Starting A Church With No Members
If you’re considering starting a church, I’m sure you’ve heard horror stories of how difficult it can be. You may even have a few friends who tried and failed. However, if you’ve been called by God to start a church, don’t let the fear of failure dissuade you from pursuing your calling! With careful planning and hard work, you can start a successful church—even with no members at first. Here are the steps we took when we started our church:
Find and secure your building.
Once you have a team and an idea of what you want your church to be, it’s time to start looking for a building. There are many factors that go into this decision, but we’ve compiled a list of the most important ones:
- Budget. How much money do you have available? What can you afford? If this is your first time starting a church, it may be helpful to look at other churches in your area and see what kind of spaces they use. This will help give some perspective on what’s possible.
- Accessibility. People come from all over the world with different transportation options—driving versus carpooling versus taking public transit or walking—so make sure that any space where people can get to easily will accommodate them as well as possible (e.g., parking).
- Amenities such as lighting and acoustics are also important because they’ll affect how comfortable people feel during worship services—and how well they’re able to concentrate on God while praying or hearing scripture readings aloud!
Begin gathering members.
Now that you have a plan, the next step is to begin gathering members. You can start by finding people you can trust. This could be your friends, family or even colleagues at work. The key here is to find like-minded individuals who will share your vision and help grow your church from the ground up.
The best place to start looking for new members is in your own social circle or community. People are more likely to join a church if they know someone who already belongs there, so this might be an ideal way for you to build up initial numbers quickly without having to go out and recruit strangers yourself (although this will still be necessary later on).
You should also set up a website and social media accounts that clearly explain what your church stands for and how people can get involved with it—this will give potential attendees some information about what they’re getting themselves into before committing their time or money (or both). Your existing members should also make use of these resources as well by posting information about upcoming events as well as other relevant content that might attract new followers into our congregation’s fold!
Start a church board.
You need a board of directors.
Your church board is responsible for creating and implementing the vision, mission and values of your church. The role of the board is to serve as an advisory group that works together with you to help make decisions about how best to reach the community where you live. A few responsibilities of your church’s leadership team include:
- Developing and maintaining a strategic plan
- Reviewing financial statements annually
- Making recommendations on new ministry initiatives or programs as needed
Recognize your first member.
You have a vision for your church, and now that you’re finally able to turn it into reality, you’ve got to start attracting people.
As with any business, starting a church often means creating relationships with people who are already involved in the same industry or community as you. You’ll want to meet with some leaders of different denominations or religious groups and discuss how they might be willing to support your new endeavor.
These conversations may lead nowhere – perhaps these organizations lack the funds necessary for such an investment. Maybe they don’t feel like there’s enough demand in your area for another church (or perhaps even any churches at all). Maybe they just don’t trust you! But if things progress well enough from here, one of these organizations could wind up being your first member/investor/partner-in-crime/etc., which would be amazing because then everything else falls into place:* Your future members will know where their spiritual home is located.* Your pastor will have somewhere fireproofed where he can hold services (and maybe even rent out space for other events).* Your board members won’t need any more excuses not make sure everything stays on track.* The property itself will become valuable real estate when other churches see how successful yours was right off the bat!
Contact the IRS for a tax identification number.
You need to get a tax identification number. You can apply for one online at IRS.gov and provide the agency with information about your church’s structure, purpose, and operations.
Apply for your legal charter.
- Get a lawyer to help you: You will need to apply for your legal charter, which is a document that makes your church official. This can be done by contacting the Secretary of State and following their instructions. They will also help you find an appropriate building, if needed.
- Follow the steps outlined in the article above: You will need to get your charter signed by whoever is mayor where you live, followed by getting it signed by a judge or justice of the peace, then having it signed by either the governor or secretary of state.
These are the steps to start a church.
You should start by forming a board, which is the group of people who make decisions for your church. If you have no members, then it will be just you, but that’s okay! Starting with just one person can be very rewarding.
Next, recognize your first member by inviting them to join your church through baptism or some other ceremony.
As soon as possible after this point (and certainly within three months of it), apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS if you haven’t already (we’ll guide you through how to do this in just a few moments).
After that’s done, send off applications for legal charters in each state where you want to operate; these are usually available online or at local county clerk offices.
Starting a church is not easy, but the rewards can be immense. You will find that you are making a difference in the lives of others and improving your own life in turn. We wish you success!