So there’s a on-fire guy who has been a regular church attendee for years. He preaches amazing sermons, and some of the most amazing shows of the Holy Spirit are seen when he preaches.
After ten years of faithful participation in majority of the ministries of the church, in leadership capacity on many church committees, and in his community, he decides he wants to start a ministry, but where does he start?
Is it enough that he knows how to preach, he knows how to pray, he commands a crowd’s attention, and he’s a great team player in ministry functions?
It’s not enough.
That’s what many ministry leaders find out and why many ministries fail.
Too many churches underestimate their role in the creation of a church. They may have good intention, you can observe good spiritual fruit, and you can see skill, however, there needs to be a strategic church business plan.
Whether online or offline, it’s the founder’s responsibility to be tactical AND strategic. Let me explain…
In my previous post Top 10 Reasons Why Ministries Fail, I talked about tactics versus strategy. Preaching, teaching, fasting, praying, counseling, exhortation, and all of these things are necessary functions that need to be carried out.
When the ministry leader or pastor is the founder, they also must market, sell (to get donors), recruit (to get volunteers and employees), manage cashflow, and create strategic goals to scale the organization to effectively reach more people. Often times, church planters are blindsighted by the additional responsibilities they have to carry out to make a church organization work.
When the organizational is functional and orderly, it can enable many people to be moved to Christ, but when the organization is dysfunctional from an entrepreneurial standpoint, it’s not able to start and scale into an enterprise.
Previously, I also talked about faith versus optimism. There are doctrinal issues that lead many people into ministry chaos. They believe in faith, but miss the deeds.
They see biblical examples like Moses who was given the exact dimensions for the size and shape of the church with all of its intricacies, so they believe they should wait to receive the same direction. However, there are many other examples in the Bible of people who initiated endeavors without receiving the exact details like Moses did. In fact, if you look at the New Testament churches, you’ll find not one of them who were given specific dimensions, curtain color, and so on.
God has given us power to strategize and make decisions that please Him.
Starting a ministry and scaling it takes faith and deeds. One mission-essential component that enabled each of the world’s richest pastors (and largest ministries) to reach more than half of the world’s population is intention and commitment.
Many of them have vision statements that clearly say a big goal. For example, Pastor E.A. Adeboye said his ministry goal is to plant a church within 5 miles of each person on Earth. So far he’s planted 196 churches, and his big goal paired with massive action is giving him massive results.
Similarly, we need to have faith and deeds (as James told us). Belief that the Holy Spirit is with us and empowers us coupled with the belief that we were created with the ability to strategize, build, and scale an enterprise that pleases Him.
The church is a multidimensional mission: it takes place on Earth to satisfy Heaven. We are Kingdom Ambassadors, right?
Your church business plan is your roadmap for how you will build these systems, and if you effectively build once, you can hand the roadmap over, and enable others to plant effective ministries as you have!
The normal components of a business plan are: the Executive Summary, the Marketing Strategy, the SWOT Analysis, the Management Team (or Ministry Leadership Team), the steps for Operation, and the Financials.
The business plan enables you to build the necessary systems you need to have in place in your ministry, but often times, it leaves us exempt from understanding exactly what we’re building.
The New Testament literal translation of church means “set apart people”. The Business plan is not involved with the direct relationship of set apart people and God. Instead, the business plan is involved with guiding the creation of a separate money making machine that enables the set apart people to fulfill their mission of sharing God’s love all over the world.
According to Michael Gerber, the definition of business is “an entity that operates separate from the entrepreneur who invented it”. This is where the church and the people of the church are two completely different things and why a business plan is necessary–not because the Bible isn’t a sufficient guide to regulate the people, but because we are inventing a machine (business) separate from the people that enables the people to do the work of God.
Thru systems outlined in the business plan, a money-making machine is created that can stand separate from it’s founders and separate from it’s congregants. The machine is submitted to the Bible and training manuals (a business plan) that provide direction for how each system works in an explainable enough way that the model can be duplicated. In essence, your business plan is a document that enables you to plant entities (or disciple people to plant entities) that expand your ability to disciple dramatically.
Now, let’s talk about the steps to complete the church business plan…
Wouldn’t you be astonished to see a blind baseball pitcher? You’d have to wonder how can they throw the ball where it’s supposed to go without being able to see, right?
It’s just as intriguing to see a ministry founder or entrepreneur who tries to lead an organization without really factoring where they’re trying to go. They dwell on day-to-day tasks because it’s within their scope of view, but they can’t transcend to transform.
Start by writing your vision, mission and purpose statements, so you’ll be able to translate to others (vendors, donors, clients, congregants, followers, and everyone else) what you need them for and where you’re trying to go. This is paramount!
Find out the pain points in the area you plan to serve. If you’re serving offline, do online market research and offline research. With more than 4 billion daily users, or 4/7 of the world’s population using the search engines, it’s very likely, that the search engines will provide you with very relevant data about your community that would pair well with your offline methods. If you’re serving mostly online (like as a blogger, podcaster, or other online ministry), then MAKE SURE to do research in the search engines.
For market research, I use a tool called Jaaxy (affiliate link–by clicking thru to make a purchase, KOHA can be compensated). Jaaxy enables me to see what people are searching in the search engines. For example, let’s say, I’m considering hosting fitness events in San Antonio, Texas (where I live) to add a recurring streams of revenue to my ministry, I’d want to find out how many people are searching for a similar service in the area prior to coordinating all of the details. Let me show you how that would go…
First, I’d go to Jaaxy and enter a guess of what people might search like “Fitness classes in San Antonio”, then I’d see what results populate. Here’s the results…
Jaaxy will return the results of the keyword I originally input along with other similar keywords search engine users have typed in. There are quite a few people searching for fitness classes in my area! Let me break down the results of each column…
Avg – This tells about how many people are searching for this term in the search engines every month
Traffic – Tells me that if I were to rank in the search engines for that keyword, approximately how many people would visit my website every month
QSR – How many other people are competing for the keyword. (If it’s less than 100, then it’s generally pretty easy for a knowledgeable Internet Marketer to rank)
KQI – Jaaxy’s telling you whether they recommend you target the keyword or not
I’d create a list on Jaaxy of keywords related to the event I’m planning to host and I’d save the list for my added marketing campaigns (potentially paid marketing and content marketing) later.
I’d interact with people in community centers, grocery stores, in the neighborhood where I’m planting, and everywhere I could to find out if the event I’m offering is solving a relevant pain point in the market, who the competitors are, and how I can use my resources to solve the problems I’ve observed.
Based on the skills of the founders and the founding members, there are certain strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats you may have. You want to take time to analyze the advantages and disadvantages you have in the market.
For example, an online ministry could say:
Strength: Excellent at lead generation, can generate millions of viewers monthly and impact lots of people
Weakness: Not good at offline interaction
Opportunities: Can teach other ministries lead generation especially in niche markets
Threats: Older churchgoers may not be as accessible and other competition exists
An offline ministry would perform their SWOT analysis similarly, but rather than considering a global competition, they’d analyze their local competition alongside global competitors that may sweep congregants from the pews.
After you’ve laid the groundwork with your vision, mission, and purpose statements, done your market research, and performed the SWOT analysis, you should have a clear perspective about your market. From here, you want to create ministry goals that answer, “How are we going to get from where we are to where our vision statement says we’re going?”.
The same systems required to run a business are the same orderly systems required to run a ministry. The seven systems that enable a business to scale into an enterprise are the same systems that enable a ministry to scale from one to thousands: lead generation system, lead conversion system, branding system, leadership system, client fulfillment system, leadership system, management system, and job prototypes..
As the founder, you’re the inventor of all of the systems in the ministry and once their in motion, you can delegate them out. Most entrepreneurs and ministers know the beginnings of creating a branding system. They know the logo, they may get a letterhead, and a few other aesthetic branding things.
Things like how the choir looks, how the website is designed, or how the flyers look will make an impact on the perception of those who may potentially support the ministry therefore, you want to create them with care. You also want to pay attention to the hospitality: how people are received, whether they are welcomed, and how your ministry makes them feel.
The look and the feel compose the brand and reputation of the ministry. After the branding system, you want to create the lead generation system, client fulfillment, and lead conversion systems.
Examples: Newspaper advertising, Facebook advertising, Search engine marketing, door-to-door, live networking events, etc.
Examples: Donor Management Systems, customer relations management software, etc.
Examples: Preaching, Family enrichment Live events, paid audio downloads, books, etc.
If this topic is new to you, I know it can be alot to digest. I created this playlist to help, and I think it will be especially useful for auditory and kinesthetic learners:
The goal of this article was to show how to create a church business plan that serves as a roadmap to start from scratch and scale an enterprise. It’s important for leaders to create a strategic church business plan. If you have questions or concerns about this, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section. I’d love to help you out!
If you’re ready to start your church business plan, I’d recommend you try out one of these two free business plan templates:
Score Business Template
Gazelles Growth Institute One-Page Strategic Plan
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Have you created a church business plan for your ministry? Why or why not? What additional things would you add for someone asking “How or Why to do a church business plan?”. Leave your comments, questions, and feedback below.
Hi! I'm Tiffany. I'm a mom, wife, Internet Marketing Consultant, and the founder of KOHA. My passion is to share everything I know about applying the Bible to daily life, starting a ministry, and scaling a ministry online.
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