Money, Money, Money, MONEY, M-O-N-E-Y!
Money seems to be a touchy subject for many pastors and church planters because you can’t start a church without it, and you also kind of need it to maintain the vision in your heart. God isn’t silent about money. In fact, there are well over 2000 verses throughout scripture concerning the almighty dollar. So, if the Bible isn’t silent about money, then we shouldn’t be silent about it either.
No matter what season of ministry you’re in, I hope this will help you in your church planting or pastoring journey. I don’t claim to know everything about money or church finances, but I did save a lot of money by switching to Geico…
Seriously though, God has shown his faithfulness BIG time in our church’s finances, and I think it’s because of several principles we’ve tried our best to follow. We aren’t the ones who raised the most money during a launch phase, but we did meet our goal. Our fundraising goal for the launch was $250,000. With God’s provision, we raised $258,402.34. In our first two years as a church, we’ve doubled our income each year! This could only be God.
My hope is that the following principles will help you raise money during your launch season and give you a solid foundation to build on afterward.
Here are seven principles to help guide you.
This seems pretty elementary. I mean, if you’re planting a church, you should probably be praying about the finances, right? The answer is yes, but we often get weighed down with the cares of life or busyness. Are you asking the Father to bless your finances in the launch phase? Are you asking God to send gifts and givers your way? If not, start now. Make it a daily chat with God. Ask Him to give you divine appointments with people who can fund your vision.
Jesus said, “we have not because we ask not.” Ask God to provide every need you have. Ask God to speak to the hearts of every person you talk to about being part of your dream.
- Remember who your provider is.
There is a bit of a trap when it comes to raising money. I know because I’ve fallen into it myself. The trap is that we look everywhere else for provision except to God. We must remember that people are not our providers; God is. While we pray for him to provide for our needs, it’s vitally important that we do not look outside of Him for our provision. He knows our needs before we even ask. Trust Him to take care of the need. If He cares for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, will He not also take care of you?
Let’s get a little more practical with the principles.
- Cast multiple nets.
As you begin to raise money, you need a plan. Without a plan, all you have is a dream! You need to consider multiple ways of raising money. I call it “casting multiple nets.” Here are a few ideas:
Strategy Guide/Launch Plan Mailout
Excellence matters! Create a well-thought-out and professionally printed launch plan with a stamped return envelope inside. The stamped return envelope might feel like a waste, but you need to remove every excuse for people who may be on the fence about giving.
A launch plan mailout might seem like an out-of-date method, but people with means to help finance your vision still check their mail, and they write checks.
Include multiple ways for them to give. Your online giving should be one of the first things you set up. Make sure you provide a text-to-give option as well. We live in a new era where at least 75% of our giving comes in electronically. Ride that wave!
When you’re ready to send your mailout, include everyone who comes to mind. Think about your Christmas card lists. Find addresses for your high school teachers and classmates. Send it to former employers and every family member you have. I had two classmates from high school send $500 each. Their contributions alone nearly paid for the entire launch plan mailout.
“Bomb Bomb” Email List
I get it. Email is mostly for junk mail these days. However, people still check it, and if they didn’t happen to see your mailout, then maybe they’ll see your email.
But don’t just send a regular email. Send a “Bomb Bomb” video email. We didn’t see a lot of funding this way, but every time we sent a video, it did come back with some new donations.
You can’t be afraid to talk about money, nor should you underestimate the power of personal conversations.
Start with people you know. Who do you already have a relationship with? Before moving to Texas, we lived in north Alabama for nearly 15 years and had built up a lot of contacts. Not to mention, I was a son of the house at our sending church. Our pastor graciously allowed me to raise funds within the congregation of the church. However, I know that’s not the norm.
When it comes to conversations with people, first reach out to other pastors, whether you have a connection with them or not. Take a risk in giving them an opportunity to support you. Buy their lunch, take them to coffee, or do a zoom meeting with them. The point is, share your vision, your dream, and your passions, and watch what God will do.
The people best equipped to help fund your church plant are people you already know, but you can also meet new potential givers in your new city. Raising money takes a lot of work, but it’s good work.
When we were raising funds, my style was simple. I never asked anyone for money. I simply told stories of how other people had been generous, and then I would say something like, “We would love for you to help bring this dream to life. I’m not asking you to give anything. I’m just asking you to ask the Lord what you should do.” Time and time again, people would respond with generosity.
Stories build people’s faith in you and your dream. If they hear of someone else who gave, oftentimes they will be inspired to be part of that as well.
- Meet every contribution with gratitude.
Get ready to write some thank you cards. Every person who gave to City Hope during the launch phase received a handwritten thank you card from Annaliese and me. It didn’t matter what their gift amount was. Whether they gave $3 or $30,000, we personally thanked them.
We would sit down a few times each month and write something like, “Thank you for your generosity to City Hope Church. Every dollar you give here goes to change lives. We know you could give your resources anywhere, so we want to personally thank you! Let’s give hope, Ben & Annaliese Murray.” To this day, we still send handwritten thank you cards to every first-time giver.
- Avoid social media fundraising until the last minute.
The great thing about social media is that you can raise money through it. The terrible thing about social media is that you can raise money through it. People’s feeds are crammed full of birthday fundraisers for animal shelters. Those are worthy causes, but they are not nearly as important as establishing a new, life-giving church that helps people know God.
Here’s where I’m going with this. If people perceive that you post only about raising funds, it will tend to be a turn-off. I like to take a different approach. Rather than constantly asking people to give in your social media posts, instead celebrate what people have already given.
One of the things we would regularly do is take pictures of a stack of thank you cards we had written for people who had given and say something like, “We are so thankful for the generosity to @cityhopefamily. More than 160 people have invested in the vision this month to #givehope in Wichita Falls!”
Make sure social posts are about “thank you’s” and not desperation. People respond better to vision and need rather than desperation and guilt. Inevitably, people will give as a result of your posts giving thanks to those who’ve supported.
- Look in the mirror.
Are you generous? I’m surprised at the number of pastors and church planters who are not generous to the church they lead.
God has called us as leaders to lead by example. He’s called us to influence others. It should be difficult to stand on a platform and ask others to give when you’re not doing it yourself. Never ask someone else to do something that you’re not willing to do yourself.
John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Your obedience in giving will enable God’s blessing. Your lack of obedience will stifle God’s blessing on your church.
There is a word that we don’t use as much in the church world because we’ve seen other leaders abuse it. But, I think it’s time to start living it out the way God intended. The word is tithe. Pastors and leaders, if we aren’t giving a bare minimum of 10% of our income into our own local church, then we’re missing it BIG.
There is a ladder to generosity, and tithing is the first rung. To be clear, tithing is not generosity; it is obedience. Once you’ve begun to tithe, then you can freely give offerings as part of your generosity. The last rung of the ladder is extravagant offerings or pain offerings. A pain offering is not just about the amount. It is about the sacrifice. Remember the widow in scripture who gave a penny? Jesus said that she gave more than the others because she gave everything she had.
If you’re planting a church, you should be tithing from the beginning. Additionally, I encourage you to go above the tithe and look for ways to give generously. Ask God how you can give extravagantly.
We were able to go above and beyond in giving to our church plant by giving a portion of the proceeds from the sale of our home.
I believe in this principle wholeheartedly, and we’ve seen God pour out his blessing on our finances as a church.
Here’s the last principle I’ll share with you.
- Be a blessing!
God blesses us to be a blessing. If that’s true, why would he give us more if we’re not using it to bless others? Again, I’m surprised at how many churches do not reserve 10% of their budget for missional purposes.
This is an elementary teaching for us as pastors and church leaders. If we’re going to ask our people to do it, we should also model as a church. Nearly every week, I close out our time together and let our church know how their generosity is making a difference. We never ask them to give a specific amount. We simply invite them to ask God what He wants them to do and then be obedient to God.
Generosity produces generosity.
Ben Murray is the Lead Pastor of City Hope Church in Wichita Falls, TX. Ben, his wife Annaliese, and their four sons launched City Hope in January of 2019. Together they dream that City Hope Church will be a place where people can be real and authentic before God, where meaningful relationships are formed through small group communities, and where families can discover their purpose in life.