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3 Perspectives on How to Start a Church With Little to No Money

how to start a church

Keeping track of people and money are two primary tasks for church administrators, and because most church plants run on a shoestring budget, every dollar matters. Sometimes (if we are honest) the dollars seem to matter more than the people. When it comes to how to start a church, two things are certain, though: (1) God can provide, and (2) people matter more than money.

People have worried about money ever since the invention of money—church planters (and church administrators) are no exception! In the classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” George Bailey, distraught over his financial situation, is ready to take his life. Clarence the angel is sent to the rescue. Clarence explains, “We don’t use money in heaven.” Bailey answers, “Well, it comes in pretty handy around here, Bub.” It turns out both Clarence and George were right!

3 Perspectives on How to Start a Church with Little to no Money

1. Hugh Halter – Follow Jesus’ Example

Missional leader Hugh Halter gave some thought to how to start a church with no money. He observed, “What if we never had to worry about growing or building a church? What would change if we really lived out of the truth that God does the building and growing as we live in simple kingdom ways?” He shared these three lessons:

  • First, we noticed that Jesus hung with outsiders—all the time.
  • Second, Jesus blessed people.
  • Third, Jesus created space for people to just be with God.

2. David Hayward – Give Up Trying to Control Things

David Hayward (the artist known as The Naked Pastor) suggests that we’ve made administration and planting too complicated. Hayward says, “It is a control-driven church culture that demands there be theologically trained leaders who are accountable to centralized authorities. That isn’t necessary, and it isn’t required. Don’t be afraid.” His list of 10 steps on how to start a church point to metrics beyond the normal concerns of administration. You can read his “10 easy steps” here.

3. Michael Lukaszewski – Plan Ahead

There does come a time when things like facilities and meeting space must figure into our plans. Michael Lukaszewski, director of Church Fuel, an organization “dedicated to providing insanely practical resources to pastors” recalls the early years when he was both administrator and planter.

Lukaszewski says, “When we renovated and moved into the House of Rock, I didn’t do enough homework on how much renovations would truly cost.  We had to go back to our people and tweak our fund-raising campaigns, and that’s never good.  It’s better to take the time in order to get accurate financial projections and timetables.”

A Bonus Bible Perspective

Considering how to start a church does, eventually, mean thinking about money, though. The book of Acts reports that the very earliest churches had financial concerns. Acts 4:32-37 details the financial practices of the church in Jerusalem. It’s worth noticing how their priorities differed from our 21st-Century models, though.

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Ray Hollenbach, a Chicagoan, writes about faith and culture. He currently lives in central Kentucky, which is filled with faith and culture. His book "Deeper Change" (and others) is available at Amazon.com