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Church Planters Blog

Welcome to the MN Church Planters Blog. We desire to share wisdom and expertise from church planters and multipliers with other church planters. Feel free to comment about what is said or shoot us an email if there is a topic you would like us to touch on. You can reach us at info@mnchurchplanting.com.

Friday
Jan092015

Inform. Rely. Thanks.

2 Corinthians 1
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

I’m slightly dramatic, but I have felt the sentence of death on our church plant at times. I have despaired whether it is worth continuing and whether we should give up and do something else. In those moments relying on God was/is the only option.

Admitting the struggles and troubles can be humbling. When leading a new church plant, there is pressure to be a strong leader who can reassure people. During hardships, we can doubt our ability as the leader and be afraid that everyone else sees us as weak or as a failure.

Paul, whose troubles were far above anything I’ve faced, despaired of life at times. However, he continually set his hope on God and expected the help of others’ prayers. God could spare Paul without anyone’s prayers, yet the prayers gave opportunity for people to see God answer. When God answered, the people found reason to give thanks. 

How often do I view my troubles as an opportunity for someone to see God answer prayer? Not often. I don’t want to seem a burden. I don’t want to be viewed as dramatic, needy or a failure. I want people to be confident in our church. I want them to view our church as something worth being part of and doubt whether people will want to be part of something weak. Basically, I focus on image rather than reliance on God. By not informing others of struggles, I deprive them of the ability to see God answer prayer and then give thanks.

When you face struggles and despair, whom do you inform to help with prayer and therefore see God’s favor pour out?

“Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

- Amber Woller

Friday
Sep262014

Planning a Budget

Planning a church budget when you are planting a church can be daunting. Without a previous year of offerings, you don’t know how much money to expect, so how do you plan a budget based on anticipated amounts?

Obviously, your budget will vary depending on your location and your style of ministry. If you are planting in a rural setting, your needs will be different from a suburban church. If your model is geared toward a church of 1000+, your budget will be different than a house church. What works for someone else may not work for you; however, it is wise to talk to other church plants similar in location and style to get their feedback on budgeting.

Key areas you need to consider for your first year budget include: personnel, facility rental, equipment, marketing, operations and outreach. 

Personnel (50-65% of budget)
Expenses to consider: salary, housing allowance, health insurance, retirement, payroll taxes and stipends. 

Facilities Rental (10% of budget)
Expenses to consider: corporate worship gathering space, meeting space, office space, equipment storage and liability insurance 

Equipment (10-25% of budget)
Expenses to consider: sound system, computer, projector, software (accounting, administration, worship), screen, instruments, nursery and children’s supplies, curriculum, signage, storage bins/trailer 

Outreach Events (3-5% of budget)
Expenses to consider: events and programs designed to get church known in community 

Design & Marketing (15-20% of budget)
Expenses to consider: website, logo, brochures, cards, mailings, visitor gifts and informational packets

Administration (4-6% of budget)
Expenses to consider: office supplies, copier/copying, printer, telephone, computer, professional fees (bookkeeping, legal, payroll, music licensing), bank fees and postage

Team Development (2% of budget)
Expenses to consider: coaching, training and events designed to build team

Other areas you might want to budget for include missions giving, benevolence, future building, investing in other church plants, pastor’s continuing education or conference expenses. No matter how much money you allot to each area, your total should equal 100%. 

If you know the percentage you want to allot to each category, then you can divvy the money you have among those percentages.

Once you figure out percentages you will allot to each category, you can plug in numbers. Of course, to do that you have to plan how much money you will have to spend. At first it is unlikely that offerings alone will cover necessary expenses, which is why most church plants fundraise. Determining a budget will help you know how much you need to fundraise. 

Picking a number amount for your budgeted income seems rather ambiguous. You have no guarantee how many people will come and how much money will be given. To develop an estimate of projected income, choose a realistic number of people you hope to have regularly attending after one year. Find out the median income for your area. A quick search on the Internet can give you that information. Next, you must determine the percentage of that income that might be given. 

Ideally, every wage earner would give 10%. Realistically, people give 2.4-4% of their income to charity – all charities, not just churches. One estimate reports that only 1.8% of income is given to religious organizations. In Minnesota in 2012, an average 4.1% of income was given to charity or approximately $2,213 per individual. The Chronicle of Philanthropy has an interactive article, How America Gives, where you can get giving information about your state. 

# of Households multiplied by Median Income multiplied by Average Giving % = Potential Income 

Minneapolis Metro Area – Goal of 50 Households
2012 Minneapolis Metro Median Income - $66,282
50 X $66,282 X 4% (I rounded) = $132,564 

Minnesota Rural Area – Goal of 15 Households
2012 Median Income for Rural Minnesota - $40,887
15 X $40,887 X 4% = $24,532 

These numbers do not include any outside fundraising or support. They also do not include any designated offerings. 

For more information about planning a budget, check out: 10 Tips to a Better Church Planting Budget.

 What has helped you when planning a budget for your church? 

- Amber Woller

Tuesday
Jul222014

Great Church Planters Are...

What makes a great church planter? At church planting conferences I have looked around the room and wondered if our church planting success was dependent on how fashionable or trendy my husband and I are. Sometimes it seems as if success is dependent on how connected the planter is to the church world because connectedness translates into being able to raise large sums of cash. Thankfully, success doesn’t depend on how hip you are or who you know. 

Church planters come from a variety of backgrounds, experiences and even personalities. Sometimes there is pressure to believe that a good church planter must have a certain personality type; often, “D” personalities from the DISC profile are seen as those who would be great planters. However, church planters who are not a “D” have managed to be very successful. Backgrounds, experiences and personality types do affect the type of church planter and leader you are and need to be taken into account when considering planting a church, but on their own they do not determine your success or failure as a planter.

There is no specific detailed description of who will make a great church planter, but I can think of some universal characteristics or traits that successful church planters have.

  • Person of prayer – Are you spending time in prayer? What types of things are you typically praying over – for the lost, for your city, for how you can make an impact?
  • Personal evangelism – Are you expressing your faith to others? Who is learning about faith in Jesus from you?
  • Willingness to submit to God’s timing and authority – Can you be flexible and yield to God’s timing and His plans? How do you handle it when plans don’t work out like you wanted or the timing of those plans does not meet your expectations? 
  • Illuminating – Are people drawn to listen to you? Who believes in you and supports what you are doing?
  • Other traits and characteristics include: spousal support, God’s calling, entrepreneurship, personal motivation, commitment, visionary, integrity, humility, etc.

 What would you add to this list? 

- Amber Woller

Thursday
Jun052014

Dreaming or Maintaining?

Are you still dreaming big or are you caught up in the everyday maintaining?

Before you launched, you were excited and scared to dream big. After all, you were making something that previously didn’t exist – that takes big dreams. Eventually it becomes harder to dream big because our focus shifts to maintaining what we have already accomplished.

Every Sunday needs a new message. Each week brings new problems in the lives of the people we minister to as well as volunteer turnover, financial worries, staffing issues and the list goes on. For some the reality of maintaining what you’ve started hits right after launch while it might take a few years for it to set in for someone else.

Sometimes the drive to maintain is caused by our dreams not coming to fruition like we thought. Other times it is caused by our inability to develop leaders who can help carry the load. Perhaps we are struggling with fear of losing what we have worked so hard on. Maybe we are trying to do too much or have simply shifted our priorities. Possibly we have allowed criticism or failures to keep us from dreaming.

Unfortunately, when you stop dreaming, you and your church suffer. It takes guts and vision to plant a church. If you no longer have a vision to work toward, you are more likely to feel discouraged, disillusioned and experience burn out. Proverbs 29:18 reminds us of the danger of having no vision – “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” You and your church need you to be a visionary leader.

In my own life I often feel too tired and weary of what I’m already flooded with to even consider dreaming big. I feel like I don’t have time or energy for more, for vision or dreams. Dreaming means more work, and I can’t handle anything else. The problem in my logic is that I am already placing limits on dreaming.  Having a dream or vision for our church does not mean that I must do all the work. In fact if I am worn out already, I most likely have not been delegating enough and allowing the church body to function as it should.

One of the greatest hindrances I see for leaders to dream again is time – time to step away from the daily and weekly routines in order to focus on God and listen to His voice. If you need to dream big, are you willing to set aside time for dreaming? Are you willing to cancel appointments? Are you willing to possibly get away for a few days or longer? Are you willing to allow others to carry some of your load, whether temporarily or permanently?

What needs to happen in your life for you to dream big again?

"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." — Michelangelo

- Amber Woller


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Tuesday
Apr152014

Communion Bread

Over the years of our church plant we have done communion in a variety of ways. We’ve bought communion wafers, loaves of bread, crackers and used several other products to symbolize the Body. The loaf of bread easily dried out if it was pre-portioned. When we allowed people to get their own piece, you have many hands touching it, which is rather unsettling if you think about it. Additionally, most people commented later that they ended up with a huge piece and chewed forever! Communion wafers are usually tasteless and come in large amounts. If you don’t hold communion every week and don’t have a large congregation, the wafers become stale (and even more tasteless). Plus, it’s not like communion wafers can be found on your local grocery store shelves.

Since we only hold communion about every six weeks and have a congregation under 100, I searched to find a cost effective solution – something that was quality tasting, easy to purchase and didn’t come in bulk. What I found wasn’t something I could buy, but something I could make.

The recipe below from cooks.com is extremely easy and doesn’t require any unusual ingredients. If you aren’t a baker, enlist the help of someone on your team who loves to bake.

Unleavened Communion Bread

1 cup flour

3 Tablespoons sugar

1/3 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup shortening

2-2 ½ Tablespoons milk

Sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in shortening. Add a little bit of milk at a time and only enough to form into dough. Roll dough (using floured rolling pin) to ¼ inch thick. Cut into ½ inch squares. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until done.

When I make this recipe, I cut my squares smaller – about 1 cm square. Each batch makes over 200 1-cm squares. I usually bake for less time than the recipe calls for, more like 10-12 minutes (just until starting to turn golden). I usually cut my squares with a knife, but a pizza cutter would work great as well.

Yes, actually baking the communion bread takes a little more effort and time than buying a package of cardboard wafers, but the product is tasty and inexpensive.  

Another perk – this past weekend as I prepared communion bread, I was personally reminded of the significance of the Body and felt compelled to pray over those who would be partaking of communion the next day.

Another tip for smaller churches: One 10 oz. bottle of grape juice will serve about 50 people (filling standard communion cup ½-3/4 full). 

- Amber Woller

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