September 25, 2014

Church Planting Basics: How Are Your Finances?

In order to secure the long-term viability of ministry on a scheme, we have to raise financial support. It is very rare for this to happen overnight, and so requires both faith and patience. Therefore, we need to be on the lookout for funding avenues at all times. This can come in the shape of grants, one-off gifts, and regular support. The key to good financing is not to put all our eggs in one basket. It is better, in the long term, to have broader support rather than one big donor.

We expect all of our planters to raise a significant portion of their support prior to joining us, although we will do our best to promote them at all times through events and conferences whilst in place. A key test to determine if a planter will be successful is whether or not he is able to raise the financial support needed to launch a church. This is a critical test because it can determine if a planter has the skills required for a new church-planting project. If a planter cannot raise sufficient support, it may call into question whether or not they can grow and sustain a new church in a difficult place in the long-term. A church planter must be able to convince people to give and continue to give throughout the life of the church in order to encourage good financial stewardship once the church is started. Because of our context, stable financial support is a necessity. We estimate that a scheme church will not be financially independent for decades (although, again, this can depend on many factors).

How the planter raises support depends on the planter and the context. Keep a keen eye on the finances. Do not allow a crisis situation to develop. Some planters may have to work bi-vocationally because of financial restrictions (a model favoured by the apostle Paul). At times, it may be helpful to plant bi-vocationally, especially if the “other” employment offers high visibility in the community or provides regular contact or communication with the locals. Other planters may have a spouse who may choose to work to support starting a new church. Still others may seek contributions from family, friends, or extended networks to raise the on-going support. Additional sources of support may come from a sponsoring congregation, a partner congregation and/or association (such as the FIEC in the UK). Regardless of which course taken, the planter must be able to ‘sell’ the new church’s vision and the plan in order to raise support for it.

We find that having a strong financial support base before launching a church takes an immense amount of pressure off once underway. We encourage people to raise long-term support because, again, we don’t want the stress of ministry in the schemes to be exacerbated by worries over finances. It is our experience that whilst our budget(s) for finance raising are relatively high (due to the high cost of living in cities) the Lord has always (and will always) continue to provide for his people.

Any further comments, suggestions, questions, and insights are welcome.