Fundraising 101 for Church Planters

By Chris Phillips

Money is perhaps one of the largest stressors in church planting. So, here are seven things to keep in mind as you seek out financial partners for the sake of the gospel going forward in your community.

Embarking on the journey to start a new church is a thrilling endeavor fueled by purpose and vision. Constantly abuzz with napkin sketches, ideas, and excitement, the mind of a future planter is in constant motion. However, the challenge of funding your vision to fruition can be overwhelming. Depending on the launch model and location, one might have to raise over $1,500,000 across three-to-five years for church sustainability, which is a monumental task. Yet, amid the financial quest, let’s not lose sight of the core mission: to reach those spiritually disconnected from Christ through church plants.

As funded churches enjoy the liberty to impact their communities, let’s delve into pivotal strategies for church planters aiming to raise funds through partnerships. These strategies go beyond financial transactions, focusing on fostering a community that ardently rallies behind your mission, translating into tangible life transformations within your community.

1. A “no” today is not a “no” for tomorrow

In the realm of fundraising for your church plant, anticipate that you’ll need to approach a significantly higher number of potential partners than you may think. While it may not align exactly with traditional sales cycles (closure rates around 3%), adopting a wide-net approach remains pivotal. Every interaction is a chance to refine your approach, gather insights, and establish relationships. Remember, a “no” today doesn’t equate to a closed door forever; rejections could transform into future partnerships with continued prayer and conversation. Examples abound of churches initially declining involvement, only to turn into enthusiastic supporters down the line.

2. People believe in you before they believe in your church

As a new church planter, your church may currently exist largely as a concept. Existing church plants might still be a distance away from self-sustainability. Recognize that, as the face of your vision, people and organizations are more inclined to support your cause when they believe in your personal authenticity, passion, and dedication. Forge connections, share your personal journey, and transparently communicate your mission. Building this personal bond transcends mere monetary transactions and showcases your conviction in leading the way.

3. Knowing your community matters

Effective fundraising hinges on a profound grasp of your community’s values, needs, and aspirations. Tailoring your pitch to align with their concerns underscores your church’s relevance. Demonstrating how your church addresses these concerns resonates deeply, making potential partners more likely to invest. God has called you to a specific community for a specific purpose and an intimate understanding of your community sets you apart and signals a genuine commitment to making a lasting impact.

4. Stories of life change matter

Narratives hold a unique power in conveying your church’s impact to those you wish to engage in partnership. Compelling testimonies of transformed lives tangibly illustrate the difference your church can make. Personal stories evoke emotions, fostering empathy and motivation among potential partners. These narratives give your mission a name, a face, and a heart, transforming potential partners into active supporters. Building community relationships and sharing your ministry’s impact through stories create a relatable bridge that sets you apart from a plan on paper.

5. Having a plan matters

Failing to plan is planning to fail. This adage underscores the importance of articulating how raised funds will be utilized. A comprehensive plan should outline your budget, current shortfall, projected self-sustainability timeline, required engagement, and more. Offering this clear plan from the outset reassures potential partners of your transparency and accountability. A well-structured strategy not only engenders trust but also elevates your chances of successful partnership.

6. You have to spend money to raise money

In a cultural landscape teeming with opportunities for everyone, standing out is essential. To make an impression, invest in a professional presentation. A cohesive branding approach across web, print, and social media platforms communicates seriousness and credibility. You must allocate resources up front for impactful collateral and targeted efforts to capture attention and create a lasting impression for those you wish to join you on mission.

7. This is about the kingdom, not your church plant

While fundraising centers around your church plant, the broader mission transcends individual endeavors. A thriving partnership benefits both parties. Recognize that partnerships encompass financial support, prayer, and on-the-ground engagement. When you remember this truth, you can empower your partner’s missionaries serving your community to live on mission in their own community, which fosters mutual growth and kingdom impact. The more you can help your church partners’ people live on mission, the better both your and their communities are at representing the kingdom of God.

Fundraising for a church plant goes beyond monetary transactions; it’s about cultivating a community of passionate supporters. Embrace rejections as learning opportunities, remember that people believe in you before your church, invest time in understanding your community, weave compelling narratives, present a comprehensive plan, allocate resources wisely, and envision partnerships as a collective kingdom effort.

Through these strategies, you’ll foster partnerships that extend far beyond financial aid. You’ll create a network of devoted individuals journeying alongside you, collectively impacting lives and catalyzing community transformation. Your mission carries weight, and your commitment to advancing God’s kingdom beckons others to join your remarkable journey.

As you stride forward with unwavering determination, trust in God’s guiding hand. Where God calls, He provides. Step into His provision and know that in forging these partnerships, you are erecting pillars of support that will underpin your church plant’s future impact, growth, and fulfillment of divine purpose.

8 Steps to Embark on Your Fundraising Journey today:

  1. Exegete your community
  2. Engage your community
  3. Craft a tailored plan based on insights from #1 and #2
  4. Budget strategically with God-sized vision
  5. Showcase God’s work through your own personal leadership
  6. Harness various communication channels to effectively share your story
  7. Establish meaningful connections through calls and messages with anyone you can
  8. Pray for God’s divine intervention as you watch His plans unfold

Published August 21, 2023

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Chris Phillips

Chris Phillips is founding pastor of Journey Point Church in Denver, Colorado. Prior to church planting and moving to Denver, Chris was on staff at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. Prior to starting in full-time ministry, Chris served as a volunteer leader and deacon while working in the business sector as a medical sales representative. Chris holds a B.S. from the University of Tennessee and an M.A.C.M from Liberty University. He is pursuing an doctorate in executive leadership at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Chris is married to Libby and they have four children.