One of the big issues in most forms of church planting is money. I truly believe in the final analysis all success at some point gets down to money. It is difficult these days to raise the nearly $300,000 it will take to get a start going over three years. One idea is to look at a different kind of start to get things rolling.
First, you could begin a network of small groups and begin meeting only once a month. A friend of mine met once a month for his first six months and drew a group of 69 people. One of the key elements of these groups is to get a group of 50 people before you start publicly. This also builds a financial base before you start. You will need to have three solid partners who want to work with you in leading and filling the groups. And it will entail being bi-vocational.
Second would be to raise sufficient funding to do a conventional start. It is advisable to work toward $50,000 in commitments for starters. Your initial group’s pledges for a year can be part of this. Again in this approach it is advisable to be bi-vocational as you build a strong core group. There are many fine books out on developing the launch. I like Nelson Searcy’s book more than most. But either way you go you will need money committed and I recommend doing that before you start.
Third, you could map out a plan in a city that is two to three years in length in the preparation phase. Make regular visits to the location. Do some special events. And build a track record for investors to be enticed by. You will need a good team to help with this. I am developing a site right now using this method. Part of my plan is to mentor a leader for the start and using social media to build a following in the area. Once we make some progress and have some wins under our belt I will seek to raise money with the team for the project.
I know of a leader who spent five years visiting a city that was a five hour flight away from his home church. He went once a month. He developed a track record. And the financial load was light. You will need to have God open some doors so you have people on-site to build from.
Of course there are many more methods to get things started in a church plant.
How do you attract support? Here are a number of ideas & strategies that can work:
- Develop a solid plan for the first three years and begin passing it around.
- I think getting grants isn’t worth the effort as no one gives enough money to make any difference.
- Get a coach who has experience planting churches to guide you. They can also be part of adding credibility to your quest for funding.
- Set an initial target for funds that covers the pre-set-up phase. Figure in travel of the site and cost of initial events.
- Gather a group of ten people who can begin giving significantly or seriously to the plan one year or so ahead of the start. It is best to collect pledges. If you can’t gather a group ahead of time to help you are likely to fail anyway. I have tried to do it with less twice and failed both times.
- Work and volunteer with another ministry. Develop a track record of performance and you will have an easier time raising funds. If you can’t build someone else’s ministry you won’t build your own.
- Make friends within ten churches. Don’t ask for money. Ask for publicity of your plans.
- Raise money from family for your first three years. Treat it like a business start up.
- Don’t take any money for a salary out of the funds you raise for at least one to two years as a pastor. I have done this and again either failed or hindered the church.
- Develop a board of reference including many people who are not part of the church plant. Find people who believe in you. Have them help you with strategies and ideas. And you will need a strong prayer team. It is my feeling that planters usually don’t have enough partners on all levels when they start.
- Develop stewardship systems early on so the group generates funds for its development as well. You may as well bite the bullet and get used to asking for money early on. Oh yes, it’s a myth that unchurched people are offended by talk about money. The reality is from my experience that disobedient Christians are the ones who get negative about money talk. From the start you need investors not observers.
- Denominational support can be incredibly helpful. But few groups have enough money to give enough to make a large difference. I find so many planters frustrated with how little financial support they get from the denomination. Your denominational setting is the location you are placed to help build a family of churches. Don’t think like a taker – think like a builder and partner. You will get a lot further.
- Build a network of fellow planters you can go to school on. I could save you a world of hurt because I have succeeded and failed often. Many of your peers will be learning things as they go along too.
- Have a very, very good website. And use social media and present your needs.
- Show me a track record, a present state of progress and the potential you have in the future and I am getting my checkbook out. I have seen dreams and visions. I don’t give to them anymore even my own I am suspicious of.
- Always have a plan B and C you are working on in terms of a financial back-up.
- I am not a big conference goer. I speak at them. But I have found getting a one on one with as many leaders as I can works best in building a network of ideas and support. Conferences are good for inspiration but mostly they are great environments for people to sale books.
Give me a call if you want some help Doug.Murren@gmail.com or phone me at 206-391-9814.