10 Lessons in Bootstrapping a Church Plant – Part 1

bootsby Nelson Searcy and Tommy Duke

As we gear up for our Launch Conference, I wanted to share a set of blogs we did for Church Planters dealing with the reality of finances in a new Launch.

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Money makes the world go ‘round.” While those of us in ministry understand the skewed nature of this adage, one thing is for sure: Money is critical to the work we do – especially when that work involves launching a new church.

Every idealistic, would-be church planter must come face to face early on with the reality that starting a church takes a lot of financial resources. In fact, if you are preparing to launch a new church and have been trying to ignore the importance of money to its success, I suggest you do one of two things:

1) Get over your hang-ups and start asking.
If God has called you to start a church, then he has people out there ready and waiting to support it… but you have to ask!


2) Find a safe, comfortable job on an existing church’s staff.
At least there you know you’ll have a guaranteed paycheck.

If you’d prefer to go with Option 1, keep reading….

Starting your church plant with healthy financial support is a tremendous indicator of how successful your new church will ultimately be. Make sure you get as much information as possible on how to raise the resources you need to fulfill the God-given vision you have for your church. (Click here for over $149.00 in FREE Church Planting Resources.)

That said, there are times in launching a new church when money is nowhere to be found. Whether this dearth of funding is due to the lack of a strong network, poor asking skills, or to just not knowing any better, the fact is that many (if not most) new churches launch painfully underfunded.

If you find yourself in this position – i.e. if you have already launched without adequate resources – don’t get discouraged. You can still raise support. In fact, there are some potential partners out there who will equate the fact that you are already meeting with more reason that your church is a “viable investment” of their missions budget. So, don’t give up. Keep asking.

But here’s the best news for those of you in the midst of the “rolling but under-resourced” struggle: Valuable lessons can be learned as you go through the tough process of post-launch fundraising.

In the business world, starting with little to no outside assistance is known as “bootstrapping,” so borrowing from this bit of lingo, here are:

The Top 10 Lessons Learned from Bootstrapping a Church Plant:

Where God guides, he provides. Nothing is a better reminder of this truth than looking at your bank statement at the end of the month and wondering how everything got paid. Fair warning: when bootstrapping your church plant there will be dark days, financially speaking and otherwise. But God’s light shines brightest in the darkest situations. You’ll learn to recognize and give thanks for all those times when God shows up in just the nick of time.

When your young church’s cash flow is more like a drip and the outlook seems bleak, you may be tempted to shut down as much as possible and wait for brighter days. But if your church is to survive long enough to thrive, zeroing out critical areas is never the right solution.

Evangelism is one area where you should never cut corners, for the sake of your church’s long-term health. Skimping on your missions giving (yes, even in a brand new church) will not make you a better steward either. Save money on office supplies? Sure. Negotiate a better rental rate for your meeting place? Definitely. Carve money away from activities that directly relate to fulfilling the Great Commission? Don’t do it!

To Be Continued (check back tomorrow) . . .

P.S. If you’re looking for some help in starting a new church or with growing your church plant, I’d like to invite you to join me at the upcoming One Day Launch Conference in Orlando on July 13th.  Register soon as space is limited.


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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

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