Too many church plants start well, but fall by the wayside in year two or three because of a lack of funding. After initial support dries up and the young church is left to grow on it’s own, it’s often too big a burden to bear. So the planter takes on a second job and the second team member has to relocate. The handful of people who were supporting the vision and funding the majority of the budget begin to wonder if their sacrifice is making any difference just as they get a postcard from their old church.
A church is a spiritual thing, but here’s a reality you must embrace: Money changes things. When the money dries up, you have to make difficult decisions that affect the quality and quantity of ministry you provide to your community.
But money also makes ministry possible. Imagine if you could fully-fund the vision that God has given you. Imagine what would happen if you were able to see financial growth from the inside instead of watching outside support taper off. Imagine the possibility of leading generous people who are eager to meet the financial requirements of a growing church.
That doesn’t start when you have services, when you break the 200 barrier, or when you find a permanent location. Leading a financially healthy church starts before you even have a recognizable church. Here are some things you can do before you launch to create a culture of generosity in your young church.
1. Make it normal to talk about money. If it’s weird to talk about money early on, it’s going to feel weird to talk about money after you launch. One of the best things you can do is just make it normal to discuss money. It’s a Biblical subject, and it’s a practical subject, so embrace it.
Don’t apologize for talking about what the Bible teaches – make it normal to talk about money from day one. If people are going to jump ship because you preach a sermon on stewardship or boldly ask people to fund the vision, let them jump ship early int he process.
2. Lead your core group to give generously. I was talking to a church planter about the size and commitment level of his young core group, and he told me that while he had about 25 or so people in his core group, about half of them were still attending and giving to their home church. I told him his core group was half the size he thought. Financial support is one of the most telling signs of commitment level.
If your core group doesn’t give, they won’t give after you launch. There’s no generosity button people push that turn them into faithful supporters.
This is important because what your core group does early on, your entire church will do on a grander scale later on. Leading a generous church starts with a generous core team, no matter the size of the team or the place in the process.
3. Communicate clearly. From your prospectus and strategic plan, to communicating your needs to potential supports, to updating donors on what happened with the money, clarity is the key when it comes to communication. Too many church planters write flowery communication with Christian or church-planter buzz words that don’t mean anything to the reader.
Don’t make up a budget – do careful research and report the facts. Don’t label everything missions – clearly articulate where the money goes. Don’t thank all of your supporters – individually thank them for their specific contributions.
Church planters, leading a financially healthy church starts in the planning process.