One of the toughest yet simplest parts of planting a new church is figuring out the budget—tough because you want to make the best use of your limited funds; simple because there aren’t too many ways a tiny church-planting budget can be spent. Because there isn’t much money to begin with it makes it very important to have a plan and not waste what you’ve been given. Below are four steps that can be used to create a successful budget and create realistic expectations for a new church.
Identify support. Recurring givers and faithful members are the lifeblood of any church, and it’s no different for a church plant. Before setting any kind of budget it’s critical to gain a good understanding of the amount of financial support you’ll start with as well as a reasonable assessment of the amount that can be counted on regularly each month. Both one-time gifts and recurring tithes are important. Don’t be afraid to ask for money from the people who have it. The money in determines the money out.
Set priorities. As a new planter there are really only two major things you can spend your money on—salary or rent. A new planter needs to ask what will create the most value for the church. Is it vital for you as the planter to be supported with a full salary, or is it more important to use your funds on a meeting space and take a part time salary—or none at all?
Be conservative. There are few things more stressful for a new church planter than running out of money and having to change everything or close up shop. Build savings into your budget. Even if it’s a small amount each month, building in savings into the budget from the get-go is extremely important. If there’s a month or two when a few people forget to give and income doesn’t quite meet the expenses, you’ll still be ok. You may have to have some uncomfortable conversations with your members, but the church isn’t going to shut down.
Set a culture of generosity. If the leaders and the church exemplify generous giving, it’s natural that the people will follow. Scripture calls believers towards individual generous giving and sacrificial living. The leaders of the church should boldly proclaim this and not be scared to talk about giving or the church’s financial situation. Plan to give as an organization, and let the people know they’re a part of a generosity cycle that does not end with their giving to the church.
Planting a church is difficult and money is a stressful but important aspect of planting. Remember that God always provides for our needs, and we’re responsible to be good stewards. Spend your money on eternal things.