Ed Stetzer, the Chief Researcher and Missiologist at Lifeway Publishers, did a study a couple of years ago on the state of church planting.  He referenced some of the reports from that study in a recent blog post.  I’ll talk about two topics:  the cost of planting a new church and improving the health of a church plant.

The big factors tend to be monetary, volunteers, and intangibles.

The average church plant budget is $246,346 in startup funding.  They are expected to raise a third to one half of that independent of the sponsoring organization(s), which contribute an average of $172,200.  Some will start on less, and some will consume 4 times that – up to $1M.

Stetzer notes that successful church pastors raise a lot of their support from outside sources.  Struggling churches don’t.

A large part of the cost is salary.  A successful church has two full-time staffers, the pastor and one other, usually worship pastor.

In terms of volunteers, 88% of fast-growing congregations have a leadership team. (Only 12% of struggling churches are supported by a team, suggesting that 88% of struggling churches are led by a single pastor who is trying to do it alone.)  While this may not incur a direct financial cost, it does impose costs on the pastor.  The most obvious is the time it takes to wait for the volunteers to understand the vision.  You could probably do it better yourself, but letting the team do it extends the results and keeps the planter from burning out.

I hope you are also spending resources to train volunteers.  If the pastor/planter is the only one with understanding, it will cripple development.  But a well-trained team can be leveraged to do more than what the planter could ever accomplish alone.

And there are facility costs.  Rent or mortgage, lights, heating and cooling, restrooms and trash.

Know also that marketing and advertising will cost.  Best estimates suggest 10% should be spent.  Also be generous with refreshments.  If you nickel and dime the parishioners who also give a tithe, it negates the message that “God will provide.”  If God is providing, then why would you operate as if you can’t afford donuts and coffee?