How do you pay for starting a new church?
Does the denomination give you a salary?
How do you even know how much money you need?
We've been asked these sorts of questions a lot over the last month. But don't worry - We are glad to answer them! We are willing to "spill the financial beans" for two reasons:
1.) We do need to raise some funds, and I believe total transparency is best when it comes to the financial aspects of ministry.
2.) We believe strongly that there are other people (maybe YOU!) that God is calling to church planting in Canada. You have questions about the process, and we want to help.
So, what are our financial needs and goals, and where do we sit as of February 1st?
In order to make sense of the numbers I'm about to share, I need to give you a little context. The first bit of context revolves around church planting itself; the second deals with the city of Calgary.
Pastor of a church that doesn't exist.
As we mentioned in our last post, we are moving up to Calgary to begin a new church from scratch. There are no people up there waiting for us to begin a church. We have to meet people, gather those who might be interested in being part, find a place to hold services, etc. In short, there is no congregational infrastructure to pay a pastor's salary. All of that money has to come from outside sources - at least until the new church is gathered, launched and supported through locally raised tithes and offerings.
Not as expensive as New York, but still way above the national average.
The cost of living in Calgary (and all of Canada, for that matter) is more expensive than the average city in the US. While it is not as expensive as New York City, nobody will say it's cheap to live there! For example, a house in Calgary that is comparable to our (modest) home in Lakeland, FL costs more than double! Gasoline, groceries, and utilities all cost more than what we are used to. On average, studies show that it is about 50% more expensive to live in Calgary than a typical US city.
So how do we plan to survive?!
Budgeting for a church plant is a little different than typical household planning. Rather than starting with income and then deciding what you will be able to spend, we have to start by figuring out the absolute bare minimum we need to survive, and work backwards from there to arrive at a salary.
So, when factoring in rent, utilities, transportation, food, clothing, taxes, etc, we believe the minimum amount of money we need to raise is $5,000 per month ($60,000 per year). If that sounds like a lot of money, please remember that we are living in an expensive city, AND we will also have to pay for church related expenses (facility rental, equipment, etc) out of that money - at least at first. And although this is the minimum, we hope to be able to raise even more money than that. Once we do, we will be able to think about things like church staffing, outreach events and more.
When we move to Calgary, Amber and I will have no debt (with the exception of her car loan). Any money we raise will go directly towards cost of living and building a gospel-centered, community-focused church. We are humbled to have been blessed over the last 5 or 6 years to live essentially debt free (again with the exception of one car), and it will enable us to utilize the resources you give for kingdom work.
We get by with a little help from our friends.
The North American Mission Board (the church planting organization we are working with) will pay us a salary of $3,000 a month ($36,000/year) for the first year. After year one, NAMB ceases all funding to us. However, the Canadian National Baptist Convention steps in and provides $2,000 per month for a period of 2 years. So, yeah, denominational support drops by 1/3 after the first year. Ouch.
To make up for the difference between what the denomination provides and our minimum financial threshold, we are looking for partnerships between us and generous churches and individuals. We are asking any church we can find to consider partnering with us on a monthly basis for a period of about 4 years. (Of course we welcome partnerships for more or less time!) We want these partnerships to be more than financial however; providing mutual prayer, encouragement, and friendship between us and sending congregations. We believe church planting should be an active part of any church's mission strategy, and because new church plants typically become fully self-sufficient within a few years of launching, this sort of partnership provides an excellent mid-range mission project for established churches. Another benefit is that the effects of a partnership are clearly visible and measurable to contributing congregations; you can see the progress we are able to make as a result of your gifts! Our goal is to have a minimum of 8 supporting congregations by the time we move north. (We already have 3!)
We will also ask our friends and family to consider donating to help us reach our financial goal. If many people give just a little bit, we will be there in no time! Gifts can be made as either one-time or recurring donations via check, debit or credit at www.FollowUsNorth.com/financial-partners.
Just the numbers please!
$5,000 - Our minimum monthly financial goal
$3,550 - Current monthly commitments from NAMB, churches & individuals
$1,450 - Left to raise to reach our minimum monthly cost of living goal
ONE FINAL QUESTION: Why don't you just take a second job in Canada, Daniel? If you were bi-vocational you wouldn't need to raise as much money.
This is certainly true! However, I will be entering Canada on a "Clergy Visa." One of the stipulations for being granted this visa is a prohibition on working in any job beyond my role as church planter. Unfortunately, I will not be able to legally work any outside jobs until I establish permanent residency, a process that can take a year or more. Amber will have an open work visa, but there are no guarantees that she will get a job right away. And if she decides to build a massage practice in Alberta, that will take time. So, while we may be able to earn outside income down the road, at least initially, that isn't much of an option.
I hope this helps you understand the financial side of church planting. I also pray you will consider partnering with us to fulfill our vision of moving to Calgary and planting a network of churches that transform neighbors and nations through the gospel of Jesus Christ!