Funding a Church Plant: Conversation with a Church Planter
Troy Mini, home missionary with the Assemblies of God, recently spoke with AGTS Director
of Development and Alumni Relations Paul Martinez about the process of raising funds for
a church plant. He received his masters degree in theological studies from AGTS
in 2003. Troy and his wife, Dawn, are itinerating this summer and plan to start a church
Rapport: One of the most daunting challenges facing church
planters today is funding. How are church planters raising funds?
Troy: I really think the best way to start a church is to be mothered. Often
a mothering church will commit time, finances, and people. Having those extra people can
become crucial for momentum at the beginning. If there is a strong church in your area,
this is great. But you cant just go up to a pastor you don't know and spring your
vision on him. With the pastors permission, get involved in the church. Let them
get to know you and get to know your heart. Then, when the pastor allows you to present
your vision to the church, not only does your proposal have a better chance of being accepted,
but you can also inspire individuals within the church who share your vision. The supporting
church might send those people out with you to plant the new church.
Another option would be district appointment. Some aggressive AG districts have raised
millions of dollars for church planting. There may be districts just waiting for a willing
and qualified planter to express interest. They might even link you up with a strong church
in the area that could lend resources or people. Some districts will support you for up
to three years. Find a district that is aggressive for church planting and is willing
to get behind it with some finances.
Rapport: What method did you choose?
Troy: I felt home missions was most appropriate in my situation. As an itinerating
missionary, you have the opportunity to share your vision with so many churches and individuals
who can get on board with what you are doing. Some churches, in addition to supporting
you monthly, might catch the vision for specific projects. I know of one situation where
a church planter was sharing his vision for reaching Chicago with another church. He showed
them pictures of the building in its current condition. The church caught his vision and
decided to furnish the entire building. Individuals even invested in restoring all the
bathrooms and gymnasium. So, there are benefits to sharing your vision with a broad base
of people. Also, a broader base of support offers more security. If it takes a while for
your church to get on its feet, churches and individuals who give smaller amounts of money
are often more willing to continue supporting you than a single district or church that
is bearing the entire financial burden.
Rapport: It seems like itineration might be an intimidating
process. How did you get started?
Troy: Before we were actually appointed, we sat down to "name storm,"
so that we could hit the road immediately once we were appointed. We wrote down the name
of every individual or church we could think of that might be interested in partnering
with us. This gave us an idea of how many people and churches it would take to raise the
kind of money needed to plant a church. Some people make the mistake of only seeking funds
from churches and are on the road two years or more in some cases. But, individuals can
be tapped into as well. There are a lot of people who would be more than willing to give
to your ministry if you would just ask them. After writing down our list, we prayed about
Rapport: What did you do once you were appointed?
Troy: We began to call the people on the list. You have to be willing to get
on the phonewe simply called and shared our vision, and we booked over 20 services
in our first two weeks! I found that the best way is to schedule a face-to-face meeting.
And, knowing how much stuff will cost can be helpful when youre doing this. Just
about every time I was able to sit down with a pastor or friend and tell them about what
we were doingshowing them the need and pictures of the cityI came away with
one more supporter. It was almost like you didn't even have to ask. We would share our
vision and they would ask how they could help.
Rapport: How do you plan for the possibility that not
everybody will follow through on their commitment?
Troy: Well, don't be shy about raising a healthy budget. If you are just going
to raise the bare minimum you need to get by from week to week and one person pulls out,
you are dead in the water. Heres the deal: I am moving to one of the most expensive
cities in America with four kids. I have to plan for some people to pull out. The goal
is to raise a budget that is healthy enough so that you and your family aren't begging
for food six months into the process.
Rapport: Did you explore any grants or other non-traditional
sources for funding?
Troy: I have in the past. We found that grant money is easily available for things
like after school programs, but there can be strings attached. You could use the money
for a bridge eventsay a soup kitchenat which you could invite people to come
to church, but in many instances, you couldn't use it for promoting your church or a particular
religion. You can use that kind of money to provide a service, but you just can't expect
to use it for religious purposes. There might be some different programs out there now,
especially with President Bush's new Faith Based Initiative program.
Rapport: How will you fund your ministry team?
Troy: I am believing God that we will be able to raise more than our personal
budget. I'd like to think that we will be able to adequately take care of our own. I want
to be a blessing to the people who work with us. Realistically speaking, in the beginning,
there will be sacrifice, but in time the church will pick up and will bless them.
Rapport: Any final thoughts?
Troy: Keep people informed. Information is crucial to people getting behind what
you do. The more you communicate with them, the more likely they are to get behind your
vision prayerfully and financially. Also, you have to be willing to make this a full-time
ministry. Ministry doesn't begin when you plant the church; ministry begins the day you
are appointed. You are not just soliciting funds; you are soliciting people that will
pray for you and get behind your ministry. You are not just contacting people who will
give you money; you are raising up ministry partners.