Finding the right cattle on the right hills
Church planting takes money. I get it. As a church planter in greater Seattle, I get it. You have the vision. You have the training. You have the prospectus. All you need now is the money. Where will the money come from? How will you fund these amazing plans?
Scripture reminds us that all of our resources come from the God who owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10), but which hills does God want you to climb? What will your approach be? Will you go Dale Carnegie and pull out the old rolodex or George Muller and roll out the prayer rug? We must first recognize that apart from an abiding dependence upon Jesus Christ, we “can do nothing” (John 15:5). I encourage other planters to apply diligent dependence in their efforts by fully trusting in the Lord by depending upon Him in prayer, and working as hard as possible when seeking to raise funds for their church plant. In the fundraising process, here are the six hills to climb:
1. Establish a Sending Church.
If you do not have one primary church which will serve as your mother or Sending Church, this should be your first step. Your Sending Church will ideally be one that already has a strong relationship with you and will be committed to a significant, long-term investment. One responsibility of the Sending Church should be to serve as an advocate for your church plant, introducing you to other potential partners and supporters.
2. Choose your network(s).
There are many great benefits involved with choosing to associate with a church planting network. For SBC churches, the North American Mission Board’s Send Network is a wonderful choice, providing not only funding, but also care, training, coaching and a family to belong to. You may also investigate other church planting networks, which provide opportunity to find additional partners and streams of support. However, be mindful of the fact that it is possible to have too many networks. Association with a network requires commitment and capacity, so beware of spreading yourself too thin. Find the network that works best for you, your vision and philosophy of ministry and give 100 percent.
3. Reach far and wide.
Most church plants will need the support of many partner churches. Those churches will range from large and mid-size to small. As you enter this phase, do not eliminate any friend, acquaintance or ministry connection as a possible partner. I have found in this process that God will often surprise you in who He leads to partner with your church. Search through all your contact lists (phone, email, social media), and create a master list of every potential contact you can reach out to. End every conversation with a potential partner by asking, “Is there anyone else you would recommend I talk to?” When possible, set up as many face-to-face conversations as possible. Prepare yourself. This process can be a very time consuming and discouraging one. Yet, it will also be important in building your resolve in the face of rejection as well as sharpening the presentation of your vision.
4. Consider friends and family.
In addition to partner churches and networks, many church planters have friends and family members supporting them or their church on a personal level. If you are currently serving on staff at your Sending Church, be sensitive to their expectations and desires when it comes to reaching out to individual members for support.
5. Look at bi-vocational opportunities.
For many church planters, a full-time job may be the biggest source of church planting funds. However, even for the planter who feels led to be full-time in ministry, there may be an opportunity or need to find a creative and flexible part-time income that supplements the salary coming from the church plant.
6. Start with a strong core team.
Every strong, tithing family you can recruit to join you in the vision to plant the church, is the equivalent of a partner church. A church plant that begins with five to ten core families who are committed to tithing will be exponentially more likely to be self-sustained financially than the church with one or two core families.
Climbing “hills” is never easy. Welcome to church planting. Yet, throughout the fundraising process, the faith-fueled church planter will find a special blessing that comes from seeing God provide for the needs of the church plant. God will work through your prayers, your hard work, your relationships and in unique ways beyond your expectations. Just remember, these are God’s hills…and God’s cows.
Published June 21, 2017