Funding a Fresh Expression of church
This new form of church is attractive for its simplicity and focus on a specific context and meeting a particular community need. Most of the time these are led by Christ-followers who are not clergy and not connected to a church with large funds for risky missions and new ideas. So how do you fund your vision and support a Fresh Expression? As I have visited these new faith communities, I find a host of creative methods for funding. A good way to start is for your Lead Team to ask friends and family to give a launch gift similar to GoFundMe. Send out a letter or email explaining your vision, how you will impact the community and ask for their prayers first and foremost. Then second, ask for financial support as they are able. Acknowledge every gift and give your prayer partners and donors an update and progress report including pictures.
One new church I recently visited set up an LLC that owns the building & the church rents space as needed. The LLC board is made up of church members and rents out the facility for receptions, parties and community events. The LLC runs the coffee shop and maintains the facility. The church is able to say that all offerings go to ministries and missions, not a building!
Many Fresh Expressions fund themselves through Coffee, tea, food & desserts. This provides a meeting place, fellowship and employs people in the community. Make it exceptional to draw a crowd and build a good reputation for your service.
Bread baking can raise funds and involve the people in a common project. It also teaches young people to bake and learn a skill. Sale the bread at community events and invite folks to your church. Market it on Facebook and develop a distribution chain. Again, great bread makes a mark for the church!
Rent sports equipment if you are in a vacation area. At most beaches and lakes, the rental prices are very high. Charge a lower rate that sets you a part. People will ask you about this and it gives an opporentiuty to tell about your church. Offer tours as another service and a way to connect with people passing through.
Make rag rugs and plastic bag rugs. I saw this in an Asheville, North Carolina storefront church. The members made beautiful rugs and sold them through outlets & even in several countries. It provided jobs for local artists, the unemployed and was a unique mission.
Some churches sell hot pads and other local crafts. In poorer communities, the people can give in this special way. Then the church sells the handmade merchandise at festivals, fairs and storefronts.
Quilting, knitting, seamstress services, alterations, & shoe repair/polish. These are talents that are rare and sought after. People will drive long distances to your location to purchase these items and receive these services. Many neighborhoods no longer have these services - fill that gap!
Note cards, religious jewelry, books, art. This is a more difficult route yet some churches have made it work. Get sound business advice when you start and have a good accountability system.
Childcare/schools/tutoring/homeschool networks. Churches have been doing some of these for decades. Now the newest trend is to support home school families.
Some other ideas I continue to see: Flowers, decorations & yard art. Again, handmade and unique is the key. Gardening, vegetables, canning, preserves, Farmer's markets. Adult day care or specialized care for autism, alzheimers, etc.