How Much Does It Cost To Plant A Church?

How much money does it take to plant a new church or multi-site campus? I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked that question. But, that question has no easy answer. Understanding the delicate balance between over-funding and under-funding is complex. There are many variables to consider when asking that question.

Six Questions You Must Consider When Planning A Planting Budget

1.Where are you planting? A city-center or hyper-rural area? These two areas are the hardest places to plant and take radically different approaches.

2. What are your expectations? If you are looking to plant a church of 75 you don’t need the whole enchilada. If you are trying to plant a church of 1,000+ you will need more dollars.

3. Who is planting the church? If it’s you, do you really have the chops necessary to plant the church in that location and realistically reach the expected outcome?

4. What model of plant or style of plant are you starting? High-impact/fast-growing or core-to-crowd/slower growth?

5. Can the place you are planting sustain the model of plant you want to launch?

6. How much are you bringing to the table? Listen, if you can’t raise money for a plant, then you can’t create buy-in nor cast vision very well. Those are two essential ingredients in launching a church successfully. If after a few months you can’t raise substantial dollars, you may want to reconsider if God has really called and gifted you to plant or whether you are planting out of rebellion.

These are just a few of the questions you have to ask before designing your planting budget.

All that being said, if you are not willing to invest multiple thousands into a church plant, don’t even begin. Remember the old adage, “You get what you pay for”? Whoever coined that phrase must have been a church planter. If you are a denominational leader and you want to start a fast-growing church by rubbing a couple of dimes together, remember, “You get what you pay for.” The quickest to kill a church plant or at least doom it to a life of anemic survival is to shortchange it.

On the other hand, if you are a church planter and you think that a denomination or sponsoring church should give you everything your heart desires, you’re wrong as well. Too much money can have a negative effect on a new church. Church plants are intended to become self-supporting as quickly as possible. Far too often, the cries from church planters for “More! More! More!” is answered with more, and the plant falls into a welfare pattern.

Church planting is, in many ways, a lot like raising a child. You would never think of having a child and then not spending some money on her. The baby cries out with hunger pangs, you buy formula and feed her. The baby yawns, droops in your arms, and you supply her with a crib. You would naturally tend to her basic needs. As she grows and learns to walk and talk, however, she will begin to desire different things. But you don’t give her everything she reaches for, do you? If you give a child everything she asks for, she becomes spoiled and dependent. A church plant is exactly like this. It will have many needs, but that doesn’t mean a denomination or sponsoring agency should supply all those needs without question.

  • Steven,
    You don’t address how much of his own money the church planter should be prepared to spend. Do you find that those who use as much of their own resourses as possible tend to have higher success rates. More skin in the game, etc. Thanks,
    Phil Spry

    • Phil,

      Good,question. I did state that the planter needs to be able to raise support. However, I don’t believe that the amount they bring to the table , personally, will change the game much. It may, in fact, do just the opposite. If a planter brings a lot of his/her own money to the table, they may not create enough buy-in or generate enough cash flow later on to sustain the church long-term. In some ways, they may become too independant and believe they don’t need any help. In my opinion, there is no substitute for good leadership. The kind that draws many to be invested.

      I do think it is necessary for them to be as invested as they are asking others to invest.

  • Bruce Webster

    30 years ago I would have seen no problem with what you say. However, by the early 90’s I was seeing churches not being planted and people not being reached based on that kind of thinking. Earlier in this decade Tom Jones had an article in Christian Standard in which he said it takes at least $200,000 to plant a strong church. One of the responses to that article was from one of 4 young men who saw a need for a new church in Chattanooga. They tried to raise those kinds of dollars but without a major backer only came up with $7000. They still planted a strong church. There is a stron church in Jasper, IN. The church planter lived at his parents and had a total of $75 a week in support.

    In a recording I have Bob Roberts, Jr. (his church had over 120 church plants at the time) says all that is needed is a pasion in the gut. The God of the universe will supply everything you need right when you need it. He indicates that when he planted his church he had 3 jobs. He did pretty well, 2500 plus 10s of thousands more in their church plants.

    When you look at the NT, church history and places in the world where Christianity is growing rapidly it is rare to find big dollars involved in church plants. I am convinced that our ideal model of church planting is among the top 5 reasons for the decline of Christianity in America. It is not working when you look at the big picture. We can’t do anywhere near what needs to be done doing high dollar church plants. I think it was in Viral Churches that Stetzer and Bird said we are close to maxed out at what we can do using our current methods.

    In 40+ years in close association with church planting (I was at the very first National New Church Conference (Exponential).) my observation has been that the groups that plant the most churches, not the ones doing the strongest church plants, are the ones growing the most.

    I, think we, including myself, asked the wrong question when we saw Wagner’s statement about church planting being the most effective evangelism. We asked, “What is the best way to plant A church.” We should have asked what is the best way to plant lots and lots of churches. The answer to those questions is very different.

    For Phil: In the 90’s we (East 91st Street Christian Church) had a church planter come to us with all the money for a church plant from a family business. He came to us for our advise and oversight. We added a small amount to his start up budget. Before he resigned to pursue other ministry related to church planting the church had grown to over 1000.

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  • Danny Martin Rosabal Portela

    is church plnting biblical?