The Math Doesn’t Add Up
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish. - Luke 14:28-30
WE ARE EXPERIENCING A REVIVAL OF INTEREST in planting new churches that are biblical, gospel-centered, healthy, growing and reproducing. In order to reach millions of people (est. 15,000,000 in New England alone), we need to plant thousands of new churches. However, the majority of church plants fail because they run out of startup money and never reach a point of sustainability. For instance, consider the following example of expenses a church planter will most likely encounter.
Rent a school or building $1,200/wk $62,400/yr
Part-time worship leader $300/wk $15,600/yr
Part-time children’s ministry $200/wk $10,400/yr
Marketing $175/wk $9,100/yr
Misc. expenses $250/wk $13,000/yr
Totals $2,125/wk $110,400/yr
Of course, you can play with the numbers and some may be able to do it with less money, but however you do it, the math doesn’t add up. And we haven’t included salaries, benefits or other expenses for the pastor(s) of roughly $60,000-$75,000. Now you’re looking at an annual budget of $180,000—$200,000. And we haven’t even included the start-up costs of $10,000-$15,000 on average. No wonder many church plants fail in the first several years.
Is there another way?
As we begin to dream about planting churches in the Central Connecticut River Valley, we are not going to get the job done by having good intentions or praying hundreds of ‘Hail Marys.’ Besides, it would take too long and cost too much. The key is to go bi-vocational. Church planting with bi-vocational pastors has been very effective in many nations and cultures throughout church history. I am convinced that in order to make the math work in New England, we must recruit and train ‘catalytic’ leaders who already live on our mission field, already have gainful employment, and who are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to plant a church. Locally identified, locally church trained bi-vocational pastors or lay people provide the best opportunity to make the math work.