How Do You Fund a New Church?

There are a handful of questions most potential church planters ask.  Some are personal: “Is God really calling me to this?”  Some are very practical: “Where will the money come from?”

If you’re wrestling with that one, here are some options:

  1. You’re independently wealthy.  You wouldn’t be asking if you were, but some planters are.  If you are, good for you – now go put your money to work.
  2. You support yourself by working bi-vocationally.  Paul made tents.  Obviously that means you have less time for ministry, but it also means you don’t have the pressure to “grow fast so you can get paid.”
  3. You are supported by a denomination, network or parent church.  If someone is willing to pay you to start a church, you’ll have a huge burden lifted. Keep in mind that kind of support almost always comes with expectations. The expectations may be things you would do anyway.  They may be things you consider well worth doing in exchange for the support – just make sure you know what the expectations are, and that you are willing to work towards them.
  4. You are supported by others outside your church plant.  This is the American “missionary” way.  It works. You need a network of relationships, a clear and compelling vision and a willingness to ask everyone in that network to support you.  If you’re not willing, that may be an indicator of some things that are going to stand in your way in the future.  If you don’t already have the network, building the network is very difficult and time-consuming, and asking strangers for money is doubly hard.
  5. Your are supported by others inside your church plant.  You need people to go with you on this mission.  If they aren’t willing to put their money in it, they aren’t on mission.  Theoretically 10 tithing families can support a pastor at the average income of the group.  Question is, even if you have the 10 families, do you want all their giving to go to pay you?

Each option has its pros and cons.  Practically speaking, it will make a huge difference simply to figure out which one, or which combination, of these options you’re going after – and then go after it.  If you’re going to be bi-vocational, start preparing for that now.  If you’re raising funds, start building your network.  If you’re going to depend on a team, start gathering them.  Most of the funding fiascoes I’ve observed grow out of lack of clarity.  A planter hopes they are getting denominational support, so they don’t fund raise, then when the denomination’s money doesn’t come, they are left in the lurch.  A planter hopes to raise outside support, but doesn’t start raising the money soon enough and then realizes it’s harder than they thought.  Money should never be a hindrance to the work of God.  Get clear on your funding and get going.

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