Church Planting, Uncategorized

Funding Your Church Plant: The Right People Should Pay for It… And It’s Not the Pastor’s Kids


I occasionally coach church planters, and there is a common denominator between all of them.

They are underpaid.

Shocker, eh?

Nondenominational planters especially are underpaid because they often lack the deep pockets of denominational funders. Unfortunately, some denominations underfund plants, as well, not realizing that an investment in effective planters will eventually result in far more denominational growth and funding.

On top of these challenges, it is very difficult for pastors to raise funds from the new church’s launch team, because so many people in our culture parrot cliches about pastors being in it for the money. Contrary to 30-year old cultural memes still justified by the unethical actions of 1980s televangelists, most pastors are not even close to being in it for the money. Similar to schoolteachers, most pastors are grossly overworked and underpaid.

So, an inspired, idealistic, well-intentioned (and naive) pastor goes out into the field to start something that brings hope to lots of people, totally unmotivated by money. She sacrifices, works long hours, spends less time with family than she wants, inspires people, and pulls a new church together. She tends to downplay her own needs, while the growing congregation appreciates her dedication but is unaware of the daily financial pressure she feels.

Then, after a few years of struggling to pay the pills, she is forced into a another line of work to make ends meet. The church can’t even hire a successor because they don’t pay a competitive salary and never have.

Like everything else in life, the truth is that someone will have to pay for the new church. Every pastor has a right to earn a fair, honest living, and any congregation that wants to be viable has the responsibility to fund it.

If, as a planting pastor, you struggle to ask for a raise or to believe that your family deserves for you to be paid fairly, here are a couple of questions for you:

1. Should the financial obligations of a church be spread across the whole congregation, or should they be placed squarely upon your family?

In other words, which is easier, for everyone in a 100 person congregation to give $5 more per week (which adds up to $26,000 per year), or for your kids to have less than they need because you are underpaid by $26,000 per year?

Compensating a pastor fairly is actually a small sacrifice if the expense is shared by the congregation. Either the congregation pays the bills or the pastor’s kids do. It’s one or the other.

What if you don’t have children?

You probably will someday, and they will be affected by the financial decisions you make now.

2. How would the people in your congregation respond if they actually knew the financial toll the plant takes on you, and if you’re married, the toll it takes on your marriage?

They would probably feel embarrassed and immediately take steps to pay you adequately. If not, then it might be time to leave and let them face reality.

If they simply had more information about the average compensation for pastors, they might make it right far more quickly than you think. Perhaps Googling “pastor compensation guide” and sharing it with your elders or church board would be a good first step. Or perhaps you could invite a church planting coach or consultant to talk with your board and speak the truths you find it difficult to say. They are probably more open to reality than you realize.

Whichever you choose, remaining underpaid until you no longer can is not an option. It will simply ruin your financial future, and you will eventually leave the church because you have no choice. Your congregation will then realize that they have to give the pastor who follows you a massive raise just to be competitive, and they will probably wish they would have done more to help you.

It’s better to be humbly honest now and let them know what you need. The right people should pay for your church plant… all of the people in it.

Church Planting, Leadership

When People Leave the Church

One of the most difficult experiences for a church planter is letting people go. People you never thought would leave will leave for a multitude of reasons.

One Church has only held weekly services for six months, and we’ve seen half of the visitors leave because they were looking for a different type of church. One person called me names on the way out.

Here is a tough realization- people will leave your church. You will be tempted to convince some to stay. Others will attack you as they go, and you will be tempted to retaliate. Regardless of their reasons for leaving, you only really have one choice.

Bless them as they go.

Contrary to what some church planting “experts” tell you, you don’t need warm bodies to fill seats. You need people are passionate about fulfilling the vision and mission of the new church you are planting. People who passionately believe in your vision will multiple themselves.

People who do not will distract you, hold the church back and take other people with them when they leave. The longer they stay, the more toxic relationships they create. If they attack you as they leave, even the people who don’t leave will wonder if they’re correct.

When they leave, don’t let them make matters worse by dragging you into a conflict.

Let people go sooner than later. If they attack you, do not retaliate.

Just bless them as they go.

Church Planting, Leadership, One Church

One Church Launched

The very start of the service before the room filled up.

Eleven months ago, my wife, son and I relocated to Chandler, AZ to lead a nondenominational, parachute drop church plant.

One Church launched weekly worship services yesterday with 118 in attendance, 96 adults and 22 kids! (This photo was taken at the very beginning of the service before 3 more rows of people showed up.)

Our strategy has been to grow through word of mouth and social media, in addition to 30 grand opening signs placed around the city and our A-frame directional signs placed Saturday mornings. We tried targeted and saturation mail with a very low return. I will probably not use mail anymore in this area (direct mail worked well for me in Columbus, OH, however).

Leading up to the launch, we held six monthly preview services and a Christmas Eve service. In the first preview service last October, the total attendance was 43. In last months preview service, the total attendance was 73. So, we grew from 43 to 118 in six months.

We’ll see what the second week attendance is next Sunday. Let the emotional roller coaster begin!:)



Church Planting, One Church, Pastors

Is Church Planting Declining in America?


The owner of a portable church equipment company told me recently that he is seeing a sharp decline in church planting.

He said that 80% of his clients are now megachurches starting multisite campuses.

Do you agree?

Is church planting (where the congregation starts from scratch) declining in North America?

Church Planting, Leadership

Launch- Prayer and Fasting Campaign








Prayer and Fasting

During the month of December, One Church will dedicate ourselves to prayer and fasting. Our prayer will be from Matthew 16:18, that Jesus would build His Church through us.

I have prayerfully decided to fast from food for 21 days. My fast will begin on December 2 and end on December 23. I will post updates, spiritual insights, prayer requests, etc. here on my blog. Please follow my blog and join One Church in prayer.


During the month of December, we need to complete our fundraising goal of $150,000. We are praying to raise $30,000 in 30 days.

100% of the funds raised in December will go toward One Church launch expenses including:

  • Direct Mail
  • Signage
  • Promotional Giveaways
  • Radio Commercials
  • Facebook and Newspaper Ads
  • Service Projects

You can give to One Church in two ways:

1. Make your check out to “One Church,” and mail it to PO Box 12036 Chandler, AZ 85248.

2. You may also give conveniently online here.

Thank you for your prayer and generous gving to launch weekly worship in One Church!

Church Planting, Leadership, Pastors, Uncategorized

Your First Launch Team Meeting

A lot of church planters have an obvious question about leading a launch team, and I’m surprised that there aren’t more resources available for it- “What do I do during my launch team meetings?”

My plan has been to take our first five weeks to work through Adam Hamilton’s three questions for church plants (from Leading Beyond the Walls). They help you define your church’s theology and specific call and distinctives:

  1. Why do people need Jesus? (1 week)
  2. Why do people need the Church (universal)? (1 week)
  3. Why do people need this church (the one you’re planting)? (3 weeks)

I feel like I know the individuals on the launch team fairly well because I’ve been building relationships with them for a few months. So, I assumed that our team was ready to jump into question one last night… and then it happened.:)

I started with an icebreaker game that went okay, but even as the game ended, I could tell that there was an elephant in the room. I had the feeling of having to try too hard, and it seemed like we weren’t really connecting the way I wanted to as a launch team. There was just a feeling that I was jumping ahead.

Looking back on it, I should have expected this, but I didn’t, and maybe this blog post will give someone else a heads up.

After the icebreaker game, I thought about what to do for about 5 seconds that seemed like an eternity. I decided to scrap my entire plan for the night and asked this question,

“What are your fears about starting a new church?”

Two hours later…:)

It was a phenomenal discussion. The first person to share was a very kind-natured young wife and mom who respectfully shared that she was concerned about tithing. Her honesty broke the ice (for real), and it set the tone for a very honest and healthy discussion about our launch team’s fears.

Different people brought up fears like- unmet expectations and disappointment, the pressure of leadership, the time commitments needed to start a church, and ultimately, that the church plant would fail.

It was probably the most honest meeting I’ve ever had in 10 years of full-time ministry.

In hindsight, it makes perfect sense to me, but I wish I would have intentionally planned this discussion for our first night. Essentially, it’s not 1995 anymore when you could plant a church, and as long as it had contemporary music, it would work. Lots of church plants have failed since then.

Our launch team is aware that a few church plants in our area have failed. They see mega churches who have the suburban family entertainment model of church down to a science. Church planting is actually being replaced by these same mega churches opening multi-site campuses.

Your first launch team meeting probably needs to allow your people to honestly express their fears, and then you need to honestly and realistically address them without defensiveness. If you can’t tell people why your church is needed, you’re not ready to plant anyway.

Intelligent people know that church planting is a high risk sport, and until you acknowledge this, it will be the elephant in the room.

Church Planting, Pastors, Uncategorized

Church Planting Tips- Continually Improve Your Preaching

I think one of the biggest reasons that church plants fail is inadequate preaching.

The truth is, there is no excuse for being a subpar preacher. There are just too many resources out there on how to improve your sermons and delivery. And there are too many great preachers out there to learn from.

Need more motivation? The people in your church who have been believers for awhile know this too. They’ve heard great preachers. They know what’s possible, and they know when you’re not improving. Notice that I said, “improving,” not “perfection.” Even if our sermons don’t stack up to Andy Stanley’s, Rob Bell’s, etc., we can at least learn from them and get better.

Plus, pastors pay a price for less than adequate preaching. If you preach well, everything in your church will improve. The attendance will improve. Giving will improve. Volunteering will improve. Momentum will improve, and your task as a leader and vision caster will become easier. Continually improving as a preacher makes everything else in pastoral ministry a little easier.

I’m passionate about continually becoming a better preacher, so I’ve compiled a pretty good list of resources. Here is a list of blog posts over the last couple of years about improving your preaching, including a post entitled, “Preach like Mitch Hedberg.” You know you wanna read it: