Sources of Fundraising for Church Planters: 1,2,3

If you are raising funds for a church plant, conduct at “RCA” exercise to ensure you’ve identified all of the source of fundraising. 123

No doubt about it, one of the challenges of starting a church is raising enough funds. Planters often tell me that they feel overwhelmed and intimated by it. And most confess they don’t know where to start. Because of this, they start launching willy-nilly into a fundraising campaign without a clear strategy. This can lead to frustration for the planter and a wasted opportunity for the donor to participate in a life-changing Kingdom endeavor.

The RCA Exercise can help. It’s based on…

  • Your RELATIONAL connection to the donor.
  • The CAPACITY of the donor to give to your project.
  • The AFFINITY between you and the potential donor.

The goal of the “RCA Exercise” is to generate an exhaustive list of potential donors for your project that are most likely to bear fruit for your project.

Step 1: Relationships. Start by making a list of all your relationships with individuals and organizations. Don’t worry about filtering the list—just write them down. The goal here is to generate an extensive list that we’ll filter in a moment. Once you have the list, rank each name/organization with a 1,2, or 3 with 1 being your closest relationships and 3 being your fliers.

This list might include…

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Work colleagues (past and present)
  • Churches
  • Church groups
  • Small groups and missional communities
  • College friends and organizations
  • Ministry organizations
  • Church planting organizations
  • Denominational boards
  • Para-church organizations
  • business men and woman in your network
  • Mission organizations
  • Networks of professional
  • Others…

Step 2: Capacity. Next, make another column on your list and rank the CAPACITY of these people/organizations to give to your project. Use 1 for those with high-capacity, 2 for those who may have capacity, and 3 for those who you either are unsure or don’t have capacity.

Step 3: Affinity. Make a third column on your list and for your AFFINITY with the person or organization. This is your opportunity to honest about your relational influence to raise funds from this source. Those organizations or persons that you have strong relational influence, rank as 1. Mark 2 for those you have some affinity, and rank the remainder as 3.

Now sort the list and start making your way through it. Those relationships that receive all 1s are you primary sources of funding and you must pursue them with prayer and creativity. The other sources are important to pursue but you must be resourceful in how much time and energy you invest in cultivating each of them.

Generating an RCA list of donors will help you see the potential sources of funds for your project AND how likely they are to contribute. This should help you leverage your time wisely and minimize the disappointment you experience when donors pass on the opportunity to support your project.

What about you? Are you raising funds for a church plant? Is this helpful? What are you learning about fundraising that might help the rest of us?

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Where to Position Greeters at Your Gatherings

Greeters help create the relational vibe at your Sunday gatherings. Most importantly, they play an important role in helping people connect to your community.

That’s why it’s worth thinking through how you leverage their skills and talents.

Now, greeting is part art and part science. What I want you thinking about today is how to position your greeters. I know it might not be something you’d want to invest time in thinking about. The truth is, you can have the nicest and kindest people greeting. But if you don’t position them well, you’ll waste their talents.

Some of my suggestions include:

  • Outside. Your visitors experience begins when they enter the parking lot. If possible have clearly marked attendants waiting to help people park and direct them to the front door.
  • Outside front doors. Have more greeters outside your main doors to hold them open for people.
  • Inside lobby. Ideally you have another greeter in the main lobby as people come in. they’re not too close to the front door, but they are present. there watching the doors and smiling and greeting people with a smile.
  • Transition points. These are great places for greeters. At our Park Hill location guests need to go up some steps to get to the auditorium where we hold our service. we’ve always got greeters there.
  • Floaters. Try to have greeters who float in our community space, the lobby, the hallway etc. They can help new families connect to our kids area etc.
  • Entrance to your auditorium or gathering space. This is where our greeters hand out programs and pens etc.
  • Inside the gathering space. one more greeter inside the meeting space to help people find seats.
  • Exit greet. It’s REALLY Important to do all of this on the back-end of service. Call it exit greeting. This is one last opportunity to make a positive final impression with people.

It’s easy to let greeting your guests become perfunctory. This is a huge miss. We need to remember that in the Western context at least, Sunday mornings play an important role in the spiritual life of most Christians. Greeting, like other Sunday gathering roles, can literally change eternities.

I’ve written about importance of connecting with your guests here.

What are other ways to position greeters on Sunday morning?

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What About Benevolence?

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them (Hebrews 6:10).

Benevolence: An inclination to perform kind, charitable acts.

For centuries the church has helped those in need. Of course, there are lots of ways to help people and one of those ways is through benevolence. benevolence

At least in the context of church planting, benevolence refers to supplemental cash gifts to people in crisis.  Note that benevolence isn’t just for mega-churches or established churches. If you’re a church planter people will ask you for help.

So the question is how do you respond? 

A couple of things…

First, you need to pray through your response. This is important. If you’re a planter you will undoubtedly feel threatened when a benevolence situation arises. Don’t misunderstand me–I know you want to help. But I also know you will start thinking cash flow and the fact is no planter ever feels good about this.

Second, you want to always respond with generosity and truly help people.

In the past few years I’ve helped several church plants think/pray through ‘benevolence’ in their context. I am not interested in helping you start a benevolence ministry. Rather, I want to provide you some things to think about as you formulate benevolence in your plant.

Here are some things I’ve learned about benevolence…

  1. Benevolence is for people connected to your church. As a rule I’d recommend considering benevolence for people connected to you church.
  2. Budget for benevolence. I recommend you budget 2-3% of your income per year for benevolence. Note, I am assuming that you are serving your community in other ways. If you’re not, double or even triple the amount you budget.
  3. Benevolence isn’t a program. Think of it more like a petty cash fund that you use at your discretion to help people in need.
  4. Don’t foster a culture of benevolence. I am not advocating you be stingy, but I am saying to keep benevolence on the down-low. There is no need to ‘advertise’ it.
  5. Find a leader with GREAT relational IQ to lead your benevolence team. This person needs to be the primary ‘broker’ of funds. The primary role of this person is to enter into a relationship with the person(s) seeking assistance.
  6. Embrace the relational opportunity of a benevolence request. When people ask for help they are more open to sharing their story. Don’t waste the opportunity. Someone MUST meet with the person to get the entire story.
  7. Don’t give to people who randomly call churches for help. I am not advocating you be stingy. Quite the opposite. But you and I know that you can spend a lot of time trying to independently verify a strangers request. The fact is there are people who make a habit of calling churches and asking for money. Church planters simply don’t have the ability (or money) to meet this demand. Better to direct them to appropriate social services.
  8. Track your benevolence. Keep track of your benevolence gifts on a spreadsheet. This will give you something to celebrate (total amount given) but also help you track of anyone who would abuse your generosity.
  9. Small groups should be the front-line of benevolence. I advocate pushing your benevolence through small groups. This will be hard and first but become normative over time. The idea here is that our small group leaders are front-line pastors. I want to celebrate a small group being generous to someone they have a relationship with then I would a church writing a check to a stranger. Make sense?
  10. Benevolence mustn’t be ongoing. It’s an act.  Benevolence is for short-term emergencies or some sort of crisis. It should not be used to pay someone’s ongoing expenses.
  11. Pool your funds with other churches. This could be a great way for you to help each other and make a great impact in your community.
  12. NEVER write a check to the person asking for help. ALWAYS write the check to the landlord or power company or automobile repair agency.

I know this can’t possibly cover everything–but it should get you started.

When in doubt, lead with generosity and trust it all to God.

What are some other insights you have for benevolence? What have I missed? What have I overlooked?

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What to Look for in a Gathering Space

What should you look for in a gathering space? Of course, there is no one right answer. Each context is going to be different. But I do believe there are some essential things that every church planters should think about before agreeing to rent space. The decision where to launch your church is critical. S. Maria del Fiore Floor Plan

Facility costs are going to be one of your largest expenses. Therefore it pays to think carefully about what you need before you agree to invest Kingdom dollars.

But this is also about momentum.

If you launch with the right space and you’ll have a platform for making some serious Kingdom impact. Launch in the wrong place and you’re going to struggle to maintain momentum.

For example, during the pre-launch phase of Restore’s Brookside Campus, campus pastor Josh Jackaway and I had many conversations about what we needed in a meeting space. Restore, like many church planting churches, has a vision to lease space rather than purchase or build something. Buildings aren’t bad–it’s just that Restore has realized that buildings would impede mission rather than inspire it. Because of this, Josh and I had many conversations about what we needed to look for in a gathering space. Ultimately, these conversations led Josh and his team to launch at Border Star Montessori.

So here are 15 questions to ask yourself  when looking for a gathering space:

  1. Is the facility in the flow of life in the community. Do people do life and around the building?
  2. Is there ample parking? Never underestimate how important this is.
  3. Is the price reasonable? Is the right price right for your budget? You may love the space but if you’re paying out the nose for it it’s not gonna work.
  4. Is the interior space conducive to new comers? Is it easy for them to connect?
  5. Can you sign the space well? Are the walls cluttered with stuff. Can you even put out signs.
  6. Is there room for Kids programs and Students?
  7. Is there a place for your hospitality crew to brew coffee, prepare food etc.
  8. Are chairs and tables available to use and/or rent?
  9. Is there space for growth? The idea is to grow your plant. Does the space provide this?
  10. Does the space drive relationships? Restore has found that meeting in schools offers us many opportunities for relationships with faculty, staff and teachers.
  11. Is the space public or private? It’s an important question. I would much prefer a space where the public meets (school, movie theater etc.)
  12. Does it help your people invite others. One of our locations meets at a high school. Everyone in our community knows where the high school is.
  13. Does the space offer you a platform to serve the community?
  14. What requirements are there for you to pay custodians or other facility personnel?
  15. Can your rent more space if needed? Are there more rooms available for rent?

I hope these questions help you as you think about your gathering space.

What else should we look for in a gathering space? Please leave a comment.

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What Should You Be Doing 6 Weeks From Launch?

A friend of mine is launching a church in 6 weeks.rocket

He and his team have done a fabulous job preparing for launch. My friend has gone through assessment, apprenticed as a church planter, talked to planters, read the books and hit the conferences. He’s a great student of church planting. He and his team have been meeting and praying and serving their community for months. My friend has been training leaders and investing in the people around him.

In my opinion he’s doing all he can to ensure a sold launch.

That’s why I was a bit surprised that he would reach out to a group of us for additional coaching. I mean 6 weeks out the train is rolling so to speak. And he’s already done a great job.

Maybe I am making a little much of this but I was inspired. Even in this last leg of his journey, he’s still teachable. I think we can all learn from his example.

So for what it’s worth, here’s what I suggested he consider 6 weeks out.

  1. Call an “All-Hands on deck.” Encourage leaders and launch team members to make it a priority to attend your gatherings and be on mission to the people around them. Also, cast some vision for making it a priority to attend gatherings even after launch.
  2. Pray. Get teams of people together to pray. Encourage everyone to be praying. Host simple prayer gatherings. You get it.
  3. Encourage your launch team to start identifying the people they’re going to invite to your gatherings. Encourage people to write down the names of people and pray for them.
  4. Time to let team leaders lead. It’s time to release your leaders to own their pieces of the mission.
  5. Turbo train small group leaders to be ready for new people so you have the relational space for them.
  6. Encourage your launch team to keep serving the community.
  7. Ensure any marketing is lined up and ready to go so you don’t miss deadlines.
  8. Ensure you and your team are connecting with friends and neighbors this summer. Encourage people on your launch team to have parties, host barbecues and generally be social in the community.
  9. Ensure your budget is finalized and that you’re living within it now–even before launch.
  10. Keep Jesus the main thing by making space for Him in your life everyday. In this season of hustle and activity its easy to become distracted by the stuff of church planting.

I appreciate my friend and his reminder that no matter where you are in the planting process, we must stay teachable.

What about you? What is one way you’re staying teachable?

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