Many churches do not have the finances or pool of resources to be able to reach out to large segments of the population. At times churches may not even have the resources to fund some basic ministry needs. Churches need to network with other churches and organizations, but there are some things you should be aware of when doing this. Here is some guidance for you about building a church network for financial help
Why a Church Network?
You’ve heard the saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” While this is a saying I personally have never liked, it does speak to a point that is true in many aspects, including church life and ministry. Building a network helps you and leaders in the church you serve to avoid pitfalls and step into new opportunities you may not have realized were possible.
Your church network can help you grow as a pastor, learn from other pastors, gain insight within the community you serve and be a blessing to other churches and ministries you partner with. It also will allow your church to expand its financial strength when it needs it most. Don’t forget that networking can help your church and others with community outreach!
Establishing a Church Network
Churches are not immune to financial problems — and often replants and church revitalizations already have a few – but being able to have a networked community can help churches overcome financial crises. When confronted with financial hardship, the first step is to identify the problem. Do you know why the church is in debt? What mistakes have led to that situation? Are there financial needs the church just can’t afford?
Before you start the journey with any financial issus, it’s important to set goals. I recommend setting tangible goals that can be accomplished within three to six months and then build on them as time goes by. Remember, it’s important to celebrate wins, but if that win seems too far off and unreachable, it’s hard to keep momentum going toward it.
Having a clear goal in mind will help focus efforts on the church’s progress and not think so much about what other churches/organizations are achieving. You might have a pastor in your city who has led their church to raise $5,000 for ministry work relatively fast, but don’t feel pressured into following their lead if they are using methods that may take longer for you or even put you at risk of spending more money than necessary. Focus on the attainable goals you set where you are and glean wisdom where you can within the network you are working to create.
If setting large goals makes it intimidating for you to start acting right away, break the goal down into smaller steps and work on them one at a time until they become habits that require little effort from your side. Meet with other pastors or reach out to your local association and explain your goals and see how they may be able to encourage and support what you are doing. Eventually all those small actions will add up and allow you to accomplish more than what was originally thought possible.
What to Expect When Meeting with Other Pastors and Leaders
- Expect a conversation. As much as you’re trying to get others to learn more about your ministry, they’re also likely doing the same thing with you. When possible, try to set up a time to meet with them in person. Meeting at their church or office will make it easier for you as well.
- Anticipate new relationships and possible partnerships. If everyone is focused on sharing resources, then there will be an increased potential for collaboration between ministries in the future.
- Do some homework ahead of time. Make sure you know what needs are present within the community your partner ministries serve before meeting them for the first time.
Reaching out to other pastors and ministry leaders doesn’t mean that each one will financially network with you – but trying won’t hurt anything either! In fact, as they become more familiar with the church you serve and its unique opportunities and abilities, they may even reach out to you in the future!
Know what you need, know what you have to offer, and be ready to have some productive conversations.
As you begin to think about what you need and who can help, keep in mind some key principles:
- Know your story. Your church’s story is important. It communicates your goals, vision, and needs – as well as your strengths and triumphs. The best way to share the story of the congregation is by inviting one or more of its members to talk with decision-makers in the meetings you’re setting up, so they can hear firsthand stories of people whose lives are being transformed.
- Be prepared for productive conversations. Have a list of questions ready that will help guide decision-makers through understanding the critical issues facing your congregation and how resources and funds can be used effectively to address them. For example: What are the core ministries that impact lives at the church? What impact has this ministry had on those it serves? How do we measure success?
Often, we find ourselves not wanting to network, especially if it means we may need to ask for financial help. However, it is important. We’ve all heard the saying “We can do more together” and I promise you it is true! It certainly can be hard work, but don’t be afraid to do the hard work as God uses you for His glory in the church you serve.
Published April 29, 2022