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7 Top Issues Church Planters Face | #2: Finances


Financial Self-Sufficiency and Viability

Money management is an ongoing concern in both the church and for church planters personally. It is easy to avoid these issues, which can lead to all sorts of disasters for the planter and church. Most planters despise the administrative part of ministry.

Planting a church is a risk-taking endeavor with an uncertain future. Planters are often thrust into fund-raising for the first time in their lives with little or no training. Many plants take years to become financially self-sufficient. Thus, they rely on other churches and donors.

It is a missiological axiom that churches become self-supported. But, as this chart shows, it can take awhile.


Five Ways that Church Plants Address Financial Viability

1. The Bi-vocational Pastor
Working a secular job as the main means of family support is one way of addressing the planter’s financial needs. The full-time job becomes a financial priority and attention to church ministry responsibilities is limited as a result. Receiving a full-time salary from the church is generally assumed to be the goal, and most would say that it is best for the church and the planter when possible. 

2. Talking about Giving to the Congregation
Some planters avoid talking about money at all. This may rob people of the giving blessing. Conventional wisdom tells us that people new to church do not donate much during the early years. Perhaps one reason they are so slow is because church planters are apprehensive to talk about this Biblical principle. 

3. Living within a budget
While many planters may have been involved in preparing a budget for an individual ministry in a previous job, few have been responsible for an entire church budget. A difficult challenge is the process of turning vision into a sustainable financial plan. Some planters become paralyzed and have trouble moving forward while others blindly move forward without a budget or a vision. The lack of experience includes the failure to budget for future expenditures. 

4. Personally funding the church plant
Like many entrepreneurs, planters often drain their savings and retirement accounts to pursue their dream of starting a new church. Using personal credit cards as start-up cash is more common than you might believe. This is a really bad strategy and it causes incredible stress for the planter and family. 

5. Launching as quickly as possible
Planters know that the ultimate answer to the financial need is in the harvest. So, launch day is often hurried with an eye toward generating offering to offset personal investments and ministry needs.

Conclusion (by Acts 29)

  1. We recommend that church planters who need to raise their own salary get trained in fundraising by Great Commission Ministries. GCM will provide the product for fundraising, the accountability, the encouragement, and the salary guidance and will provide practical steps. The small fee far exceeds the outcome. You can find their information online
  2. Secure a financial advisory team. You may have to use people outside of your church plant for the initial season. Find Christian men and women who are willing to invest time to establish a sound financial foundation. They can help establish a budget once you share the vision and mission with them.
  3. Never use your personal credit cards to fund your own salary or the immediate expenses of the church. If you use your personal funds or savings, make out a written loan to the church signed by the corporation board members.
  4. Get the book, Money: God or Gift by Pastor Jamie Munson to teach your members about giving.
  5. Establish a personal budget and let it guide your spending, giving and saving. Be sure to add insurance and retirement to your church salary as soon as possible.

"But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8).

Want to learn more about finances and church-planting? Consider attending one of our upcoming boot camps.

Abbreviated from a Report Prepared by Exponential and Ed Stetzer.


Crystal Jones

on Sep 8, 2011 :: 6:58 pm

This is a great post! As we begin raising support to plant overseas, we'd love to something with even more detail in the future. It would be interesting to see a profile of a few different planters and what their support journey looked like (as well as the steps they took for financial oversight, reporting, etc.). This is especially valuable for those of us who are raising funds outside of a missioni board or large church.

Luke Simmons

on Sep 8, 2011 :: 9:51 pm

A very helpful book related to leading the church in areas of finance was Maximize by Nelson Searcy. It helped me think through the systems related to stewardship and giving.