Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


Money Matters

  • Jim Townsley
  • Dec 10, 2009

Starting and operating a new church requires adequate financial support. The ministry is primarily spiritual, but a new church requires sufficient funds to grow and function properly. The preacher and his family must have food and shelter making it necessary to secure outside support. The church is not transparent, therefore it must assemble somewhere and probably the new meeting place will require money. Nothing is free therefore, "someone must pay for it!"
In addition to the general cost of living for the pastor and his family are the expenses to get the church started and eventually to continue to operate. The winter requires heat and the summer requires air-conditioning. Someone must pay for the utilities, rent, and operational costs. The carpet will need vacuuming and the walls will need painting. Someone must pay for it. Who will pay the rent and who will provide the tracts and literature? Insurance, bulletins, mailings, and a host of other expenses are a normal part of a healthy church. Starting and maintaining a ministry requires money and lots of it.

Finances should never become the primary focus of the church, but biblical principles of finance must not be ignored. Too many new churches have failed because of improper funding or because of the misuse of money. Therefore, money is a key component of a church planting ministry. No one should diminish the necessity of living by faith, but neither should anyone ignore biblical principles of finance.

It not necessary for a new church planter to be heavily endowed with a massive amount of start-up money, but it is important that every new preacher be debt free. Personal debt is an albatross that is difficult to overcome when starting a new church. I suggest that every young preacher take whatever steps are necessary to become debt free prior to raising support and prior to starting a new church. Credit card debt, school loans, personal loans, and hopefully even car payments should be repaid in order to get a good start in building a ministry for the Lord. Personally, I would work two jobs and eat peanut butter sandwiches until all debt was removed. I believe God will honor such serious measures to get out of debt. Learning the hard lessons that come from bad financial decisions of the past will give the Lord the opportunity to use you in the future.

Assuming that all your bills are current you must decide how you will finance this new church plant. I believe three choices should be considered:

1. Work a job to provide personal living expenses and the start-up costs of the new church.
2. Visit several churches and seek to gain temporary monthly support. (Usually two to four years)
3. Use personal savings and trust God to provide for the daily needs and operational costs.

Though I personally started our church with no support and without a job, I strongly suggest to most young men to consider the second option of gaining monthly support. Anyone who chooses to work a job should determine that it will be for a brief period of time. In addition, a job should be chosen that allows enough flexibility to attend all the church services and spend an adequate amount of time on visitation. Too many good men have struggled and failed by trying to balance family, church, and job and unfortunately some are not even in the ministry today.

In most situations 25% - 50% of a normal yearly income is necessary to get the church started properly. Fortunately, help is available from many good churches. It has become popular for churches to pay for the printing of John and Romans. Often, people and churches will provide song books, office equipment, and tracts. With proper planning churches will send teams to help distribute materials door to door. Advertising as well as a web site will require financial assistance. Direct mail and phone calling are two of the most effective tools in starting a church, but they are also the most expensive. Remember many aspects of starting a church are expensive, but a poor beginning is even more expensive. Renting a storefront in a bad location to save a few hundred dollars can prove to be a costly mistake if people will not attend at this location.

The church planter must become a good money manager. Accurate records must be kept and monthly statements must be prepared. Always be transparent with every aspect of the finances. Be accountable to someone at all times. A building fund should be started as soon as possible. People will not give unless they are aware of the need. Pay all bills promptly and establish an excellent reputation in the community, because it might require many years to restore credibility once it is lost. One of the first leaders of the new church will be a well trusted member who can become the treasurer. Don't appoint anyone until they have been proven to be loyal and supportive of your leadership.

Develop a yearly budget which should be approved by the church membership. Operate within the guidelines of the church constitution and the approved budget. Too many men get into trouble by taking too much liberty with the church finances. Transparency is imperative.

When money is given toward a specific ministry be sure it is funneled into that ministry. Money given to missions that does not go to missions will hinder the generosity of many good members for future needs. Though money itself is merely a worldly tool, its misuse can be a costly spiritual failure.