches should eliminate missions during tight times because to do so is to be disobedient to Jesus. At the same time, a church cant blindly think to itself that missions giving alone will result in God honoring them and bringing them back to fiscal health. If you go broke, you cant support missions any longer. If you starve your pastor in order to give to the Association or CP, you disobey the Pastoral epistles in order to obey the Great Commission. But at heart, these issues, which on the surface appear to be financial, are in reality philosophical. So for example, why cut “across the board” in a way that simultaneously hurts the CP, your Cru missionary, your World Vision donations, your NTM donations, that delapadated church building you want to help rebuild in Utah, and your year end gift to BGEA? Rather than give minimal sums to all, establish a priority. But unless you have a clear philosophy of missions that informs your financial investments, you won’t be able to do this. In many ways this subject requires a separate post, but again, its a great question.

  3. William Thornton says

    Let’s not be too hard on bean counters, most pastors I know being clueless about many aspects of church financial management.

    I wish for more examples and specifics in this, although I think Joel gives sound advice. The best advice was in his comment, “If you starve your pastor in order to give to the Association or CP, you disobey the Pastoral epistles in order to obey the Great Commission,” although I would argue that much of CP giving and associational giving are not related to the Great Commission. This calls for the same degree of discernment and evaluation as does considering one’s own church spending.

    There was a time when in order to keep a valued staff member on board, one who had kids in high school and a wife in college, we cut associational and CP giving. We could see the value added to our church and ministry of the staff member. The value brought by associational and state convention staff was less evident. We did maintain, even increased genuine Great Commission giving to Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong.

    Others may handle their financial challenges differently.

  4. says

    Again, the missions giving piece is only one part of the puzzle, although Im thankful to see from the two comments so far that it is recognized to be a significant piece. Another post would be necessary to unpack this aspect. William, I appreciate your comments, but must distance myself from how you extrapolated from my one comment. I flatly disagree with your contention that most CP giving has nothing to do with the Great Commission. The assumption that Annie and Potties are the only legitimate channels and that state and association giving is simply not valued solely because it is “less evident” is as gross an oversimplificaton as I have read, and candidly, a textbook example of the kind of incoherent philosophy of missions I reference above. My statement about starving the pastor was an attempt to advocate for balance, not a cheap shot at state conventions. You and I have had this discussion before in this venue so I am aware that we disagree, and I respect your position relative to you own geographic location, but I hope you understand why I need to state my disagreement with how my statement has been represented, and why I feel the need to push back against the broad generalizations that I sense are being made. I do hope you are well.

    • Nate says

      Joel,

      There must be some underlying issues that both you and William are not sharing then, because it appeared to me that you were reading far too much into William’s comment.

      I think William made two very good points. First, pastors are usually not savvy enough with finances (both personally and corporately) because seminary doesn’t train them adequately in these matters (in my opinion) and, secondly, cutting from giving to Associations, State Conventions, or even National Conventions, in order to be able to support the pastor is not a flat-out disregard for the Great Commission.

      While William may be implying more than what can be read and you may be responding with more than be understood does not take away from the fact that a church that will put their pastor or pastoral staff into financial difficulty in order to preserve giving to the CP would be against Scripture.

      Now, that doesn’t mean that a church couldn’t advocate refocusing and re-tooling, but they certainly should (if eliminating pastoral positions) give the staff time to seek other opportunities and look to assist in a myriad of ways. While a shortage of giving could come in one large chunk (wealthy family leaves), it rarely occurs that way. Furthermore, any church setting up their budget based on 1 or 2 wealthy families is not being very prudent.

      If pastors are going to lead well, they should have an understanding of finances. 1 Tim 3 speaks to that fact. They shouldn’t lead the church if they can’t manage their family.

    • William Thornton says

      Joel, quote me accurately, then disassociate yourself. I said “much” of CPA and Asso. giving “are not related” to the GCR. Not “most”. I think my assertion is incontrovertible.

      Neither did I say that Annie and Lottie are the “only” legitimate channels [for missions giving]. You might start over on this. I think you missed too much of what I actually wrote.

      • William Thornton says

        I’ll try and respond later to what I think you are so sensitive about…don’t have time now.

      • says

        Thanks Nate….and William. :) Nate is correct that William makes some very good points, and also correct that there are underlying issues related to our comments toward one another. In fairness, the issues we discuss are issues related to two very different regions of the country. So, I can understand why William might feel the way he does from the perspective of a Georgia Baptist–since I don’t live there and he would obviously have a better view than I of the stewardship expressed by his state convention. I only truly know the Convention with which I have worked for the last ten years, and most of the GCR-related claims stating that state level missions giving was “wasteful” are simply not true when it comes to Maryland/Delaware Baptists. So yes, in the wake of a 5-year conversation at the national level, some of us who actually work in pioneer areas are a bit sensitive when it comes to the broad generalizations that were made. William, I apologize for responding to you from an understanding of your words that was apparently mistaken.

        Additionally, I think, again, that this is just one part of the equation when it comes to making tough budget decisions, and would say as I have before that if you don’t know who you are as a church, and have a clear understanding of your overall mission, your financial decisions will likely be miscalculated. In that respect, William’s comments giving “real life” flesh and blood to what I state conceptually can serve as a helpful example, and I’m appreciative of that.

    • Mary Ann says

      Annie and Potties? Thanks for a good laugh. Lottie probably doesn’t think that’s too funny, though.

  5. Chris Johnson says

    Joel,

    All of these things are good practical steps to follow, especially from a pure business perspective. I would suggest a more fundamental and structural change to the “business” itself.

    1. If a Pastor is caught off guard with respect to compensation, then he or the members he serves have a much bigger trust problem. Possibly a better approach is to recognize that the economy is waining (not a hard thing to discover since the lowest point in the US was 7-8 years ago, with some of the ripples flatting out, yet the new normal is simply less jobs) and to meet more often to plan for the storm. If the storm has pasted or near the end, that is not a good position from which to plan. If a plan cannot be sustained, then the planning was inferior. In other words, fully fund the plan. Some people like to think that poor planning is stepping out in faith. I would say, that is not faith at all; but some sort of forced initiative that can be called faith “if it works”.

    2. The term you use “retrenchment” is really just more informed planning. There really is not a good reason to cut, if the fundamentals are sound.

    3. Tangentials…..Why would you have any anyway? A lack of stewardship has always been a failure, even if you have money.

    4. Maybe the new reality should be understanding ministry. Staff has all to often become a “corporate” or “professional” endeavor for larger churches. Most SBC churches are 75 people, so staff is always limited. True ministry looks at mission, not the paycheck. If people depend upon the paycheck to minister, there are better options.

    Just some thoughts,
    Blessings,
    Chris

    • Nate says

      “True ministry looks at mission, not the paycheck. If people depend upon the paycheck to minister, there are better options.”

      Chris, would you mind fleshing that out a bit. I hear you on the one hand, but pastors do have to take care of their families. And, many churches are against pastors taking 2nd jobs, and if they do, probably will not cut down on the expectations for the amount of hours they expect from the pastor.

      I don’t want to read too much into your statement, but one’s family comes before one’s ministry.

      • Chris Johnson says

        Brother Nate,

        That is an excellent question and one that would take a more detailed post to take a more thorough look at the many options, which would address some of the false impediments placed upon or even accepted by the Pastor in many instances.

        Just a few things:

        1. Ministry is truly not a business. So, in other words, ministry never ends.

        2. If a man of God is blessed with a wife and a family, they are the priority and if doing the work “pastoring” interferes with the Godly task of properly maintaining the family, then he is not qualified to Pastor anyway. I realize that some men believe they are called to Pastor at all costs, even their family. But, that is simply a deceptive and sinful way to think. So, if you qualified to pastor in your congregation, then by all means aspire to that (1 Timothy)!

        3. If your congregation thinks that you don’t need to support your family, you have two choices. a. Tell them and prove to them that taking care of the family is Godly, and what the requirements are. b. If the church is immature and does not understand that concept, or are unwilling to support those requirements, then you have no other option but to support your family as a Godly man and move on; or persuade them that “tent” building is a Godly pursuit, and remain on to help them mature, as you fulfill the monetary requirements of taking care of your family.

        Always remember that every person in the church has a ministry, not just you. The Pastor/s have the awesome responsibility of leading, instructing, and demonstrating the love of Christ at all costs. Simply do that!

        Blessings,
        Chris

        • Nate says

          Chris

          Thanks for expanding and I agree with pretty much everything you said. I do think however, that churches need to examine their Scriptural responsibility to provide for their pastor. I responded below to Doug with some relevant passages.

          I think most churches tend to look at budgetary issues from a poor perspective, and cut money from the men they have set apart to be pastors, prior to cutting from other areas. As I said elsewhere, they certainly can cut from pastoral funds, but should give adequate time and advance notice to their pastor and/or staff in order to allow that man to have time to continue to take care of his family, and not merely eliminate a position. That’s what the world does, it should not be what the church does.

          • Chris Johnson says

            Brother Nate,

            To address where the loci of responsibility to the doctrine of “worthy of double honor”, it is primarily with the Elder/Pastor, not the church at large. What I mean by that, and from my earlier statement, that the Pastor’s responsibility is to teach and teach often the principle of worthiness. But, it is still up to the Pastor to demonstrate the need, early and often as part of the overall fabric of the church and her ministry. If some board, elected committee or such is cutting Pastors without the intimate knowledge of that Pastor, then that church is in sin. There is nothing more distrustful than a committee begging the Pastor to wait for an answer of worthiness.

            Case in point:

            During my 35 years in full time ministry, I have had full time pay, part time pay, and no pay from the body. If the church is able to support a man or men to lead and Pastor, that is definitely the priority whether that comes by way of a check or other means. No paycheck does not lessen the mission though. Today, I receive no pay. That is a blessing, because I am able to acquire more income and distribute to missions more effectively within the church in various ways.

            I think young Pastors, (and old lazy Pastors) get the “worthy of double honor” thing out of context. Since, the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church body is always worthy of double honor. The ability to provide money to support a man to elder/pastor in a church body is a greater question.

            Blessings,

            Chris

          • Nate says

            Chris,

            I think we are in complete agreement. I am currently a bi-vocational pastor and my church understands the complexities of this and is gracious about my time commitments.

            If, however, churches have money available to support a pastor, and chooses to expenditure that on other items, I personally think they are not following scriptural guidelines, they are actually hindering the capability of a pastor to exert more time to his ministry.

            Blessings on your work and commitment to the gospel.

  6. says

    On the “tangential” employees–one of the things I think about is the number of churches that started compensating folks to do what volunteers had done. For example, basic yard care, Sunday morning nursery, perhaps even Sunday-only music accompanists…the list varies depending on your context, perhaps you do need to compensate folks for those things.

    But often it seems we started paying people to do what should be occurring as part of the ministry that belongs to the body itself. Sometimes, it happens so that the pastoral leadership can be “in charge” in a way that volunteers will never sit still for. Sometimes, it’s because the church has decided to write checks instead of getting their hands dirty.

    Sometimes, it’s out of a noble desire to provide meaningful work with compensation, which is worthwhile. After all, I would suggest it’s better to employ someone with dignity than to constantly give handouts to them. (So would Paul, I think, based on a few of his writings.)

    Many of our churches need a complete rethink on why we pay *anyone,* including full-time pastors, and make sure that finances entrusted to a church by the Lord, through the Lord’s people, are being used in the right way.

    • Nate says

      “Many of our churches need a complete rethink on why we pay *anyone,* including full-time pastors”

      Doug, would you mind giving some biblical evidence as to why you wouldn’t pay “full-time pastors.” I think your other observations about payment to upkeep of the church are certainly valid points.

      Here’s a short list of scripture that advocate paying pastors. 1 Tim 5:17-18; 2 Thess 3:7-10; 1 Cor 9:9-14;

      • says

        I didn’t say we should never pay full-time pastors.

        But find Biblical warrant for every person we pay and call a “pastor” in modern American churches. Find Biblical support that we should be professionalizing: organizing Sunday School; teaching youth; planning children’s trips; taking senior citizens on bus tours; and so forth…

        Additionally: name the full-time paid church leadership in the New Testament that are not Apostles.

        Paul says the workman is worthy of his hire, but he also set examples of working when needed and not taking anything from churches.

        If all a church is doing is paying a pastor to avoid church membership from having to do the work of the ministry, then there’s a problem.

        And most churches don’t pay a full-time pastor because of Scripture. They do it because of habit. Just because they need to rethink *why* they do it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do it. But “We’ve always done it that way” is lousy reasoning, and in the average Baptist church, that’s the reason for why they pay a full-time pastor.

        • Nate says

          Doug,

          I hear where you are coming from, I think. I read into your “full-time pastor” statement as regarding what would be classified as senior pastors, lead pastors, and/or teaching pastors. As I cited, I do believe there is scriptural warrant for paying them.

          “Additionally: name the full-time paid church leadership in the New Testament that are not Apostles.”

          The verses I mentioned were to churches about paying their leaders, and Paul was not speaking about apostles. I think you are really stretching exegesis to read into those passages that only refer to apostles.

          As I said before, I agree with you about ancillary responsibilities that the members could quite easily perform.

  7. Chris Johnson says

    Brother Nate,

    You got it right my friend,

    Unfortunately, those “mega” and “larger” churches get caught up in the “business” of ministry and teach the smaller churches some very bad habits.

    I thank God that some, very few, but some of the larger and mega church Pastors see the benefit of not receiving a paycheck, and live off their royalties, etc. from publishing. Mega churches that load up a Pastor with lots of dollars, do him a great disservice which devalues his double worthiness.

    Blessings,
    Chris

  8. William Thornton says

    Joel, I agree with your general principle of budget reductions. The only examples you gave had to do with mission expenditures, at the church level (Cru, BGEA, etc) and the SBC (CP and asso. missions). I gave my own church’s example. We found a staff member to be a better expenditure of scarce dollars than some of our associational and CP dollars, while maintaining our level of giving that got to NAMB and IMB.

    If a church should scrutinize their budgeting and spending in light of the Great Commission and their role in that, then it is certainly fair for any church to evaluate the destination of their mission dollars. I acknowledge that associations where I have served in the legacy south would not fare as well in comparison to your association in MD. The traditional associational structure in each of the locales I have served consisted of a staff member who consumed most of the budget, office and office staff which consumed most of the rest. Associations have to demonstrate relevance and value to the churches they purport to serve rather than being a job creation entity for well-connected pastors who wish for a pre-retirement change of vocation. During my 30 years as a pastor, three of the five AMs where I served were this type. Two of the associations are now on life support.

    • says

      Thanks William for your comments, and believe it or not, I agree. My first pastorate was in an Association that did next to nothing, and our church was the largest giver. I fought (without success, being young, inexperienced, and not yet trusted–probably for good reason overall :)) to have that amount eliminated or drastically reduced. Since becoming a DoM, I have not forgotten my own feelings, and seek to run this organization in a way that I would want it run were I a pastor whose church was supporting it.

      That said, you and I have had this conversation before, and I will still contend from our previous exchanges that those associations–all of them, belong to the churches, who can directly change their future trajectory. Here is my fear: If churches are unwilling to invest the time into the radical change needed for missional cooperation at the most local of levels (which I would advocate with you would include a radically new vision of what they do, and might include a few folks losing their jobs!), then eventually, that apathy will find its way to the national levels. This is why I will continue saying that if you don’t value the local association, work with other pastors to change it.

      Thanks for interacting with me on something very sensitive to my own heart, and as always, I appreciate your words.

      • Tarheel says

        Joel,

        associations in small areas are very difficult to change. Primarily because, as you just stated, the way to bring about the changes by partnering with other pastors….tenures of pastors in rural areas are very, very low. About the time you build relationships, they are gone.

        In fact many pastors who had been here for a while coast toward retirement and sometimes you even have those moving into the area to coast to retirement or as a layover on the way to something better.

        Those types of pastors are certainly not willing to help others change the trajectory of an association.

        • says

          Thanks for your comments Tarheel. You make a very good point here. Here is my point, which I think your comments actually reinforce: If the majority of our churches are rural, and the majority of those rural churches employ pastors who have no real long-term interest in their own church, let alone their town or region, and if as a result the majority of Associations are dying and adrift in a sea of irrelevance, what is it that makes us think our state and national level entities aren’t far behind–since they serve at the pleasure of those same churches? This is what is frightening to me–that we don’t see this connection, and simply think that jettisoning the local connection which is admittedly dysfunctional in many parts of the country, and reallocating our resources to national entities will solve the problem. Eventually, I fear this is going to catch up with us. It may already have.

          • Tarheel says

            Yea, I see that.

            It seems that the SBC may be doing like the secular USA – forsaking the roots of local governmemt structure and looking the the mighty and “better” national structure for hope….if ya know what I mean.

            Sadly though, just like in the government, once we realize what we’ve done- it may be too late.

  9. Jess says

    I don’t think retrenchment will work in many of the churches in the SBC simply because the band it ready to break. There are many small churches can show that a loss of a hundred dollars will put them in the negative column for the month.

    I think retrenchment would work for some churches, but in others, “no money, no pay”.

  10. William Thornton says

    For the record, I think Joel Rainey is a super guy and we have no history other than old fashioned baptist disagreement. Were he to like mustard in his BBQ sauce, we might have a problem.

    • Tarheel says

      Lol….can it even be called BBQ sauce if it has mustard in it?

      I certainly think not!

      • John Wylie says

        And you call yourself a Tarheel? Mustard in BBQ sauce is as North Carolina as it gets.

        • Volfan007 says

          Mustard in BBQ sauce is just downright blasphemous.

          David “Sweet and Spicy” Worley

          • volfan007 says

            yep, mustard is S. Carolina, but N. Carolina does something just as bad…vinegar!

            DAvid

          • Tarheel says

            John,

            I’m glad to see you sorted out your grave error – thinking that mustard in BBQ was NC style.

            Vol,

            NC BBQ is world renown and craved by any who desire real BBQ.

          • cbscott says

            Actually, mustard is a cousin to Turnip Greens. Mustard has nothing to do with B-B-Q. . . and there ain’t no B-B-Q in any Carolina be it North or South.

            However, the Mustard and Turnip Greens are fair to middlin’ in North Carolina, ’cause they got vinegar . . . lots of vinegar. And all vinegar is fit for is Turnip Greens and Mustard. . . . never B-B-Q.

          • Tarheel says

            Oooooooohhhhhh…….CB ….. You said cousins. ;-). ;-)

            Now back off the BBQ critique since you hail not from NC – you do not know of what you speak. ;-)

            One of the benefits of Living in VA and Close to the NC line is that it allows me to dart over into Gods country when I get a hankering for some real Lexington Style BBQ.

    • says

      Well William, I’m a native South Carolinian who didn’t know there was an alternative to mustard-based sauce until adulthood, so you may in fact have a problem with me after all. ;)

      • William Thornton says

        I used to live in SC and would eat at Maurice Bessinger’ BBQ with the mustard sauce. It was OK. Preferred Sweatman’s when I was in the area.

  11. Roger Simpson says

    Tarheel:

    When you mention Lexington Style BBQ are you talking about
    Smoky Joe’s BBQ, on 11th and Main in Lexington NC?

    • Tarheel says

      That would be one.

      Old country BBQ in Greensboro is another.

      Carter brothers in High Point ain’t bad either.

      But Lexington BBQ is a style of pork BBQ not to be confused with Eastern NC BBQ.

      • Tarheel says

        Allen and sons and Stameys aren’t bad choices either.

        Lexington uses only pork shoulder- it’s darker and tends to be more moist….eastern tends to use the whole hog therefore resulting in a drier product – though not always.

        Neither should have ketchup or mustard in it…although some places do that. I think both ruin it….but if I had to choose I’d take the ketchup.