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Church planting for cheap

Darby Jones

SUMMARY: If you want to reach people where they are, constructing a church building may not be the first step. As the song says, “The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place, the church is a people.”

The following tips will help you think strong when your wallet is weak. After we jumpstart your creative juices, leave us a comment if you have other fresh ideas. Help us rethink church by thinking outside the box—or the building.

1. Think outside the building.   
You don’t need major financing to do this. If you want to start a church today, forget the four walls for the time being. 

2. Build people up. 
The easiest way to bypass staff and marketing dollars to reach people is simply to go to them. Request free demographic reports here. Learn who lives in your community and immerse yourself in the various subcultures. What do people do? Where do they hang out? Go there and church. That’s right; we’re using “church” as a verb now. Get used to it. Make it part of your vocabulary.

3. Be amazing. 
Rather than asking people to spread the word about an event, create an amazing event that people will talk about on their own. What amazes people? What are their interests? Start there and you need not worry about selling or marketing the event. It will explode on its own. 

4. Project advertising on a big wall. 
Rent, borrow or buy a used projector and get permission to advertise on a local building. You will need a projector with powerful lumens and a vector-based image to project. At night, park a vehicle next to the building and project your image through the windows onto the wall. You may run into some technical issues, but with tenacity, you can do it.

5. Visit the 9-to-5ers.
Ask friends in large companies or colleges if you can meet in the cafeteria for lunch. Instead of pushing weekly worship, just be yourself. Be with people and discuss what matters to them. Talk about God and pray with people as the Spirit calls.

6. Write personal letters of care and invitation.
Entrepreneurs do this all the time with their clients. It is inexpensive, targeted and a good way to introduce people to your ministry.

7. Repurpose content.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Why start a ministry from scratch or create marketing material that already exists? Don’t copy, but repurpose content to fit your efforts. Do not, however, change secular ads to make them sound churchy. You may want to read “10 Church signs that make people cringe” to get an idea of what I mean. 

8. Build the crowd before the building. 
Start building your network of people. When you actually start thinking about finding space for worship services, you’ll have conquered half the battle. How do you build a crowd? This goes back to No. 2. 

Adapted from an article at