small church. big gospel. enough grace to go around.
category: worship

Backstory:  When we started Humble Walk, I was a student at Luther Seminary (score 1 for laity!). Lest anyone accuse us of following a business model of ministry, I can tell you with confidence that we had no plan.  (And not too many of you have EVER made that accusation). We were an unplanned birth. Perhaps the Holy Spirit had something to do with it, but unplanned birth just-the-same. We met every Sunday for six months before putting a hoped-for budget together.

When you have a volunteer pastor and zero assets, the budget is pretty low. A box of wine, homemade bread and a little rent money…that’s about what it takes. But, then I graduated and the synod called me to do this work…and my student loans started rolling in. Durn those loans. We pieced together a scrappy little budget that would hopefully come to fruition through partner congregations, synod grants and offerings. It more or less worked. Some months better than others.

Now, as a congregation under development, we get some funding from our national church body in Chicago and our local synod.  Our worshipers are wonderfully generous–and we have been graced with surprise gifts from area congregations who believe in what we are doing.

So, you are thinking of starting a church, are you? Here are five things you might want to know regarding money.

1. There is enough. Enough to go around. Enough to fund ministry. Enough to share. (We might work on distribution, however…)

2. Clergy…don’t quit your day job. Seriously. Whatever skills you have for making a living outside of the church are huge assets. (I have none. Other than a decade of youth ministry…oh wait…) Think of the freedom to do wild, spirit-led mission without the burden of needing an institutional church to pay you a salary. Think of the risks you could take.

3. Look around you. There are people in your life who are ridiculously gifted. I am not telling you to use them for your church-starting agenda. That feels slimy. However, people want to be a part of something meaningful…and want to contribute. Let them. Invite them. You often have to give up control, but I’m pretty sure we are supposed to do that anyway.

4. Owning stuff is way over-rated. Beg, borrow or steal. I will be the first to admit that this approach gets annoying. You are always setting up camp or tearing it down. What you do own eventually gets broken in the process. But traveling lightly has ALL sorts of benefits. Think of the hours you won’t have to spend managing physical assets.

5. Do your own vacuuming. Wash your own dishes. Set up your own chairs. Take out your own garbage. Don’t be wussy and hire this out–invite your folks to set up camp with you. If you and a staff provide everything–what in the heck is the gathered body for? (Insert childhood Sunday School song: We are the Church).

Bonus tip: you don’t need to rent or pay for an office. If you do, you will spend most of your time there. Lame. There is a whole world out there for you to be a part of…to observe…to conspire with…and that world provides wifi and coffee and beer. I would, however, budget for the coffee and beer that you will consume in your mobile office. Probably a scone or two, as well. Throw in some nacho money for good measure.

Ready? Set? Go.


May 3rd, 2011

As pastor of a new church I can back up what you say. With no one whatsoever backing us, we have made it fine with God’s help. If more people would step out and start churches this way, our nation could be reached once again for Jesus. Thanks for the good read!
Terry Reed
Small Church Tools

April 4th, 2013

A very good read… couldn’t have said it better, myself. My church started in 2008, and still has next to nothing for “owned stuff”, except for some bibles, a set of stoles, and a portable communion set… and we get by just fine. We’re getting by so cheaply, that our biggest cost is annual server fees for our website… so we’re high tech, yet living cheaply. If more churches started this way, we’d have a better level of “humble” in our start-ups, and more commitment to God, as it should be. Keep up to great writing.

Rev. Rick Johnson

December 2nd, 2013

Thanks for the info , we are in the process of starting a church, we have seven people that are 100% behind us , I know God is going to do great things with us . All we want to do is worship God.. Please pray for us ! we are staring with nothing but our Bibles and ourselves and our faith in the Lord.

December 29th, 2013

am a young man, a pastor’s son living alone in a different country, i have this deep conviction within me to start up a church for about 4 years now and the conviction is still as strong as ever. i feel am too young, too broke and scared. but i know how to preach and pray. please can i get advice on how to go about things should i decide to start. am presently in the university and have read lots of books in different areas in theology.


February 15th, 2014

Thanks for the information ,i want starting a church, we have 5 people that are 100% behind us , I know God is going to do great things with us . All we want to do is worship God.. Please pray for us ! we are staring with nothing but our Bibles and ourselves and our faith in the Lord.



February 28th, 2014

Help me to get started. Thank you


March 16th, 2014

Great article! Thanks for being genuine, entertaining, and informative. Now I wistfully think of future board meetings discussing the beer budget. ;)

Gaylord Ndlovu

April 11th, 2014

The formula makes it amply clear that we are stewards of a different Kingdom; with every resource to represent with Excellence. It is good that we share one anothers burdens.

We starting off as well; with His Word, His Promises & His Power. I pray that the fullness of His Wisdom will surround you always, to prosper all that you do in His Name. Not convinced that He’d join in for a beer though…

In His Purpose, for His Glory!

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