Although start-up costs for RCA church plants vary, most new congregations can build a balanced budget from year one.
On average, plants need $200,000 (more than $66,000 annually) in outside support over their first three years. That might seem like a lot of money, but there are a number of different ways plants can get support over the first three years:
- A parent church can typically commit to $50,000 (about $16,500 annually).
- The classis and regional synod can together provide $40,000 to $80,000 (about $13,300 to $26,700 annually).
- Micro-grants are available for up to a total of $20,550 from the RCA.
- Donations from other churches or individual donors over the first three years can often add up to $25,000 (about $8,300 annually) or more. Click here for fundraising ideas.
Ideally, the plant will finance a greater portion of its own expenses each year. Bivocational planters may create a four to five year plan to become self-supporting. Full-time planters should seek to replace external funds with internal funds by the start of the plant’s fourth year. To generate $150,000 in annual income internally, you will need the support of about 100 working adults who are committed to your church.
In addition, in its New Congregation Plan, each church plant commits to giving 10 percent of its offerings to a supporting planting agency (the parent church, the classis planting fund, or an RCA mission share for planting). This may seem counterintuitive since the plant is receiving so much outside help, but there are long-range benefits:
- The new congregation learns to trust God and to give back from the beginning. It’s better to learn that principle early, beginning with small offerings.
- The new congregation shows gratefulness and a relational connection to supporting RCA partners.
- The gifts fuel more planting and gain favor with other existing churches, countering the criticism that new plants suck up resources rather than giving back. Instead, the new plant serves as an example of maturity in missional thinking and action.
- The new congregation will be in a good position to organize as an RCA church. Assessments for membership actually require a lower level of giving than this practice encourages.