how to start a church

How To Start A Church: Your Detailed Guide

By | Resources

Taking the lead and planting your church is a serious decision. This venture requires a lot of confidence and planning to properly pull off. It is okay to be a bit scared at first because you don’t know what to expect.

You would think that with the decline in church attendance that now is the wrong time to open a church. In reality, now is when you should seize the opportunity because so many people have defected from their church. There has been a growth in the number of believers that are vulnerable to identifying with a new home.

Thousands of Americans have taken it upon themselves to start a church. You have the power to do the same. Many startup churches fail before they see any success at all but that’s the result of erratic planning. With the right strategy, effective marketing, and your commitment⁠—we believe you can build a worship sanctuary that will last.

The Planning Process

Having the right plan will help you go about starting your congregation on the right foot. The hard part of figuring out your strategy is understanding what you should plan. It can be confusing for a newcomer because there are so many variables at play. That said, we will give you some insight into the most important factors to plan out for your startup church.

So, let’s begin…

Who will you be?

It is important to understand what your identity is within your congregation.

Will you be involved in preaching or only serve as the director?

Who do you need?

What positions need to be filled? Who do you have on-hand so far?

What values will the church hold?

Every church has unique values. Define yours and don’t defect from your vision.

These are simple points to think over. Now let’s get started with the rest.

What is the Denomination?

The biggest focal point of any church is its denomination. Assuming it’s a Christian-based church, the main denominations that you might choose from include:

  • Roman Catholicism (1.313 billion)
  • Independent Catholicism (18 million)
  • Protestantism (920 million)
  • Anglicanism (85 million)
  • Eastern Orthodox (270 million)
  • Oriental Orthodoxy (80 million)
  • Non-trinitarian Restorianism (35 million)

These figures indicate the number of church members worldwide as shown on Wikipedia. In the United States, the most popular religions are Protestantism (48.9%) and Roman Catholicism (23%).

It is important to stick to your beliefs. Church planting is something that is done out of deep faith in our Lord and no ingenuine decisions should be made along the way. However, you must avoid alienating potential church members by getting too specific with your denomination.

If it applies to you⁠—choose to be a Protestantism or Roman Catholicism-based church and don’t go micro-niche by further detailing your denomination. Your message and goals can fall in line with specific beliefs but you can still be welcoming toward all Protestants or Roman Catholics.

Alternatively, you may want to consider starting a non-denominational church.

What is the Branding?

Just like starting a business, a new church should receive proper branding so it is attractive to potential members. Good branding can make all the difference when attempting to increase attendance and turn churchgoers into disciples.

The body of your church will grow and help boost overall success because of the team dynamic at play. But, for this to happen your church must appeal to enough people and that starts with the “branding” you choose.

What’s the name?

Start by reading some tips on naming a church so you can wrap your head around this subject. This decision will carry with you so be thoughtful. You do not have to be overly creative with the name that you choose⁠—many churches are named based on the street or neighborhood where it’s located.

Don’t stress too much—the identity you carry is what truly counts.

Who will you appeal to?

Figure out your church’s target demographic. The main variable will be what denomination they are but you should always dig further. If you are a pastor already, consider who your sermons and personal beliefs resonate with to detail your typical church member. You do not need to overthink this subject but it is still good to generally outline your target demographic.

Here’s a good idea—define these people by “mindsets” instead.

What are the goals of your church?

Church planting is often done because a void is seen that needs to be filled. Think about what inspired you to look into building a church in the first place. Look at what your church body can do through discipleship and the different goals that can be achieved. Realistically speaking, church goals should be dynamic and there should be both big and small targets.

Here is a good church goal-planning strategy that should help you with planning your hopeful achievements.

Who are the pastors?

One of the brainstorming questions we mentioned at the start was “Who do you need?”. Your pastors are the glue of your congregation and hold a fundamental role in the church’s success. It is important to identify and plan around these individuals.

Without a doubt, make sure you determine who your regular pastors will be⁠—and hopefully get on talking terms with a few guest speakers⁠ as well. Figuring out the identities that will represent your church is key and should be done during the planning stage. Of course, things might change in this department but always be selective and only bring in quality fits to your congregation.

How to find pastors for your church

It can be difficult for a startup church to find a dedicated preacher.

In fact… it’s very hard for smaller churches to find a willing pastor.

Sometimes you are better off getting an interim pastor to serve the role for the first 3-6 months or so. This person might turn into a permanent speaker. Since you cannot guarantee successful attendance from day one—not putting too much pressure on a prospective pastor is a good idea.

With an interim pastor on board, even if it’s someone with less experience, it becomes easier to attract other preachers to your church. You might be able to fill the role with a senior pastor as the lead preacher. You do not want to build up a congregation based on convenience; be patient with finding the right people for your team, but always make sure all roles are filled.

Read online to find tips for finding a pastor for your church to better grasp your options.

What else to know when team-building

Remember: Choosing a new pastor is a difficult process when there are multiple parties involved. It is a good idea to make a constitution that applies when filling important roles. A vote amongst your congregation is a good idea. As your church grows, the percentage of votes required to pass a decision should increase to prevent creating unease within your team.

Planning a non-denominational church? Many pastors are influenced by the idea of preaching at this kind of church. The non-denominational movement is growing in size and is becoming a more acceptable choice. Push the reputability that comes with your non-denominational church when trying to bring a new speaker on board

Lastly, you will need more than one preacher prepared for sure. Your lead pastor is important but you should focus on finding an associate pastor, assistant pastor, and youth pastor.

Interview potential church staff members. 

Make sure their message falls in line with what you want to achieve. Your team should be passionate about the goals that you set out for your church. Forcing a congregation simply to have all your “ducks in a row” will backfire every time. There has to be heart from all, not just you!

Establishing the Church

Your general outline is now in place. Next, how do you establish the church?

This process is the tiring part. It’s all logistics and little emotion.

We will walk you through some of the most important steps.

Choosing Your Location

God calls it upon all of his disciples to plant their own church. If you have the ambition to achieve such a missionary goal there will be no challenge that you cannot overcome. Ask for His guidance and embark on your mission to find chapel space with the help of the spirit of the Lord.

Next, begin figuring out your preferences and check your options.

Where would you like to plant your church?

You probably have an idea of what part of town or which neighborhood you would like to plant your church. Finding the right location can be difficult but the searching pains will vary depending on where you live and what the real estate market is like.

Without a doubt, your first course of action should be to look at all of the currently vacant churches and see if any fit your criteria. You can then look at converting a zoning-appropriate building if none are in an acceptable area.

Of course, when planting a church it is not essential to have a full-size venue from day one. Your plan can be a bit staggered and could involve renting out spaces to host meetings and sermons in the early stage of your growth. That way, your major real estate-related investment will only come once you have built up your team and developed a relationship with the members of your church.

Determine Your Costs

You must determine your budget and analyze your costs.

Take a basic accounting course if you are not qualified.

Make use of an accounting software program to keep it all simple.

Check out cost estimates for church planting to get an idea of what you might expect to pay when starting up your own church. Consider both your launch costs and your operational costs.

Look for fundraising and sponsorship opportunities. Here are some fundraising tips that can help when trying to raise capital for your startup church. Be creative and get some suggestions from others on your team too.

Getting Finances in Order

Many important things need to be done to make sure your church meets basic requirements financially and legally. Below we will go over a handful of points that should not be ignored.

How do you get an EIN?

You need to fill out Form SS-4 to receive your EIN (Employee Identification Number). You can do this online, by mail, or through fax. Check out the IRS information page to find everything you need to know about getting an EIN for your church.

How do you open a bank account?

You need to prepare everything the bank will want to see. The documents you should have ready include a copy of your proof of incorporation, “meeting minutes” from the board meeting where the bank account decision was decided and signed for, your EIN number, and your personal ID. Make sure to confirm with the bank if there is anything else that they will require from you.

How do you get your Proof of Incorporation?

The requirements for how to incorporate a church will vary depending on the state where you are located. Usually, the process involves submitting forms to your Secretary of State. This process is only different in three states. In Louisiana, the state approves or rejects the incorporation request but the documents are ultimately processed and stored with the local Parish. In Michigan and Virginia, there is a Corporations Commission that handles everything. Check the site for your state or give them a call to get the exact details on how to incorporate your church.

Being incorporated is important. It takes personal liability away from the church if anything happens to any members or staff. It gives you the chance to qualify for some grants via both the federal government and certain faith-based groups. It gives you cheaper mailing costs and various other types of discounts. Learn more about the why and how of incorporating a church if you are feeling a bit out of touch on this subject.

How do you get grants?

If you are incorporated you have a chance to qualify for some grants for your church. Check out this simple guide for finding church grants to get a better idea of where to look to find the available options. These grants won’t just help with startup and operational costs but also with raising capital for a mission or special event. Here are more tips covering church grants and the faith-based foundations that supply them.

How do you become tax-exempt?

Churches are qualified for tax-exempt status through the IRS. Nothing must be done to maintain this status. You can find out more about this exemption and the exception from filing the annual information return (Form 990/990-N/990-EZ) on this page.

Marketing Your Church

Now you get to the fun part.

You need to gain attention for your startup church. After you get known, the next step is to increase the attendance growth. When this is no longer a concern you can focus on upping financial contributions and church commitment/discipleship from your active members.

Two quick pieces of advice…

This YouTube video touches on how you can optimize your church for growth behind the scenes.

The first piece of advice that is given (by pastors-turned-entrepreneurs) is that you should always be measuring your metrics. This aspect matters in the business world but far too many churches fail to measure enough factors to truly be able to optimize for growth.

You should look online at different list-based articles and metric-tracking tool feature pages to compile a comprehensive list of what to measure. This list will give you 20 metrics to track which is a good start⁠—you can borrow some standard business metrics as well.

The second piece of advice is to be strategic in your hiring by outsourcing many jobs to qualified people. Instead of keeping it all in-house, get expert help because the difference matters. It might seem easy enough to “do it yourself” but a church marketing guru will always be a step ahead.

You can handle most of this stuff yourself at first, but as your church grows an emphasis should be put on outsourcing to experts. Some tasks are more important to outsource than others. Use your logic and always consider how much it will impact your church’s growth and reputation.

How to Gain Attention

Getting exposure to a new church can be very tough.

Here are some methods that have worked for others in your shoes:

Host a “Neighborhood Day”

Have a BBQ for families and friends in the community. Make the event non-denominational and focus on having a good time. Consider this your “housewarming party” and use it as a means of networking and building early relationships.

The people that live closest to your church location are the easiest first leads to convert into actual attendees. Even if they don’t stick around, many that live nearby are likely willing to visit your church at first and return for occasional events/sermons.

Live Stream via Facebook

Build interest in your sermons and get your church’s message across through social media platforms. Facebook, in particular, can be very beneficial. You can run a live stream and talk about your mission to plant a church, the goals you want to achieve, etc. You can live stream sermons held in rented venues before launching in your official space.

The social reach that Facebook offers is immensely powerful. Use your live streaming as a way to connect with prospective church members. These people will share content from your page and increase attention to your church. You can make a big announcement for your opening day and continue promoting your church this way every week.

Use Paid Advertising Methods

Local advertising methods can work. For example, sending out pamphlets in the mail is costly but not as expensive when done efficiently. Target households within a 2-5 mile radius depending on the population in the area. Do whatever you can to get the word out—put up posters, hand out flyers, pay for a radio or newspaper ad, etc. 

Your launch day is a big moment and needs to be planned to perfection. Get your marketing materials in order as early as possible. Think through all the different promotional avenues that are available to you and don’t be afraid to bring in some outside help.

Plan separately for member retention.

It is hard to keep church members even after they attend a service a few times. You must build a relationship, create a community feel, and engage everyone to keep up your attendance numbers. 

Establishing a Digital Footprint

In today’s age, every church needs to have a proper presence on the web. People are always seeking information and engagement through digital sources. From your perspective, having an established position online and on social media will empower your church to grow!

You need:

  1. A social media presence
  2. A website
  3. A church app

We will go over these three variables in more detail.

Social Media Marketing for Your Church

Your church should have an active Facebook page at the minimum. Some other platforms you might want to engage with people through would include Instagram and Twitter. These social media networks are the most populated and create the best results from a marketing perspective.

You should hire a social media marketing expert to handle your social pages. The way to approach everything will vary depending on the specific network. The best techniques are not easy to learn and succeeding means knowing how to adapt “on the fly”. Even so, learn how your church page should be used to get an idea of what needs to be planned out.

Think of your Facebook page as your brand image and reputation. Anyone can discover it. The way your page is presented will give the first impression that could attract or detract potential church members. The way your page is used also has the power to engage current church members which helps your church sustain its growth. Remember, the more happy and engaged members you have⁠—the more disciples you will have on hand to serve your church!

Your Church Needs a Website

Your church’s website is a landing page for current members and potential newcomers. The way your homepage is presented will play a big role in how people engage with your site. The right layout can influence visitors to go through what are essentially the “steps of a marketing funnel”. You should take a few minutes to learn more about how website conversion funnels work and understand what they can achieve.

You have the power to direct your visitors to act as you want. You can encourage new people to try your church and influence discipleship or contributions from your active members.

Take a look at our list of the best church website designs of 2019 to get an idea of what works. We provide commentary on some of the key elements of each listed website design. Your website has many variables that matter ranging from the page tabs to typography choices. Take the time to learn the ins and outs—we discuss the marketing strength of certain design features in that piece as well, which is very important.

How can you easily set up a website?

Your options include:

  1. Outsourcing the web design work to a freelancer in your area or online. Websites like Upwork and PeoplePerHour are full of low-cost designers and developers that can bring your vision to life.
  2. Setting up your website on your own through a builder like Wix, Weebly, or SquareSpace. These services come with a recurring cost but the simplicity makes it easy for a beginner to set their site up without needing outside help.
  3. Building your website through a premium WordPress theme. ThemeForest is the most popular site to buy theme licenses from and you can check their church themes here. Most of the themes are extremely user-friendly and the WordPress backend itself is very easy to use and update.

Increase Donations & Engagement with a Church App

Many churches are incorporating a mobile app as a way to increase engagement with their members. At the same time, the application serves as a simple and secure transaction source for church donations. Along with push notifications, the right app content can grab the user and build their commitment to your church.

Churches use their app to supply members with:

  • Regular sermons
  • Event invitations
  • Volunteer requests
  • Contribution requests
  • Plus whatever else…

Our “Church Giving App” gives you the ability to accept donations from mobile users. The payment options are immense (including Apple Pay). We’ve also put our software into a tablet-style kiosk machine which receives 24% more donation $’s on average.

If you want to wait for an app till a later date that’s understandable. You can still go for text-to-give donations which work incredibly well. We also have embedded give forms that can go onto your website (contact us to go over your options). 

Managing the Church

In the last section of our detailed guide, we want to touch on the important factors regarding the management of your church. We’ve already covered planning the startup and marketing to gain attendance. But, it is essential to make sure that your church is operational and obliging to all expectations.

Some important things to consider includes: your accounting, on-site security, event planning, and discipleship growth.

How to Handle Church Accounting

It is usually good to leave your accounting work in the hands of a professional. You can run the books at first on your own but pass this role to an expert when your church starts to grow. It would be a good idea to make use of a popular church accounting software program like FlockBase or Aplos Church Accounting.

Check this review list to compare your options.

How to Handle Church Security

Security is of the utmost importance. Threats will always exist but the more your church grows the more you should do to protect your members and staff. Take a look at our list of 10 church security tips to get an idea of the different practices and protocols that you should make common.

The points we cover include:

  1. Specifically detail all assigned roles
  2. Run background checks on members/volunteers
  3. Develop emergency scripts for speakers
  4. Invest in communication tools like walkie talkies
  5. Always have security cameras and cover the entries
  6. Consider the position of your pastor’s pulpit
  7. Be certain everyone is aware of the exit points
  8. Communicate, discuss, and develop with your team
  9. Watch out for other sources of disruption
  10. Create a sense of joy from within

How to Plan & Schedule Events

Planning and scheduling events should be done amongst all staff members. You can hold weekly meetings to go over what’s happening with the church, its congregation, the community, etc. These meetings are the perfect opportunity to go over any events that you would like to plan. You can always have guests join in on these meetings if any upcoming events will involve other churches, speakers, or any other third-party.

You will have to address each situation individually based on the circumstances. For example, if there is an upcoming missionary trip you want to make sure it is scheduled for a time that works for most members. In this scenario, it might make the most sense to create a poll asking which days work for your members and which days are not possible.

The goal is to leave the opportunity open for as many members as possible. You want to sustain their discipleship which is why optimizing your scheduling efforts is so important.

Using a live schedule spreadsheet through Google Sheets or an actual program or mobile app would be a great idea. Many mobile apps are full of beneficial features for teams like yours. Take the time to look for one and get everyone to start making use of it if you like that idea.

Also, consider the financial side of planning an event. You need to make sure it is workable with your church’s budget. To offset the costs it would be a good idea to get fundraising and sponsoring for as much of the cost of the expenditure as you can. Plan to raise funds ahead of when the event or excursion will take place. You can do a vote with your board members to determine if the opportunity is worth the cost before green-lighting it.

How to Build Discipleship

Solid attendance and commitment to your church result in a growth in disciples under your congregation. Establishing this relationship requires evolving a new church member into someone who feels like they are a full part of your team. The “we’re all in this together” approach is fundamental and should be ingrained into every aspect of your growth efforts.

Read this article on discipleship culture in the church to understand how you can influence your members to get more involved. Their description explains it well by claiming that people do not just go to church and become disciples overnight. They attend, get baptized, and then become teachers/servants. The church is responsible for evangelizing non-believers, establishing their beliefs through baptism and teaching, and then equipping them with the knowledge and power to be disciples.

Two other key things you should do to build discipleship within your church include incorporating disciple-making sermons in your weekly service and pushing opportunities for your believers to teach and serve the Lord. You can also seek out the help of a senior pastor to build a detailed conversion strategy.

Conclusion… It's Possible

Church planting is an intimidating process but that doesn’t mean you should give up the idea. Many people succeed at starting a church of their own. With His help, you will find no struggle too overwhelming to overcome. However, it WILL take a lot of planning to make everything work.

At NewFire Giving we regularly provide hands-on consultation for both new and established churches. You’re welcome to reach out for help. Check out our Ignite Coaching service page to better understand what we can do to help grow your church and maximize your donations.

digital giving

7 Digital Giving Myths That Are Crippling Your Church

By | Resources

There are a lot of myths about the effects of digital giving. Some of those myths encourage churches to stay away from technologies that let members donate through text messages, kiosks, apps, and websites. Others paint an overly-optimistic picture of how quickly digital giving can grow a donation base.

It’s time to dispel seven of the most common digital giving myths. They are crippling your church by preventing you from making smart, informed decisions.

Let’s set the record straight.

1. People Prefer Donating Cash to Churches

As a kid, you probably watched deacons or other members of your church pass around collection plates. People added cash money and checks to the plates to fund the church’s mission.

Do you believe that people still prefer donating cash money? That belief could make it harder for you to reach your funding goals.

People Carry Less Cash Than They Used To

Surveys show that people carry cash less often than they used to. According to research from U.S. Bank, 50% of consumers carry cash less than half of the time. Even those who keep money in their wallets tend to carry less than $50.

As society moves away from cash-based exchanges, churches will find it increasingly difficult to solicit donations. Digital giving software makes it easier for people to give money to their churches without stopping at ATMs on Sunday mornings.

Digital Giving Helps People Track Tax Deductions

Donating to church can help people lower their tax burdens. They can only take advantage of the tax benefit, though, when they itemize and document their deductions.

The IRS doesn’t put a lot of trust in taxpayers. It wants to see a proof before it accepts deductions. With digital giving, your donors get electronic receipts. That means they can get their tax deductions, and your office staff doesn’t have to provide receipts to individuals.

2. Digital Giving Software Charges Too Many Service Fees for Churches to Afford

Companies that make digital giving software must charge fees to make money. Some churches believe that the fees will cost too much for them to afford. For most churches, though, that isn’t the case.

Increased Donations Make Up for Service Fees

The fees that you pay a software company will take a small portion away from your donations. Fortunately, digital giving can increase your overall contributions. When you increase the amount of money coming into your church, you make up for the service fees charged by vendors.

Trustworthy Processors Keep Fees as Affordable as Possible

Software companies understand that charitable organizations have limited resources. The most trustworthy payment processors, therefore, keep their fees as affordable as possible. They need to earn money, but they also need your church to thrive.

NewFire Giving helps make digital payments affordable by giving you control over the services you use. Some of the company’s most popular options include:

NewFire Giving doesn’t force you to use options that you don’t want. Instead, you choose the digital giving opportunities that you think will fit your congregation best.

In the end, you get affordable fees for giving software that matches your needs.

3. Only Big Churches Benefit From Digital Giving

Since digital giving software often charges a monthly base price and takes a small percentage of each donation, people assume that digital donations only work well for huge churches.

Big churches, of course, bring in more money because they have larger congregations.

Small churches, however, need to invest in software so they can accept more donations from people. Even with a small congregation, it doesn’t take long before you cover the monthly cost of a digital giving app.

Small Churches Benefit From a Larger Base of Donors

When your church can accept digital donations, you automatically increase your donor base.

The most recent data from the Pew Research Center Religious Landscape Study show a decline in attendance at church and other religious services. People are more likely to go to church a few times a year instead of attending once per week.

Members of your congregation probably don’t donate cash unless they attend a service. With digital giving, though, they can donate money to your church even when they can’t come to Sunday service.

Former Members Can Keep Giving Digitally

Former members of your church may still want to give you money and watch you succeed. If they have moved to a new neighborhood or city, though, they may find it difficult to visit.

You can use your digital giving platform to maintain relationships with former members and encourage them to donate.

With digital giving, you have a way to get more money without taking people’s time. Even people who have moved from your congregation to another church may see the benefit of donating to your small church.

4. Churches Can Expect More Donations as Soon as They Launch Digital Giving

Digital giving opens your church to a whole new way of receiving donations. That’s exciting news!

Which is why you need to keep your expectations in check.

Some members of your congregation will probably love the idea of text-to-give or donating money through an app. Others might dismiss the idea completely.

Most people will fall somewhere in the middle. After seeing other people donate digitally, they will give it a try. If they like it, then they will keep using software to fund your church.

How long does it take for congregations to adopt digital giving?

It varies significantly from church to church.

You can, however, help congregants open up to the idea by encouraging them in newsletters, emails, text messages, and after sermons. Explain the benefits that they get from digital giving. A lot of people will find those benefits appealing.

Some people will never try giving to your church digitally. That’s okay as long you grow your overall donation base and bring in more money.

5. Young, Tech-Savvy Church Members Don’t Have Much Money to Donate

A study from the Federal Reserve shows that Millennials typically have less wealth than their parents. Poor economic performance, high college tuition, and other factors make it difficult for Millennials and younger people to do things like buy homes and start families.

A lot of non-profit organizations assume, therefore, that young, tech-savvy people don’t have much money for donations.

When you assume that young people who are likely to use digital giving don’t have even money, it makes sense to target older people who prefer using cash.

Fortunately, Millennials belong to a philanthropic generation that enjoys giving money to worthy causes. They don’t own as much wealth as their parents, but they give a high percentage of their salaries to the causes they believe in.

Young Donors Are the Future of Churches

Even if young people can’t afford to donate as much money as their elders, churches still need to address Millennials. Eventually, young people will make more money, which means they will have more to donate.

Using digital donation software today helps young people develop the habit of giving. If your church shuts them out today, then they will find a congregation that welcomes them.

Instead, embrace the future by understanding that the donors you create today will continue to help your church in the coming years. Without the ongoing support of today’s young people, your church won’t have anyone donating money to it in the future.

6. Individuals Don’t Give Enough to Justify Digital Giving Apps

A survey by America Magazine finds that 25% of respondents donate $50 or more to their local parishes per week. Over a year, those respondents give their churches at least $2600.

An additional 23% say that they donate $21 to $30 per week, which comes to at least $1092 per year.

Only 14% of congregants say that they donate $5 or less per week.

The cheapest NewFire Giving plan that includes giving software costs $147 per month. Even if your donations stayed the same after adopting digital giving, it only takes one of your $50+ donors to pay for your software.

It’s more likely that investing in digital giving software will expand your donation base.

How many people donating $5 or less per week simply don’t have enough cash to pay more? Perhaps they want to give you $20, but they don’t have enough cash on hand. Digital donations would make it easy for them to increase their giving.

You can also use digital giving apps to remind members of your congregation to donate money. Members can even set up reoccurring donations. You get money from them whether or not they come to service this week.

As you can see, some individuals give more money than you think. A lot of churches rely on donations from individuals. You don’t have to get a huge amount of money from a business or business leader. The weekly money from your congregants adds up quickly.

The amount will add up even faster when you give people more ways to donate money.

7. Your Biggest Donors Want to Use Checks

Undoubtedly, some of your biggest donors will want to give you checks. Checks make it convenient for them to track their donations. Checks also make it possible for them to donate large sums without carrying a lot of money with them.

You can’t use this as an argument against adopting digital giving, though.

Churches Need Multiple Donation Streams

Would you tell your church members that they cannot donate cash because you prefer large checks? Of course not!

When it comes to cash and check donations, all churches understand that they need multiple streams of giving. You don’t deny one resource just because another option provides more money. You take as much as possible so you can keep your church funded and support your community.

Multiple donation streams have become more important than ever.

In 2018, 35% of the American population didn’t identify with any religion. Just 5 years before that, only 30% of Americans said that they didn’t identify with a specific religion.

The trend looks even scarier among young people. More than 40% of Americans between 18 and 44 identify as “nones,” which means that “no religion” has become the most popular religion.

Many of those young people will find their faith as they get older. Still, churches need to prepare for a future with fewer believers. As the religious population shrinks, churches will need as many donation streams as possible.

Digital donating gives you one more tool to reach your church’s financial goal.

Final Thoughts on Digital Donations

NewFire Giving creates new donation opportunities for your church. Request a free consultation from NewFire Giving to learn more about how digital giving options can benefit your church.

You may discover a new donation source that helps your church thrive.

The Parable of the Sower: How to Preach It and Use it as a Model for Church Growth

By | Resources

Of all the parables that Jesus told, there is none that He explained extensively than the Parable of the Sower. Could it be that this parable teaches us something so foundational about God’s kingdom that He personally rounded up His disciples to explain it to them in simple terms? Here, we carefully pore over what Jesus said and its implication on church growth.

The Tale of the Types of Soil and the Seeds

And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable… Luke 8:4

Having done so many miracles at this point, people were coming to Jesus by the hordes. And with multitudes surrounding Him, He began to teach this parable, which involves a man sowing seeds in four different kinds of soil.

Seeds on the Wayside

The seeds on the wayside remained out in the open, vulnerable to the birds who were out to devour it. Jesus likens this type of ground to people who hear the word of God but because of the lack of understanding, the word remained superficial. And Satan easily snatched it away from them.

Seeds on Stony Ground

The seeds that fell on stony ground are those who hear the word joyfully at first. But having no root, the enthusiasm dies down and when faced with the challenges of following Jesus, they can’t take the heat.

These are the people who seem to follow Christ with eagerness and fervor. They seem to grow at such an explosive rate, they talk about their faith with so much zeal and passion. But when the rubber meets the road, the euphoria wore off, they’ll bail out and throw in the towel just as earnestly as they came in.

Seeds Among the Thorns

Those that fell among the thorns became choked with so many distractions: cares of this world, riches, and pleasures in life. The thing with thorns is that they don’t grow overnight and choke the seeds out of the blue. No, thorns grow slowly over time when the ground is not cultivated and cared for.

And so it is with life. Career, family problems, and health issues are legitimate concerns. But if we don’t watch it, they could steal most of our focus that they choke out our faith.

Seeds on Good Ground

And then there are seeds that fell on good ground. These are the people who received the word, took the time to understand and nourish it. In due time, they began to produce an exponential harvest.

These are game-changers and mission-driven people with whom the word of God is firmly entrenched. They are the blessed men and women that the psalmist talks about in Psalm 1:

his delight is in the law of the Lord,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

He shall be like a tree

Planted by the rivers of water,

That brings forth its fruit in its season,

Whose leaf also shall not wither;

And whatever he does shall prosper.Psalm 1:2-3

Sower, Take Heart

Jesus shared this parable to the multitude at the height of His ministry. His popularity became widespread and people from different backgrounds were following Him around. He knew that the multitude was following Him for a variety of reasons.

He knew the heart of men and yet, He never stopped teaching the multitude. He scattered seeds wherever He can even with the understanding that only a few will ever nourish His words in their hearts. And this is a vital lesson for sowers to understand.

Sowers have two jobs only: receive the seeds from the Master and sow wherever he can. That’s it. Everything else is out of your scope. And the moment the church understands this, the more room we give the Holy Spirit to do His job: cause the growth.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 1 Corinthians 3: 6-9

As a Christian, it is never our job to worry about how the person we are sharing the Gospel is going to take it. Nor is it our job to change people’s hearts. That’s too big of a task for sowers and it should not take our effort away from the job we are called to do. Sow the seeds. There are plenty of seeds to go by. Cover as much ground as you can.

This is not the most comforting message to people who like to take charge. And yet, that is the message of the Holy Spirit to the church: sow the seeds and then sit back, relax and watch Him make it grow. The proud man will take issue with this. But the one who is truly dependent on God gains assurance from this.

Even Jesus knew that not all who listened to Him will abide in Him. And yet, He still went about teaching and healing people who came to Him. He never turned anyone away. And as Christ’s follower, we are called to do the same.

Out of the 25%, Multitudes

If you read the parable closely, you would probably think to yourself that this is such a waste of seeds. Think about it. Out of the lot, only 25% of the seeds makes it to the good ground and bore fruit. That’s such a lame return for all that effort, don’t you think?

But then, the parable did not end with such a grim projection, does it? Because the 25% did produce a harvest—some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Even the most conservative projection—thirty fold—gives a hefty return for the seeds that the sower started.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58

This is the perfect illustration of what it means to have the Holy Spirit at the helm of the church’s growth. At first, you may be sowing the seeds and have nothing to show for it.

You share the Gospel with people and they don’t even respond to it. You invite people to church or your small group and they don’t show up. You watch people become so focused on something else, you no longer see them in church.

This can be very disheartening. But the story does not end this way. The story ends with a harvest.

Shout Out to All Sowers

Whether you are a pastor, a church leader, or a newly baptized Christian, the parable has implications in your life. The Parable of the Sower is a parable about the mysteries of the kingdom.

Want to see how God works in His kingdom? Be part of the action. Receive seeds from the Master, go out there in the field (church, workplace, household) and sow. Don’t stay in the bleachers. The field is where the harvest’s at.

And as you put in the time, effort, and money into the sowing, this parable won’t remain a parable. The seeds you sow into the field will produce a harvest that will first manifest in your heart. After all, you’re dealing with the word of God. And it's living and active.

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