A Step by Step Guide on How to Start a Church
“Quick Summary” How to start a church from the basics and advance towards completion is a daunting task yet the most rewarding one. When understanding peoples’ pains and considering their betterment is your sole purpose, starting a Church would positively impact their lives, console them, and automatically spread God’s Love and message.
This blog will clarify the difference between church revitalization and church planting, the mandatory legal obligations to be fulfilled, probing into network affiliation, and building and launching your team of dedicated volunteers who acknowledge your vision and commit to continuing your crusade.
If all this information excites you, then arm yourself to make a difference in this world.
How to Start a Church from Scratch
Starting a church from scratch will embark you on the most exhilarating and life-changing journey. The first lesson to learn is to develop a clear vision and determine the purpose that will set forth the foundation of starting a church.
You must have the mission and vision close to your heart, as they will be your guiding force behind every decision, from choosing the best location for your church to defining the core values and principles for the congregation.
While you cannot be present everywhere, it is mandatory to create your task force comprising passionate and dedicated volunteers to commit their time, energy, and resources to start a church from scratch. It is vital to research the social, legal, and financial aspects that delve into how to plant a church from scratch, obtain non-profit status, and secure primary funding.
Now that the basic platform is well-prepared, it’s time to start building your relations with the community members. Spreading awareness about the church is equally important as people appreciate a personalized approach.
You may invest in strategic marketing efforts to generate visibility and awareness by instructing your volunteers to send out invites to people from all walks of life. Train your teammates to cultivate warm, welcoming, inclusive, and cohesive attitudes where everyone feels valued and accepted.
When is the Right Time to Start Church
Any time would be the best to build God’s own home, yet determining the right time to start a church requires complex considerations and appropriate decisions that impact the community's future.
Start with evaluating the spiritual and practical requirements of the people around your church to determine if there is a gap in the delivery of religious services or a lack of a specific denomination. This research will provide clear metrics stating if the time is right to start a church and whether the trust and belief of the congregation will be strengthened.
Suppose you possess the necessary knowledge, skill set, and resources and are well-prepared to take charge of this great endeavor. Yet, it is recommended to consult trusted advisors and seek help and guidance from senior and experienced pastors ready to offer valuable insights and encourage you to achieve your mission.
Related Blog: Best Ways to Managing Your Church's Finance
Differences Between Starting a Church and Starting a Ministry
At first glance, you might not feel much of a difference between starting a church and starting a ministry, but the fact is that each has different challenges to overcome.
The first task you must focus on while starting a church is to develop and establish a fresh religious community that believes in regular worship and sacraments in a more formalized pattern. Choosing the location for the church, creating your purpose-based teams of volunteers, appointing their leaders, and managing the legal and financial profiles with careful planning require you to make strategic decisions.
On the other hand, ministries are often started with a prime focus on specific causes or outreach initiatives, involving running campaigns, generating funds for the church’s operations, and networking with neighborhood churches and social speakers and mentors.
Ministries have the liberty to operate within the premises of their church or independently. Members of a ministry generally attend to causes like helping out homeless citizens, prevention and recovery from drug and alcohol addictions, youth mentoring, and generating awareness and eradicating other social evils prevailing in society.
Ministries have clear mission statements and protocols to follow. Operating outside these is not entertained. Ministries also create and run effective and purposeful programs targeted at the betterment of society.
Starting a church or a ministry has its challenges, but you still need souls with passion, dedication, and pure hearts to serve others without discrimination or prejudice.
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Handling the Church Finances
You can run your business effectively only with well-planned, well-allocated finances, and the church is no exception.
Besides being critical, church finances require extra care, stewardship, and transparency in maintaining positive transactional health. The church ministry is responsible for ensuring the financial health of the church.
It also undertakes steps to manage the income flow so that the church remains self-sufficient and its operations and activities become sustainable. Instead of a one-time donation from the congregation, the office bearers of the church initiate methods on how to increase giving in their church through weekly and monthly offerings.
Fostering a generous attitude and educating the members about biblical principles facilitates the church volunteers to collect adequate donations. Not everyone would be so willing to support charity unless the church ministry inspires them by communicating the church's vision, mission, and the positive impact of their donated money on the overall well-being of the congregation.
It is essential to win over their trust before you can see the committed offerings flowing in that financially support the church. Church ministry and the administration must embrace technology and align with social media platforms to generate awareness about church programs and campaigns.
Technology will create opportunities for your church to accept donations through online apps, electronic tithing, and even recurring donations while providing convenience and flexibility to your members. You can read through our blog to understand how to set up a church facebook page. It will give key insights.
Now that you have upgraded the church to the latest technological forefront, it is essential to commission devices like giving kiosks that help you accept donations during prayer meetings, sermons, fundraisers, special offerings, or social awareness campaigns. With kiosks of different capacities, features, and sizes flooding the gadget market, you must wisely choose the right Church giving kiosk that functions towards enhancing the financial health of the church.
Handling the church finances is tough yet manageable with the condition that the church ministry and the volunteers adhere to robust and reliable technologies for a better tomorrow.
What’s the Difference Between Church Revitalization and Church Planting
They might sound similar, but Church Revitalization differs greatly from Church Planting. Church planting focuses on building and establishing a new church for the Christian community. In contrast, church revitalization is an approach to renew, revive, and revitalize an existing church that might be facing numerous challenges, a decrease in the number of members, falling short of funds/income, poor scope of growth, following conventional methods of donations or the inefficiency of the ministry.
Here, the present condition of the church is assessed, and new strategies are created and implemented to bring in positive change and an acceptable level of growth.
Church planting is about establishing a church from scratch in a location where the community wants it most to continue its religious practices, or there is a lack of religious presence. In either condition, the core purpose is to create a better home for God with the expectation to uplift the congregation and strengthen it spiritually and socially.
Here are a few important aspects about how to open a church service and conduct it successfully.
Start a Small Discussion Group
Everything begins small but grows bigger when fueled with people, passion, and progress. Before building a new church, it is essential to have a community of followers who align their faith and religious beliefs with the church.
You must search for like-minded people who can join your crusade and make your mission successful. A small discussion group creates room for open-minded and respectful discussion, allowing the group members or participants to share their views, opinions, perspectives, and experiences that have made a difference in their lives.
Understanding why church growth is so important helps you gain deeper insights into the implicit sources of motivations and aspirations that are the driving forces for your community's growth. Having a small group for discussion will help you bring your ideas to the table, examine different aspects, and consider other economic and social opportunities and limitations before concluding.
When this small group connects with people on a wider scale, they should be able to address questions like:
- What is this group about?
- What factors, like geography, doctrine, and denomination, make the group unique?
- What does this group wish to communicate?
- How can people from outside be a part of the community?
- What difference will it bring into their lives?
When your group meets the general public, it is essential to stay focused on the purpose. Avoid using heavy marketing jargon during the conversation. The participants must feel united with the church’s vision and commit themselves to fulfilling its mission.
Turn Your Small Group Into a Launch Team
Now that your small group is well-equipped with every aspect of establishing the church and you have a community of followers who trust and support your mission, it’s time to convert the group into your launch team with the sole purpose of generating regular donations and strategically leverage the existing relationships and resources to establish your dream church.
Upgrading a group member to your core team requires him to be passionate and committed to growth. You must engage them in a dialogue and train them on various aspects of donations and fundraising activities, emphasizing the impact of generosity on fulfilling the church’s mission. You can go beyond traditions and equip them with the right resources and tools to educate them and their fellow members on various offering opportunities.
Who doesn’t love stories? Encourage your core team members to narrate their personal stories and share positive experiences about giving that impacted the social and fundraising campaigns. Transforming your small group into your core launch team passionate about enhancing the donation ratio and spreading awareness about their church will tap into the society of the most influential and affluent people, creating a foundation to start a church from scratch.
a. Define the Scope, Membership, Location, and Doctrine of Your Church
A church must have a clear and well-defined scope (of operation.) With digitalization, geographical boundaries cannot limit the expanse of any church. When it comes to the well-being of the community and society, a church breaks all the barriers and moves beyond to serve all those who follow it while ensuring their social and spiritual growth.
Every church must offer an inclusive yet diverse membership. The church ministry must inculcate a feeling of brotherhood amongst the members by accepting people from all walks of life, ethnicities, and social and financial backgrounds.
Churches must encourage a feeling of Unity in Diversity.
Choose the location for your church within the heart of the city or town. A church is a beacon of hope, faith, and unity; hence, it must be visible from a distance and easily accessible to all seeking spiritual guidance and fellowship.
The church premises must be adequately ventilated, well-lit for clear view, and installed with wayfinding and safety signs to help visitors reach their desired destinations. The ministry must make proper arrangements to accommodate physically challenged and senior citizens during prayer and service sessions or community gatherings.
The community will look up to your church as God’s Home, where the teachings of Christ are deeply rooted. Your church must firmly believe in the doctrine of love, compassion, empathy, and forgiveness for all beings.
When every church member believes in the power of prayer and develops a strong relationship with God, it creates the basis for personal transformation and spiritual progress. Your community will expect the church to advocate social justice, equality, and fairness for all alongwith the upliftment of marginalized communities.
b. Assign Corporate Officers and Structure
A church is not just a building displaying architectural beauty but a complete organization that should be structured well by the church’s leadership. A church’s organizational pattern comprises corporate officers, experienced members, and volunteers responsible for efficient and effective governance.
Your congregation will appreciate it if your church has a carefully designed organizational structure that believes in and promotes transparency, efficiency, and collaboration in everything they do for the well-being and social progress of humanity. To achieve milestones, you must have a guide who is experienced and a visionary. Hence, churches create a board of directors responsible for the smooth and efficient governance of the church.
These directors come from different walks of life. They are skilled and experienced in spiritual leadership, administration, finance, and community outreach. The church leadership must hire individuals possessing specialized skills, experience, and expertise in different areas as President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary.
They work closely with the board of directors, resolve challenges, and are responsible for the smooth functioning of the church.
For communication, member engagement, and administrative tasks, the church leadership or the board of directors can instate committees and teams for various purposes, and these teams are responsible for managing worship schedules, conducting education and awareness programs, social events, and community fundraising drives.
c. Name Your Church
Naming your church is the most challenging task any church leadership could face. People visit the church to find solace, inspiration, answers to their socio-economic turmoil, and guidance for their spiritual growth. Your church’s name must symbolize safety, commitment, and a supportive environment to its members while they tread on the path to spirituality, deeper self-understanding, and personal growth.
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Start Your Church Legally
a. Consult a Lawyer
The first step is to consult a lawyer or an advocate who can understand the church’s perspective, conduct necessary research, and explain the legal requirements and obligations specific to any religious organization in your jurisdiction wishing to avail of tax exemption.
Your lawyer would want to see your legal documents to double-check the legal status. He would also ask you to provide a few basic financial documents that support the church’s financial health. Your lawyer may charge you anywhere from $1,200 to $1,500 for your first consultation. The succeeding consultations would average up to $500 per hour.
Before you sign up with a lawyer, it is advisable to verify his professional background.
b. Organize According to Tax-Exemption Rules
The Internal Revenue Service offers an online training program for organizations seeking tax-exempt status. This program will
benefit your church members.
You must visit the IRS's official 501(c)(3) webpage to learn how to become and remain a legitimate non-profit business.
You must apply for 501(c)(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service to become a non-profit organization. IRS will review your application and allow you a tax-exempt status if everything is in order, which will help you to receive tax-deductible donations through online and mobile giving modes.
c. Ensure Your 501(c)(3) Status
Considering that you have fulfilled all the requirements and have submitted your application for 501(c)(3), you should file the IRS’s 1023 form to request the confirmation of the application and approval of the tax-exempt status.
d. Fill Out the SS4 Form for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Once your 01(c)(3) status gets approved by the IRS, your church will officially become a tax-exempted organization.
After becoming an official tax-exempted organization, you must apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) using the IRS’s SS4 form.
e. Open a Bank Account With Your EIN
- Now that you have the EIN in the church's name, you can do the following.
- You can begin by opening a bank account in the name of your church using your EIN.
- You can start recruiting candidates for different positions and pay their remuneration from this bank account.
- You can start accepting offline and online donations from the followers and credit them into the church’s bank account.
Consider Affiliation With a Network or Denomination
Once the IRS proclaims your status as a tax-exempted non-profit entity, you can consider affiliating with a church plantation network or denomination. This strategic step will benefit your church while opening new avenues for growth within your community of church-goers.
Now comes the big guy. There are larger organizations that work alongside the church. They offer hand holding to the upcoming churches, advise the church leaders on various strategic decisions, and provide specialized options for social welfare, evangelism, growth, and affiliation with multiple denominations that might seem impossible for individuals. These organizations are all called Parachurch Organizations.
Considering that a church is an independent body...
- Why should a church affiliate with a network or denomination?
- Is it mandatory for a church to affiliate?
- What benefit does the affiliation bring to the church?
- Will this affiliation affect your church’s theology?
You might get baffled by many such questions; let’s dig in.
These networks of parachurch organizations are there to handhold you and open growth opportunities. They are like ladders that one must climb to grab success.
It is not mandatory to align with a larger network or denomination, but having one with your church pays you in the long run. These organizations work across different denominations and have an influential impact on the congregation.
These large networks support you with infrastructural and financial benefits and offer spiritual, health, and economic benefits to your clergy members and bishops. Such parachurch organizations conduct seminars, workshops, conferences, and networking events for church members and leadership to help the church flourish.
They also offer fundraising strategies, best financial management practices, and customized training programs for church leaders. With their expert guidance, you will learn how to increase giving in your church, how to open a church service, and how to run a ministry.
Staying autonomous sounds appealing and lucrative but may vitiate your growth. On the contrary, aligning with larger networks brings their pros and cons. Despite the benefits received from these organizations, you might have to alter your theology and beliefs. You may have to compromise a few of your principles to accommodate the new thoughts, ideas, and processes. All of these are generally meant for mutual benefit.
If your church leadership and the board of directors unanimously approve these theological alterations, your church and its congregants will become a part of a broader religious affiliation. Such large alignments foster unity and solidarity among members appreciating similar beliefs and values.
Grow by Being Excellent in Love
"Love Thy Neighbor" is one of the Great Commandments found in the Hebrew Bible.
Now that your church is ready, you must begin spreading God’s Love and His message amongst those who believe in Him.
Adding the element of love will deeply reward your mission to grow your church while assuring the community that love is the language of empathy, care, understanding, and humanity.
a. Be Organized
If you want your church to win a special place in the hearts of the followers and receive more offerings, it is essential to stay organized in every aspect. The church ministry can manage finances and track donations efficiently with well-planned and well-structured technology.
Your members will appreciate the convenience and security of a user-friendly online giving portal like DonateMo’s ChMS that streamlines the donation process and allows them to set up recurring offerings that add to the church’s income.
To have an in-depth understanding, you can read our blog, choose the right Church giving kiosk.
Maintaining accurate records, quickly acknowledging the donations, and thanking them for their generosity will not only please your donors but inspire them to give regularly on a weekly and monthly basis. For a hassle-free giving process, you can choose the right church-giving kiosk.
b. Get DonateMo’s ChMS
You can always have DonateMo’s ChMS as part of your technical infrastructure. It helps prioritize and streamline your organization’s donation process and projects your church as a professional, honest, and socially accountable entity. Having DonateMo’s ChMS instills trust and confidence in your members, motivates them to remain generous, and helps your church grow and flourish, fulfilling your dream to start a church from scratch.
c. Be Friendly
Being friendly doesn’t cost you a dime. All the more, it will add believers to your crusade to spread God’s Love.
The church leaders must instruct the volunteers and other employees to reach out to the community members through outreach events, motivational speaker events, cook-out events, small group meetings, and awareness campaigns for young adults.
Inviting people to these events shouldn’t be an issue, as DonateMo’s ChMS helps you easily register them. You may also temporarily set up a kiosk for giving at the venue. Members who register through the kiosk at the venue can win giveaways like tablets, movie tickets, or special coupons for a soccer event.
d. Be Collaborative
Comparing and competing doesn’t take you far, but collaborating does because you are unique, and so are others.
Collaboration with neighborhood churches is the answer to “Why is Church growth important?” When you compete, bigger churches might steal away your members. But, when you collaborate, people, resources, knowledge, and expertise are shared across relations to ensure mutual growth, progress, and development of all the churches, which benefits the Christian community.
Collaborating with churches in your vicinity opens opportunities to host joint events like group prayers, shared testimonies, and community-led worship sessions. When multiple churches engage the entire community in an event, it fosters a sense of ownership and belonging within the participants.
You might be fortunate to collaborate with a church whose members are technically sound. If the teams gel well, they will help you with How to set up a Church Facebook page. Moving a step further, their leaders or management employees will explain “Why is Church growth important?” and share ideas and insights to enable you to Choose the right Church giving kiosk for your church.
So, you can achieve milestones for your church by being collaborative and helpful to others.
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Now that you are determined to start a church, it is crucial to decide the right time to start a church. You must carefully consider the community's spiritual needs and receptiveness, resources needed and availability, and teams of dedicated and passionate individuals willing to spread God’s message.
Church finances must be your top priority. The church leadership and the ministry must approach it with utmost responsibility and transparency. This approach will make your church self-sufficient and ensure sustainable growth.
The significance of affiliation with a network or denomination is critical for any new church. Aligning your church with the neighborhood churches will bring benefits, valuable resources, and guidance and open opportunities for mutual growth, sustainability, theological enhancements, and smooth governance through like-minded people sharing common goals and values.
To help your congregation grow and flourish, you must emphasize excellence in love through acts of kindness, compassion, acceptance, and inclusivity for all members without discrimination of background or beliefs. It is the responsibility of the church leadership to create an environment where people feel genuinely valued and welcomed.
The commitment to spreading love is a powerful catalyst in attracting new congregants and nurturing the present ones while ensuring the church thrives spiritually and financially.