Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Funding Your Vision by Matt Rogers, and is used with permission.
Most church planters, missionaries and pastors understand the value of money and the critical role it plays in fulfilling God’s calling in their lives. Yet, they often treat fundraising as little more than a necessary evil before they can move on to the work that is seemingly more important.
As a result, typical fundraisers bolt out of the starting blocks with passion and energy. The first leg of the race often goes well, characterized by God’s provision; however, after this surge, the going gets tough. They meet some obstacles. They grow tired. And then, they begin to rationalize the need to move on to more important responsibilities:
- “What’s a little debt, at least we’ve got some money in the Plus, if we wait to build this new building, it’s going to be too late, and we are going to start losing people.”
- “God’s called me to plant a I know I’ve only raised enough money to make it for a couple of months, and our family has no money in savings, but we’ve got to get after it. We’ve got a core team in place and a city in need of the gospel. I can’t sit around and spend any more time raising money.”
- “We’ve been poor I’ll empty out my retirement money and pick up a second or third job. Surely if we scramble for a year or two, we will have a tithe base to support a full-time pastor.”
- “I’ll just figure it out as we go I’ve been waiting for years to be overseas sharing the gospel, and nothing is going to stop me now.”
Our excuses are endless, demonstrating how easy it is to downplay proper funding for God’s calling. The difference between having 20% of the needed funds and having 100% is stark. Consider a few of the results that come from being fully funded.
YOU ARE FREE FROM WORRYING ABOUT MONEY
Financial stress muddies our thinking and consumes our thoughts. Unless you are a rare individual with massive brain space to spare, you will find yourself limited in what you can attend to at any one time. In the context of a church plant, we have much to attend to once we start staff meetings, small groups, sermon preparation, counseling and mission projects. Those who lack full funding have the incessant sound of fundraising hovering overhead, demanding attention or worry. Often, due to the demands of day-to-day ministry, this mental margin is relegated to the hours we spend tossing and turning in our beds trying to fall asleep or to the time we should be praying for the needs of others.
YOU ARE FREE FROM THE BURDEN OF INSUFFICIENT FINANCES
If you have a family, rest assured that your financial stresses are not limited to you alone. The whole family feels the strain of bills that need to be paid or necessary expenses that have been deferred. The wear-and-tear of finances on a family can lead to untold strain on marriages and children, who invariably experience the secondhand stress that money often brings. Full funding is not meant to allow a family to live in luxury or match the standard of living of their peers, but it should free them from having to wonder whether or not they will get their next meal.
YOU ARE FREE TO FOCUS FULLY ON THE MISSION
Full funding propels missionaries, church planters or pastors on the mission God has birthed in their heart. Every person has a limited capacity. Let’s assume that a person lacks full funding, and in turn, allocates 80% of their capacity to the work God has called them to and another 20% to fundraising. The exchange may appear helpful over the short run, but compounded over several months, the 20% of time adds up. The allotted 20% of time represents counseling sessions you can’t do, sermons preparation that you must neglect, mission in which you cannot engage and a host of other meaningful work that goes undone. Imagine the effectiveness of a missionary who devoted six months of 100% intentionality to the work of fundraising and was then free to devote 100% of their time to the work of international missions for the rest of their lives.
YOU ARE PROTECTED FROM THE TEMPTATION TO GROW FOR THE WRONG REASONS
Church planters are particularly susceptible to the temptation to force their congregations to grow quickly so they can establish a tithing base. The lure of quick growth may cause these pastors to hastily move up the launch of a Sunday service or shy away from hard conversations with potential church members. They may drive home on Sunday afternoons thinking, “I wonder how much people gave today?” instead of asking, “I wonder if we are taking the proper steps in planting this church?” Most church planters discover that who does not stay in the early days of the church is just as important as who does stay. Full funding gives those who stay a pastor with the freedom to run off wolves without worrying about the implications on the tithing base of the church.
YOU ARE ABLE TO ADD OTHER PEOPLE TO YOUR TEAM
Plural leadership is vital for healthy church planting and mission work because omni-compotent individuals don’t exist. Church leaders who are self-aware will recognize holes in their giftedness and call on others to fill these gaps. Yet, insufficient funding makes it all-but-impossible to add others to our team. Who in their right mind would want to join a team when those who are already on the team are constantly scrambling to provide the needed funds for their families? No one. But, when our needs are met, we can clearly, compellingly and realistically invite others to join with us in God’s mission. Only if we have been successful in raising money are we positioned to help others on our team to do it as well.
YOU HAVE THE TANGIBLE EVIDENCE OF THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD
Finally, full funding places a constant reminder of the faithfulness of God in front of you on a daily basis. Like the nation of Israel, you will be able to sing songs of God’s kindness for the rest of your life. I still remember sitting in Panera Bread and opening an envelope from a potential donor. In it was a pledge card that pushed us over the threshold of the money we needed to plant our first church. As my eyes filled with tears, I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness. This is a memory I’ll never forget, and reflecting on that moment propelled me to trust God during many days of self-doubt and discouragement.
The theological and practical basis for fundraising should motivate you to embark on this journey. Yet, mere exuberance is not enough. We must have a plan.
For more information on fundraising for your church plant listen to the Fundraising for your church plant episode of the We are Send Network podcast.
Published October 22, 2020