Thinking of planting a church? Consider these three tips.
The church planting movement is growing all across the country, but establishing a new religious organization and growing it to become a successful congregation are two very different battles. There are certain challenges that church planters may run into and should be aware of ahead of time. This gives you the opportunity to work proactively to face these struggles head on, and better overcome them to put your church on the path toward success.
Here are a few of the top challenges that can come up during the church planting journey, and the ways you can avoid these issues with your initiative:
Obtaining the right funding
Every organization, from a retail business to a religious institution, will need some type of financial resources on hand to support their mission. This is particularly important at the beginning, as numerous expenses will come up early on. This includes costs connected with the location, the proper insurance and other important resources necessary to support the congregation. Rev. Marty Caulty is an experienced church planter and Director of Coaching and Content for the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church. As Rev. Caulty noted in Discipleship Ministries, some planters believe that if the vision for their congregation is powerful enough, funding will simply fall into place naturally. Rev. Caulty himself thought this was the case, but after reflecting on his experience, he would have changed his strategy to include better financial preparation.
“While it’s true that God supplied all my needs, usually at the last moment, I know that I should have secured significantly more money prior to heading out to plant Morningstar Church,” Rev. Caulty recalls.
In order to be successful in a church planting mission, the proper financial support must be much more organized and concrete, and should be planned out before the major parts of the planting initiative have even started. Requesting community support through investments, local business partnerships, donations, and opportunities for funding from parent religious organizations can help immensely. Rev. Caulty, who was working in an existing church while also fostering his planting initiative, noted that in hindsight, he should have done more fundraising during the transitional time between the existing congregation and the church plant.
Obtaining financial resources early on can help reduce stress during planting and further ensure that the planting team has the adequate resources to follow through with the church planting plan.
Don’t go it alone: An opportunity to draw in new members
While some church planters may begin their journey as the solitary member, it’s important to rely on the backing of a team of supporters to truly put your planted church on the right path. As Rev. Caulty pointed out, no single person has all the attributes it requires to successfully plant a new church and grow the congregation. Having a few trusted individuals on board to help out will make all the difference, particularly in the early stages.
As Rev. Caulty did, it can be helpful to call upon members of a previous congregation as well as the assistance of the local community to help put a newly planted church on the right footing.
When recruiting for the church planting team, don’t be afraid to encourage those who aren’t currently associated with a religious organization to participate. According to statistics gathered by Portable Church, about 65 percent of Americans don’t identify as members of an established church. Of those who don’t currently consider themselves church members, about half – 47 percent – said they’d be open to an invitation to attend church with a friend. Being included in the initial planting can be exciting, and may even help those who don’t traditionally attend church become more interested in religious pursuits.
As you build your church planting team, keep in mind that this could provide a great opportunity to attract and retain new members. You’re not just building a group to support planting – you’re also fostering your future congregation.
Allocating resources appropriately: Create a plan
Even with funding in place, some planters run into problems due to a lack of budgetary experience, Christianity Today contributor Ed Stetzer noted. Certain unexpected costs might come up, or planters and their teams may forget to plan for specific, important expenses, which can leave funding and resource allocation in a lurch.
It’s particularly important not to overlook major planning needs, including:
- The ideal location. You don’t want to plant your church near another already established church, unless you’re sure that the community will adequately support both congregations.
- Outreach and community engagement. It’s important to spread the word about your newly planted church! Consider creating a church website, social media page or even just a simple blog to publicize the church and motivate attendance and participation. Holding events to engage with the local community can be a great first step.
- The appropriate insurance coverage. Once you have your location and have started building your congregation, make sure that you’re able to keep your church and your members safe. Things like inclement weather or safety issues can have a major impact on a newly planted church, but the right insurance will help give you confidence in your church and its mission.
It’s beneficial to speak to a veteran planter who has experience budgeting for a first-time church plant and navigating obstacles that may arise. Consider contacting a parent congregation or other religious organization to find someone who has planted a church before. Checking online religious communities can be helpful as well. In addition, requesting guidance from team members who may have financial experience can also be a great way to call upon the community the new church will serve.
“This person should be someone who has done this type of work before and knows the peaks and pitfalls of what you are going through,” Rev. Caulty said. “Loneliness is one of the biggest pitfalls of church planting, especially for parachute-drop planters. This mentor can be the person who brings fresh eyes to your ideas, hopes and dreams and helps mold them into workable ideas.”
With a partner like CM Select on your side, finding the right coverage and policies for your new church can be easy. To find out more, connect with our CM Select experts to get an online quote, or call us for more information and a detailed walk-through of our services.
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