Church Planting in a Struggling Economy

The down-turning economy is impacting local churches and church planting. Here are a few other examples:

  • One church planter spoke about his funding coming to an end in a few months and the pressure to find ways to bring in ‘new tithers’ to help make ends meet. If this does not happen he will have to find a part-time job. Lately, we have received more requests to the Tentmaker Group for people who are struggling to make ends meet and seek additional streams of income.
  • Existing church offerings are down. Many of the leaders I have spoken to say this has been about 20% lower since earlier giving. This may limit their ability to fund new church plants.
  • Numerous people have been laid-off that were once church staff.
  • Attendance at Church Planting conferences are down sharply, which may be a sign of the inability to afford the cost to attend or in a decrease the number of plants.
  • How does this new economic reality change the way churches are planted? Are church planters moving to more organic & decentralized models? Will there be more bi-vocational church planters? Will more church doors close, consolidating Christians into larger churches?

    • Frank!

      November 10, 2008, 5:57 pm

      As a free resource to anyone who would like to participate, I started a page called
      I have it open to people who believe that God is doing among young people. You can come and share ideas and connect with people. I especially hope that church planters with good ideas for these troubled times can come on and help rally the troops.

    • Phil

      November 11, 2008, 8:18 am

      I was about to rant about that post. Especially the church that was looking for ‘new tithers’… but then I figure what’s the point?

      Instead I’ll say that I think churches being hit by a funding crisis could be wonderful news. Instead of ploughing our money into buildings we can start meeting at people’s houses. Share meals together and invite those people that can’t always afford to feed themselves or are seriously struggling. Those that are facing homelessness may find shelter with their brothers and sisters in the church. We can show a real practical love for each other, serve one another and help in our communities those that are finding life really tough.

      OK we too may be finding things hard going, but then we’re storing our treasure in heaven… aren’t we?

    • Aaron Snow

      November 11, 2008, 10:39 am

      I totally agree with Phil. I think this “financial crisis” (though I see very little change in spending habits, and standard of living-even among Christians) may be the BEST thing that has ever happened to the church in the West. Maybe it will force us out of our offices, meetings, buildings, and conferences and into the lost worlds that surround us. I mean, how many conferences do we need before we just go DO THE STUFF? How many meetings with OTHER Christians must we have before we’re eating dinner with our lost neighbor? I’m excited to see where things go. I pray that in ten years the statistics of what most of the financial resources of the church in America goes to will change from staff salaries & infrastructure to the widows, orphans, the poor, and the needy. Great Post.

    • Daniel

      November 13, 2008, 11:08 am

      Amen to Phil and Aaron. Perhaps now people will begin to wake up in larger numbers to the fact that we do not need all the expensive, cumbersome structures in order to be who we already are, people who are free from their old dead selves, and empowered by the Spirit to touch the world. Let’s cut the institutional ropes tying us down, and let the People of God our into the lost world around us….

    • Dennis Miller

      November 14, 2008, 12:45 pm

      Appreciate all that you say here. I was at something called Church 2.0 forum the other day…great innovative ideas from church leaders and church planters. Everyone was 30 years younger than me. Check out Greg Atkinson who facilitated the gathering

    • Rick Merkle

      November 15, 2008, 1:22 pm

      How far down do you think the U.S. economy and please-me lifestyle will have to fall before those at the top of institutional church feeding chains will realize that Jesus’ people are called to him, grow and spread without edifices or hierarchichal structures? Even if the so-called leaders don’t get it, I hope Joe and Jane Pewsitter get it! May the idols of this land be shown to be the shallow weaklings they are so people (especially believers) will seek the only One who is our life. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

    • phill Longmire

      November 17, 2008, 6:53 pm

      I hear what everyone is saying…and agree to some extent…

      However this does not change the fact that ministry takes money…we dont feed the poor on good intentions…we don’t help the widow from a good heart…

      We dont plant a church on a dream…it takes resource to move and do increadable things in the kingdom…

      I think the real issue is that pastors have no clue how to raise money…billions of dollars are given away every year and every year the church receives less and less…and every year there are more and more non-profits clamoring for that money.

      There are three things people give to…and pleas to pay the bills are not one of them

      1) vision…you better be able to show that you are changing lives

      2) The person or staff…the people believe in the person they are giving to

      3) Fiscal responsibility…they believe the money will be put to good use