In for the Long Haul: Planning a Financial Future

In for the Long Haul: Planning a Financial Future

This article is part of the series "In for the Long Haul," explaining Orchard Group's commitment to back church planters as they establish churches in cities.

Planning for a flourishing future

What could be more challenging than turning nothing into something? Like any entrepreneurial endeavor, church planting requires leaders to do just that. A church planter often moves to a new city and starts from scratch to develop the relationships and make the arrangements that will turn “nothing” into the “something” that is a new church. The challenge is daunting!

Most church planters are innovators who deeply love God and deeply love the people of their target city. Such love serves them well. However, church planters often do not love the business details that come with start-up projects. Proper budgeting is one of those administrative tasks. This is where Orchard Group comes in.

Leaders from across the country gather in NYC to discuss strategic partnership with new church plants, October 2019.

Orchard Group is committed to supporting church planters at each stage of the process. As part of this, we help the church planter formulate an initial multi-year budget plan for the church plant. This initial plan is a tool to help all involved understand how much total outside funding the new church will need in the early years until the church is fully financially supported by the inside giving from those who attend the church. This typically takes four or five years – sometimes a few years longer in international contexts. This budget plan is also an important tool for fundraising purposes, and it meets requirements for obtaining federal tax exempt recognition for the church.

For many people, this all may sound rather boring, but for the longevity of the church, there are few practical matters more important than planning for a financially sustainable future.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’”  –Luke 14:28-30

Nuts and bolts

Our experienced staff members walk alongside the church planter to estimate income and expenses for the first few years of the project. One-time start-up expenses are considered, as well as ongoing expenses for staff, facilities, and programming. The cost-of-living of the target neighborhood is weighed heavily in making these projections. The unique ministry needs of the context are also considered.

Once realistic expense projections are made, we work with the church planter to understand the likely timeline required for the funds given by the church’s attenders to be sufficient to pay all expenses. Careful consideration is given to how many people are likely to attend in each initial year, and how much per person is likely to be given in the specific context. Finally, the church planter is able to see the expense projections minus the internal giving expectations to arrive at the amount that will need to be raised from partners as outside funding over the life of the project.

But we do not stop after the initial budgeting projections. We are in the for the long haul. Innovative new endeavors, including church plants, inevitably encounter surprises in their early years. Those unexpected twists and turns will cause the church to drift from its original budget projections. Each year we work alongside the church planter to develop an annual budget that, while based on the original multi-year plan, also takes into account those necessary adjustments in income and expenses. This critical annual budgeting process ensures that the new church remains on track to become financially self-sustaining.

After all, the goal is not to merely launch new churches, but to establish them to make a difference in their communities over the long haul.

Take Action

  • Download the white paper that describes our four church planting distinctives.
  • Learn more by getting an overview of our process.
  • Sign up to receive monthly prayer ministry updates. Would you join us in praying right now for God to provide the necessary means for new churches to become established in their cities?

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Jamie Larson