Writing a Church-Planting Prospectus
This post originally appeared on the SEND Network blog. You can read the post here.
Few things keep a church planter up at night more than finances. The dizzying array of “but what about” questions fills our minds: But what about my family? Will we be able to make it? What about the church? Will it survive? We’ve prayed, trusted God, stepped out in faith and now the pressures begin to mount. If we are not careful, these questions can cripple us and arrest good, God-honoring ministry.
This is why it is vital that a church planter work to develop a clear, compelling plan long before he sets out on the church planting journey. Planning is not antithetical to hard work—the two actually go hand in hand. We trust God AND we develop a plan.
The outworking of this plan is often seen in the church planting prospectus. This document details the mission that the church planter and his team plan to undertake. Without question this plan will change. In fact, it will probably change significantly.
This reality should not undermine the hard work of developing a strategy, however. A well-developed prospectus should communicate to others that you care enough about what you are doing to spend the time developing a thoughtful plan for your ministry. It will be useful in team recruitment, fund raising and in all sorts of vision casting meetings so you should spend the time to make it excellent. Here are a few marks of a solid church planting prospectus:
A church planting prospectus is not the time to by cryptic. People want to see the facts, clearly communicated, in a way that they can understand. You should work to provide the salient details describing who you are, where you are going, why you are going there and what you plan to do when you arrive. Try to avoid insider jargon or trivial information and instead focus on the important facts that people would want to know.
Most people have very short attention spans and want to see the facts presented as concisely as possible. For this reason, we developed three tools that we used when we planted Renewal Church in Greenville in the spring of 2010:
• a single-page, front and back document outlining the details of the project and the ways that people could be involved
• a spiral bound booklet that provided more information, including a detailed Statement of Beliefs, a full biography of the church planting team and a detailed time-line of our action steps
• a web site with the information from these two documents presented utilizing more visual media
We felt like these three documents would allow us to clearly present the vision to diverse audiences—from friends and family who would probably support us if we were starting an elephant farm, to pastors, elders and deacon teams who would have more questions and need more finely nuanced information.
People invest in compelling vision. This reality means that your church planting prospectus must include more than sterile facts. Try to use pictures to tell stories about the work that you are trusting God for. Use charts and graphs to communicate vision and needs. Capturing people’s attention in an image-driven world will take work but it will cause your prospectus to stick in the minds of those who are exposed to your work.
A church planting prospectus is a prime opportunity to invite people to be involved in your work. This takes courage. It is far easier to tell someone what you are going to do than to ask them to help make it happen. To not do so, however, squanders a God-given means of providing for your needs and the needs of your church. Make sure that your prospectus clearly communicates the prayer, financial and manpower needs that your church will have. Show people how they can be involved and trust God to prompt their hearts to invest in your vision.
No need to recreate the wheel. Take ideas from others that you like, personalize them to your context, and communicate your vision with excellence.
The North American Mission Board is here to serve you if you have any questions about this process or need advise about your work. We’d love to walk alongside of you as you work through these important practical decisions that God uses to bring your church planting vision to life.
For an example of the single-page vision document or full prospectus, email firstname.lastname@example.org.