It is sometimes said, perhaps only somewhat jokingly, that church planters are after one thing: money. We will do anything to find individuals, churches, networks or agencies who will financially support our church planting vision.
Believe me, I get it. The financial pressure associated with planting a church is overwhelming at times. In the early days, a church planter is faced with moving to a new city, finding a place to live and putting food on the table each night, and he can be paralyzed by the fear of meeting the financial needs of his family and young church.
These realities can cause him to be hyper-focused on fundraising. If he’s not careful, once someone agrees to help fund the church plant, he may subtly confirm the stereotype and take the money and run. While he would never say it, his actions say, “Thanks for the help but I’ve got more money to raise, sermons to preach and people to disciple.”
Church planters must be zealous to maintain an ongoing relationship with those who support them. The relationship must be defined by more than a monthly newsletter filled with lists and nice stories. Rather, church planters should go out of their way to ensure that those who support them know they are truly a part of the church planting journey.
Here are some ideas on how to do that well:
Say “Thank You”
My buddy Jeremy Chasteen at Crosspoint Church in Clemson, South Carolina says that the mantra of fundraising is always, “Thank before you bank”. Before you deposit the first check from a new donor, take the time to send a note thanking them for their support and partnership in ministry.
Mass emails or social media posts are helpful, but impersonal. Take time at least twice a year to write a personal letter to express your gratitude to everyone who has supported you financially over the past six months.
We all have short windows of unexpected free time. Maybe you show up to a meeting a few minutes early or your next appointment is running a few minutes late. Take those opportunities to make a quick call or send a text message of thanks to the first person who comes to mind.
The answer is “yes.” If a church has served you by funding your work, then you have an obligation to do everything possible to speak at mission conferences, weekend retreats or church gatherings if asked. If you find you are too busy, then you either need to cut other things out of your schedule or decline to take money from so many churches. Showing up and saying “thanks” in person demonstrates honor and respect to those who have helped us financially.
Technology affords you the opportunity to quickly capture a compelling story of God’s work in your church—be it a quick interview with someone whose life has been changed or a story you share about something God has done. Don’t stress about video quality or lighting, simply capture the story and send it out to your supporters.
If you are doing the things above, then you are positioned to leverage social media to share stories of God’s work in your church plant. The Internet allows people who may not attend your church or be able to visit to catch a glimpse of how God is using the money they have invested. Don’t squander this method of redeeming technology.
Finally, people love to come alongside of you by praying for specific requests. You can involve them in your work by sending a note or text message to your supporters about an upcoming meeting or important training that you are having with those in your church. This allows them to feel like they are doing more than simply writing you a check each month, but are continuing to support your work through well-informed, timely prayer.
With proper intentionality, a church planter can show honor, respect and gratitude to those who are so vital to the work we do each day.
For more information about fundraising for your church plant watch or listen to this episode of We are Send Network.
Published March 12, 2020