Archive for the ‘Money’ Category

Offering Talks

Before we receive the offering, we always explain it and do a short offering talk.  Here’s some of the statements we use to encourage people to give.

1.    If God wants your money, he’ll take it.
2.    I don’t need your money, but you need to give it.
3.    You haven’t really worshipped until you’ve given.
4.    It’s not really giving unless you miss it.
5.    We are not owners, we’re managers.
6.    Tithing is trusting.
7.    Where we allocate money is a representation of what is really important to us.
8.    You’ve been blessed because somebody else gave.

From time to time, we also let people know where the money goes, either through a video or a story or a chart on the screen.


Church Plant Fundraising

Some of the most common questions we get on this blog are in the area of fund raising.  One such question is “how much does it cost to plant a church.”

My answer:  everything you’ve got.

If you raise $50,000 then you’ll spend every bit of it.  If you have less, it can cost less.  If you raise more, it can cost more.  There’s no set number.

I know of churches with amazing funding who blew threw it and never made it.  And I know churches that launched on shoestring budgets that are doing well.

Just so you know, between January 1, 2006 and August 20, 2006 (our grand opening), we spent about $55,000 on everything.  That included equipment, marketing, outreach and salaries.  Our first mailout went to 5,000 homes because that’s how much money we had.  If we got something on Sunday, we spent it on Monday.

I write about fundraising in my upcoming book, and I’m sure we’ll hit on it in an upcoming coaching network.

How Much Money?

A lot of the questions that we get a lot from church planters (we love church planters!) are about money. What’s an early budget like? How much money did you raise?

From January 1, 2006 – when we got serious with gearing up for launch – to August 20, 2006 (our grand opening service), we spent about $50,000.

We would have spent more if we had it, but that’s all we raised. I tell people that church planting will cost everything that you have. We would have done it with less; we would have certainly spent more.

Our first direct mail was 5,000 pieces…that’s all we could afford. When we got money on Sunday, we’d but the next thing on our list. Our first budgets were, in retrospect, kind of funny, because we didn’t really know how much things cost.

How much will is cost? Everything you got.

Guide to the Giving Talk

Each week in our services, we receive an offering (you don’t ever take an offering by the way).  Before we do that, someone from our church explains what is happening.  We don’t view the offering as a tacked on element, but we try to plan and prepare it just like we do the singing or the sermon.  We want to connect the time of giving to everything else that is happening that day.

Here’s a 2-page PDF Guide to the Giving Talk that we put together to make sure that people on stage know exactly what should happen during this 2-3 minutes of our service.


Show me the money…

Church finances are a lot more then balancing the checkbook. Anyone can add up all of the expenses and see how much money is left over in the bank. At Oak Leaf Church we are just too new to have accurate starting numbers for anything other then salary, so we had to do a lot of guessing. With that said, we felt like one of the most helpful things we could do would be to creating spending procedures.

None of the following are brain-buster ideas, but they do provide a starting point if anyone is starting a business, starting a church, or trying to impress their boss.

The basic outline for the plan, was to give people a ministry budget as a guide. We knew that people would want to spend their money at the same time, so in order to have enough cash we gave them guidelines. We said that they could spend their budgets at their leisure, but it would be weighted toward strategic times of the year when they would likely want to do events to build their ministry. First of the year, Easter, right before school starts and Thanksgiving/Christmas are all key times.

The last caution was that it all might not go according to plan, so if the money doesn’t come it (we based our budget on a 12% increase) then they would have to get creative.

More later, we still have to see if it works like we hope, but for more details click here.

Anthony Gratto

Executive Pastor

Spending Procedures

We just locked down our 2008 budget and finalized some spending procedures.  The budget is a guide for spending, and we’ll live by it in 2008.  In addition to creating this budget (which was a joint effort from our staff then approved by our board of directors), we put some spending procedures in place to help manage cash flow.  Just because money is in the budget doesn’t mean it’s in the bank.  So here’s what we do.

  • Expense under $100:  staff can just buy it.  Most have church credit cards.  They need to make sure it’s a budgeted item and turn in the coded receipt.
  • $100-$500:  Staff member must get approval from their direct supervisor.
  • $500 or more:  Purchase order discussed in Lead Team meeting.

First Time Giver Letter

One of the things we do at OLC is follow up with first time givers. When someone gives to Oak Leaf Church for the first time, we send them a letter thanking them for their gift. I think it’s important to thank people that give, as well as reassure them that the church is on top of things with the finances. Here’s the letter we send out in Word format.


Business Reply Mail

Most of our weekly offering comes in when we pass around buckets at the conclusion of our service.  Most people turn in their connection cards this way as well.

But just like a few people always take their connection card to the Information Table, some people mail their tithes and offerings to our office each week.  Several months ago, we started putting envelopes with our handouts on Sunday morning.  Lots of people feel more comfortable giving cash this way.  Today, we just got in 10,000 new envelopes from Action Envelope.  We created them as business reply envelopes, so people can just drop them in a mailbox and mail them to the office without having to worry about a stamp.

It costs less than $1 to get this in the mail, and the permit and design was not that expensive.  I think it’s a sharp way to equip your people to give on a regular basis.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

What We Don’t Do Well

I think it’s best to learn from other people’s mistakes, not your own.  And while I think we do a ton of things right here at OLC, not everything is perfect.  Yes, there were 619 people that attended church last week, and we’re less than a year old.  I think our services and our kids programs are great, but we’ve still made our share of mistakes.  Here’s two big areas that are kicking our butts right now.

1.  Small Groups.  We rolled out about 10 small groups right after we launched, but we haven’t  had much success since then.  We weren’t able to keep the momentum going after we started them, and we didn’t have a workable process for starting new groups or getting new people into groups quickly.  So, we’ve been pretty much coasting here and it’s hurting us.   Strong small groups will solve a lot of problems in a church, so we’re turning up the heat here heading into the fall.

2.  Giving.  I don’t think our giving is where it should be.  I’ve got lots of reasons and thoughts, but the bottom line is that it’s hard to do ministry without money.  I’m realizing that I need to talk about it more (not using guilt but using vision).  We did a series on money a month or so ago, but I know see what Bill Hybles means when he says to hit stewardship in every series.  We’re seeing a bunch of people come to church, but it’s going to take money to move to a bigger meeting location.  So, we’re trying to tackle this problem.  Our giving is about $14 per person, and we need that to go way up in order to dominate like we want to.

Getting Giving to Go Up

We’re certainly not fundraising experts, and I confess that I sometimes get jealous of guys that get a whole bunch of money to go plant churches.  I tell our people all the time that we are able to do what we do because a bunch of regular people, with regular jobs and regular mortgages, sacrificially give.

Our giving was averaging about $14 a person a week for the first 9 months or so.  For the last month or so, things have really picked up.  Even in the summer.  In fact, this last week was our biggest offering to date.  A month ago, I challenged our people to not be average in their giving as we wrapped up a money series.  And they have really answered the call.  I am proud of our church.

I also made some strategic decisions and tweaks in regards to giving and finances, and maybe they will be of help.

  • Occasionally, before we receive the offering, we’ll show a video like this one showing people where some of the money goes.  I think people want to trust the church, but it’s sometimes pretty hard.
  • I send a letter to everybody that gives for the first time.  Our finance person gives me a report and I send these out myself.  Here’s the letter.  Download first_time_giver.pdf
  • I write a hand-written thank you note to everybody that contributes more than $500.  I’ll often include a Starbucks or iTunes gift card just to say thanks.
  • We let people know that they can see our budget if they would like. We are an open-book organization.  To date, we’ve had exactly zero people ask for it.
  • We thank people for giving.  When we throw a volunteer hoe down, for example, I tell people that we’re able to throw the event for free because everyone is so faithful to give.
  • By far, the factor that I think contributes most to the uptick in giving, is that God is at work and there is a sense of excitement.  People do not want to throw money at a sinking ship.  They do, however, want to be a part of something that is effective.  People are seeing WINS, and that’s motivating.

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