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How to Start a Church: The Definitive Guide

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Starting a church isn’t something that most would do. That’s why it’s hard to find resources that will give you all the necessary information on how to do it. 

Ever thought of starting your own church?We're here to support your noble cause.  Here's a guide, that will walk you through on how to open a church and how to form a church in 2022 from the legal papers , to strategies, statistics, cost, and more. 

How to Start a Religion Legally

To make it quick, you are starting your own church legally if you have these requirements:

  • Name Reservation and Church Name - A name reservation ensures your church doesn’t have a namesake. On the other hand, the church name is what your church will be called or known legally. This is the most crucial step in  how to create a church legally so ponder on it.

  • Articles of Incorporation - defines if your church is non-profit, profit, B-corp, etc. 

  • Statement of Faith and Bylaws (Constitution and Bylaws) - This is a legal document containing clauses that determine your church’s purpose, membership eligibility, mission, and vision. 

  • Employer Identification Number - Required for taxable activities of your church.

  • IRS-501c3 Status - This is a document that will allow authorities to grant your church tax exemption

  • Bank Account or Bank Statement - Note that your church’s bank account must be under its name and not under your name; otherwise, it will classify as a personal bank account and be denied. A bank account or bank statement is required so that authorities can monitor how you generate and use funds. . 

  • Church Minutes - This is a document showing a breakdown of your church activities such as prayer meeting sessions, masses, fundraisers, and so on.  Authorities require to see that your church does exist and is not a dummy entity for fraudulent activities.

How to Start a Church in Florida:Statistics and Insights

Florida has a lot of locations where you can start a church. Still, it’s best to narrow your church to areas with many church attendees like Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach Gardens, Pensacola, Lutz, Copper City, and Longwood.

Out of these 9 locations, we observe the highest number of attendees in Jacksonville. That’s why it might be best to start your ministry here.Popular denominations in the city are Episcopalian, Lutheran, Christian, Southern Baptist, and Baptist.

Take a look at the table below if you’re wondering which denominations in Florida earn the most attendees.

Non-denominational churches - which don’t follow a particular form of worship prescribed by a specific religious group -  have the highest number of attendees. Therefore, it works best to build a church in Florida that’s not grounded on the strict doctrines of any religious fellowship.

You might think that building many churches is an excellent strategy to gain followers. But as we see in our study, doing so might do the opposite. 

Religious Denomination Number of Churches Attendees 
Southern Baptist 30105, 691
Non-denomination 25112,426
Lutheran Campus Ministry1139,784
Assemblies of God1038,566
Baptist838,000
Christian723,639
United Methodist715,083
Calvary Chapel 434,221

As you see from the table above, Southern Baptist churches exceed the number of non-denominational churches. However, though having fewer churches, non-denominational churches exceed the church attendees of  Southern Baptist churches at 6.18%.

The same is also true for Calvary Chapel. Despite having the fewest number of churches in the group, Calvary Chapel’s attendees are significantly greater than United Methodist and Christian denominations. 

How to Start a Church in California:Statistics and Insights

In California, a place where you should start your church is Los Angeles, as it has the highest number of church attendees out of all cities. Therefore, attracting followers as a new church will be easier if you start there. 


Of course, if you prefer other places, you can opt to start in San Diego, San Jose, Sacramento, Riverside, Modesto, Santa, Lake Forest, Irvine, or Bakersfield. One thing to note is that these states’ church attendees are lower than Los Angeles's by a large margin. 

Next, let’s take a look at which church denominations attract the most followers in California. 


Similar to Florida, non-denominational churches attract the most in California.Also, note that church attendees in non-denominational churches surpass church attendees of other denominations by a large margin. The conclusion? It seems that building a church with no denomination is what works best in California. 

How about the number of churches in California? Is it similar to Florida, wherein having more churches doesn’t equate to having more church attendees?

Denomination Number of Churches Attendees
Non-denomination 63282,083
Lutheran Campus Ministry25105,701
Assemblies Of God1965,069
Calvary Chapel 1679,300
Christian1043,450
Southern Baptist Church 950,834
The FourSquare Church 936,507
Baptist924,100

In California, building a lot of churches might help ensure success. As we’ve seen in our study, denominations with more churches also have more church attendees than denominations with fewer churches.

Therefore, when planning to start a church in California, make it one of your milestones to build another church for your ministry as soon as the church you’ve already built becomes self-sufficient. 

How to Start a Church in Texas: Statistics and Insights

We see Houston as the juiciest place in Texas to start a church. Its church attendees are significantly higher than other cities we included in our study. 

Your second option is Dallas, which has about 50% lower church attendees in Houston. Even though having more insufficient church attendees, Dallas still goes toe to toe, with Houston as one of the best locations in Texas to start a church due to the rise of independent charismatic churches there. 

You might want to build your church in line with non-denominational and Southern Baptist denominations in Texas. We must emphasize that Southern Baptist didn’t fall behind to non-denominational churches by a large margin and might have better success in Texas than in the states mentioned above.

Also, Both Southern Baptist and Non-denominational churches have the highest number of church attendees and the highest number of churches in Texas.  And so, the number of churches contributes to the number of church attendees in Texas, similar to California. 

Denomination Number of ChurchesAttendees
Southern Baptist Church 65286,813
Non-denominational52313,182
Lutheran Campus Ministry26
98,722
Baptist1536,051
United Methodist Church1543,933
Assemblies of God721.914
Churches of Christ819,463
Christian720,865

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How to Start A Home Church?

If you’re wondering how to start a church from scratch, a house church can be an effective way to do it. Let’s define what it is before diving into the particulars. 

A house church is a church wherein worship sessions are held in the house of a stranger or a member. Dating back to the Christian persecution in Rome, a house church provides more personal and genuine fellowship between members.  

An advantage with starting a house church is that you can do it without investing money. All that it needs is time, effort, and perseverance to realize your ministry. 

So what’s the first thing to do when starting a church in your home? We suggest you go out first, preach in other people’s houses, then invite people for worship sessions in your residence after building a reputation. Use these tips that provide clues on how to start a church service for your home church:

Send an Email or Letter and Ask for Permission to Preach

Strangers won’t think kindly if you just enter the premises of their property and announce that you will be preaching. And so, the first step is to build professional rapport and trust. Before deciding to preach in someone’s home, send a letter or email to the property owner stating your purpose, when the preaching will occur, and who will attend.

Invite People to Attend

Preaching is more worthwhile and engaging if a lot are listening. That’s why it might be great to invite people to join. Invite relatives, close neighbors, and other people affiliated with you.

Plan Your Preaching Session 

Modify your sermon according to the experiences of the host. By doing this, you ensure that they’re not offended as you deliver your message. Ask these questions to plan your preaching session:

  • What problems is the host currently facing right now?

  • Do they need guidance or suggestions to overcome life’s challenges?

  • What does the host believe in? Is there a particular religious view we look at differently? 

Hand Out Attendance and Feedback Forms

Print an attendance and feedback form a few hours before you go into the host’s house to start a sermon.  You will hand these things out to the participants when you’re done. Attendance will give you an idea of how many people are interested in your ministry. On the other hand, a feedback form will allow participants to rate your preach and provide insights for improvements. 

Starting a house church means asking people to join you for religious activity in someone’s house or your house. To tell you the truth, some will reject your offer. But still, don’t mind it and keep it up. Don’t hesitate and question results so long as what you’re doing isn’t harming anyone. With that said, duly apply the steps above on how to start a house church.

How Do I Start a Church with No Money?

A simple definition of a church is a building where people praise and worship. If you live by this definition, you can’t ever start a church without spending money and you will go in circles trying to find someone who can teach you how to start a church ministry given that financial resource lacks.

It’s another story if you look at things in a different light. Remember that a church is just an ordinary building if no people gather inside. The true church - the one that you should build- is the followers. And so, there’s no need to go asking how to set up a church with no money because financing isn’t the primary problem you have to address. 

You can start your church without money by gathering followers first and worrying about money later on. If you badly need a building but can’t afford construction costs, renting a cheap house or building will do in the meantime.

Our final suggestion for you is to start an online church. Numerous ways can be used to reach people with this method. We will talk more about how to establish a church online in the later parts of our discussion

To summarize, if you’re asking how to start a church without money,  all you need to do is gather followers first , preach, hope that donations come, then proceed to address finance related problems later on. 

How to Get Money to Start a Church?

An unsupported vocational church planter may establish an effective church, but most congregations need extra funding to cover meeting space costs, program expenditures, and other expenses. Church plants often need extra funding for things like launch activities, outreach initiatives, audio and video equipment, and gathering events like these. This is especially true for new congregations just starting out.

A church planter in Georgia opened a "second-hand" shop and used the proceeds to fund the new congregation. Another Colorado church planter accomplished the same thing by starting numerous companies, such as a coffee shop and an "odd jobs" service. Obviously, you need to be really cautious while setting this up and maintain meticulous records, but we like this approach to raising money for the ministry.

Developing a fund-raising brochure, a fund-raising letter, and a fund-raising discussion might help a church planter get a jumpstart on these resources. This strategy calls for the church planter to create a promotional letter and brochure that includes a letter of appreciation from a reputable and well-known denominational leader for the new church. Mail this leaflet to possible funders, particularly those who have shown an interest in the project's next phases of development. Getting permission from a possible donor's pastor before contacting someone who is engaged in a local church is a good idea and an act of honesty.

How to Start an Online Church?

Starting a new church is also possible through online means. At present,  advancements in the internet and websites allow for various ways to reach audiences and generate funds. If you’re brainstorming how to start an online church ministry, here are the options. 

Create a Youtube Channel

“How to start your own church using Youtube and earn money at the same time?” Surely, you’re asking this question right now. 

With at least 2 billion monthly users, Youtube is one of the most popular platforms that you can use to build a church.  Utilizing it is very simple, just create an account and start posting videos not shorter than 5 minutes long. 

Your Youtube church can raise funds even without asking for tithes and other forms of donation. The Youtube partner program is what will help your church thrive financially. You’ll become eligible to enroll once your channel has reached 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours. 

Upon enrolling in the Youtube partner program, your church channel will earn at least 18$ per 1,000 views on its videos. However, this amount is sure to increase because more viewers will subscribe, given that you post content regularly.  And so, if you do well, you’ll earn hundreds or millions even. 

Tiktok Isn't Bad Too!

Are you more comfortable doing short preaching sessions? If that’s the case, then you should try TikTok. Somehow, Tiktok is similar to Youtube because you earn money by posting videos, but the hitch is that they must not be longer than 9 or 15 seconds.

“Facebook and Instagram are still the best places to go for small churches my friends! Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and TikTok all can be useful”, says Caleb Boesler, a social media marketer. 

So are there pastors who succeeded in starting an online church ministry in Tiktok? There are a lot. The most successful ones are:

  • Pastor Grant Merrel 

  • Pastor Tanner

  • Pastor Andy Ferguson

  • Pastor Noah Carr

  • Pastor Gregg Locke

Build a Website

Competitors in Tiktok and Youtube might be numerous, so we perfectly understand if you don’t want to try them. So, aside from social media, is there another way on how to start a church ministry online?

A website can be as good as Tiktok, Youtube, and other platforms when starting  your own church.  You can do a lot with it, such as producing blog posts, guides, informative articles, and many more aside from posting videos.

Revenue generation is as diverse as the activities that a website allows you to do. You can earn money through Google ads, subscriptions, donations, and selling goods. 

Money isn’t a problem if you want to start a church online by utilizing a website. There’s Blogspot that you can use for free if you’re not willing to invest at the moment.  We recommend you to use it because its features are simple and tailored to individuals who don’t have prior experience with website management.

Starting a Non Denominational Church

A non-denominational church allows members to experience a form of worship that doesn’t require a drastic lifestyle change and strict adherence to specific customers or practices. That’s why it’s one of the fastest-growing ministries in the United States

How to become a church that’s non-denominational? Don’t forget to satisfy  that one requisite, which is to introduce a unique form of worship that fits the church members’  needs, beliefs, and aspirations.  Here are some guide questions that will help you come up with one:

  • What do I believe in? What kind of worship do I want the church attendees to experience?

  • Will my church get in the way of someone’s rights? If so, how? 

  • Will people find my church worthwhile and engaging?

  • What strategies should I use to deliver the gift of religion? Will it be through singing and preaching, home services, online platforms, or all of these, perhaps?

As for the papers, your non-denominational church will have the same requirements as any other church out there; building permit for your church building, constitution and bylaws, organizational structure, and IRS forms, among other things.

How to Start an Intercessory Prayer Ministry?

Options available for you to do this is to start the intercessory ministry through online platforms, prayer groups, and prayer means. The thing is, it all starts with finding people to join the ministry and so, focus on building a crowd before doing anything else. 

How to Start a Prayer Group?

Starting a prayer group is one of the most effective initial strategies before starting a church. It enables you to find people who will quickly warm up to the idea of joining your ministry. 

Before you do anything else, be very clear about the purpose of your prayer group.  Helping people cope with problems, sharing the wonderful news of religion, shortening the gap out of racism, and providing fellowship and inclusiveness are purposes you might want to consider. 

When you’ve come up with a purpose, create a name for it. A good name for a prayer group is short and conveys the course of members’ actions. 

Next, create a place where the members of your prayer group can convene. It doesn’t need to exist physically, by the way. You can use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to create “virtual hubs” where members of the prayer group can get in touch and invite people to join.

Finally, send invites. We recommend you begin by inviting people close to you. When these people find your prayer group worthwhile, they will then decide to invite others on your behalf.

If you want other tips in starting a prayer group, try consulting.

  • Intercessors for America

  • Meetup Prayer Groups

  • Pray for Our Nation

  • Watchmen on the Wall

  • Online Christian Fellowship

  • God Answers Prayers

  • Prayer Request Group

  • Chrisitan Women’s Prayer and Praise Group

  • Mighty Men of Prayer

  • 24-7 Prayer

How to Start a Prayer Chain?

Starting a prayer chain is always a good idea, but we won’t say that it will help you get started with your church. However, it takes you to like-minded people who believe in the blessings of power and religion. 

The way a prayer chain works is simple - you create a prayer asking for a solution or guidance over an issue or a cause and invite people to join in. Once you’re done praying, ask people to pass the prayer along to others who have not joined.

To start a prayer chain, you need to develop a prayer that everyone finds easy to memorize, understand, and internalize. Aside from these, it must also be very relevant to the issues that people and society face. A perfect example is the Roman Catholic’s Oratio Imperata. This is a prayer that a chain of churches in the Philippines recite just before a mass ends. Here’s an example of the prayer for your referral:

Oratio Imperata for Covid-19

“God our Father,

We come to you in our need

To ask your protection against the 2019 N-Corona Virus,

That has claimed lives

And has affected many.

We pray for your grace

For the people tasked with studying the nature and cause

Of this virus and its disease

And of stemming the tide of its transmission.

Guide the hands and minds of medical experts

That they may minister to the sick

With competence and compassion,

And of those governments and private agencies

That must find a cure and solution to this epidemic.

We pray for those afflicted

May they be restored to health soon.

Grant us the grace

To work for the good of all

And to help those in need.

Grant this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son,

Who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

God, forever and ever.  Amen”

When you’re done making a prayer, the final step is to hand it out to people. Send it through emails, Facebook posts, texts, and methods that will enable you to reach numerous people in a short amount of time. 

How to Start a Women's Ministry?

Women might be more religious than men, and Pew Research’s study shows that 72% of Christian women in America say that religion is important, while only 62% of Christian men in America say the same. Therefore, if you want to start a church that’s gender-centered, starting a women’s ministry might work. 

“Women in the US have traditionally been taught to value that second side of our thinking more than men have. They access it easier and are better at it. They also can discuss it more easily, and there are some scientific studies that suggest that this is innate in our hardwiring. Women have better connectivity between the emotional and verbal centers than men. Men, on the other hand, are wired to deal with emotions through physical action.”(Source)

The first step to starting a church ministry is to create a constitution and bylaws for your church centering on women’s rights and welfare. For example, you can state in your vision and mission clauses that the church exists to protect females from abuse, harassment, domestic violence, and so on. 

Thinking of a form of worship that females can easily relate to is the second step. For example, sermons can revolve around the gospels talking about women’s rights and functions in society, and prayers can revolve around asking for guidance for the issues that women commonly face.

Next is to look for a place where your members will gather. Again, you can use a website or other virtual means instead of a building.

The last step is to keep your church members engaged, so try to organize activities that are not only fun but purposeful too. For instance, you can initiate a home prayer service targeting women in the community that haven’t been attending church activities for a considerable number of years. Other options that you should try are cleanup drives, fundraisers, and volunteer activities.

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How Much Does It Cost to Start a Church?

It’s easier for you to understand if you see the figures for yourself than listening to us explain. The table below provides a quick breakdown of the cost of the requirements for starting a church. 

Paid RequirementsCost (On Average)
Registration Fee$100
Bank Account$100
Church Building (taking into account the total cost of general contractor fees and architectural fees for a 17,000 square foot area )$2,972,700
Musical Equipment Cost ( full set)$843
Church Pew ( Church Chairs)$2,000
Insurance$451
Honorarium$150
Total $2,976,344

Note: These data are taken from the average cost as mentioned by other websites

Is Church a Business?

This isn’t a simple question to answer, in fact, there isn’t a definite answer for it! Let’s first determine the criteria that businesses fall under.

A business serves several functions, but coming to church (or any religious activity) provides a completely different purpose for many people. When working for a church, though, is it any different from working for a business? First, let's examine the counterarguments to the proposition that churches should be treated as businesses.

Identifying the objective of a company and comparing it to the genuine purpose of a church should be the first step. An internet search will reveal that a company may be classified in two ways. For starters, a business is anything a person does to gain money via trade or profession, according to the first definition. According to the second definition, owning a business entails doing trade. In the Christian religion, a church serves as a building where people gather for worship. As you can see, the goals of each organization are quite varied. 

To put it another way, you attend church to participate in Christian religious services while you are in business to generate money. The second issue of debate is in relation to taxes because, like most companies that exist to make money, they are subject to taxes like sales and income taxes. Churches, on the other hand, don't have a business motive as part of their overall goal; thus they become involved in charitable endeavors instead. This exempts them from paying taxes as long as they follow the IRS's rules and avoid politics.

But still, we can’t deny that churches initiate money-making opportunities by establishing a store, educational centers, and paid religious services. So, if we consider these things, then a church is a business.

Can a Ministry Be for Profit?

Contribution from church members will help to pay to keep the church going. However, it will only go so far as to cover costs for electricity, rent (if you’re renting a building), equipment, and honorariums for instrumentalists, choir members, and preachers.

If you want your church to get big, like having more than ten branches in different states in the US, consider finding a way to generate income aside from tithes or offerings. 

The thing is, when you put income generation and church together, a big question emerges from the mix; how do you start a church for profit without making it look like an income-generating enterprise?

The answer is to get a B-corp registration for starting a church. “One way to make sure your organization remains results-oriented and mission-oriented is to classify as a Benefit Corporation (B-Corp). This means you write into your bylaws that the mission always comes before profits”, Brain S. Holmes, founder of Mpoweredchristian.org, states. 

Your church will be obliged to pay business-related taxes as soon as it undertakes money-making opportunities.  There’s no going around with this requirement, even if you say that your church’s business is raising revenue for charitable purposes. 

But let’s not forget that there might be social implications if you establish a business directly under your church's name. And so, a step that we want you to try is to create a subsidiary.  So, how can this help? A subsidiary will be the one to manage the business and will send some earnings to your church as shares. The result? Your church earns money with no direct involvement in money-making opportunities.

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How to Register a Church?

Before our topic on how to start your own church ends, we will walk you through the different registration processes of a church:

Registering a Church to a State 

Get an application form and pass those legal papers to the state government of the location where you plan to start a ministry. These legal papers are those that we mentioned in the first part of this discussion. 

Registering a Church Building

Next, you have to register your church building. By the way, leasing isn't exempt from this requirement. To start doing this, approach local authorities. 

Registering Your Church as a Non-Profit or B-Corp

The first thing you need to do is to draft the constitution and by laws of your church. This constitution and bylaws must clearly state that you will primarily pursue non-profit activities despite taking actions that generate revenue. 

If you don’t know how to draft a constitution and bylaws, look for nearby attorneys. Prepare money if you go for this option. Right now, a constitution and bylaws made by a legal expert cost $350 - $2,500. 

The next thing you have to do is to get a bank account. We suggest that you approach smaller banks to avoid hefty bank account application fees.Also, don’t ever think of using your own bank account because it won’t do. 

The final step is to get an incorporation application from the state. Fill  it out , furnish the requirements, submit the form together with furnished requirements, and wait for approval.

How to Get Church Insurance?

An insurance expert affiliated with an insurance company can assist you figuring out the church insurance packages for your ministry. When a significant calamity like a fire or a lawsuit.Church insurance protects your business and helps it stay afloat while you sort things out. 

General Liability insurance, for example, protects activities that might make your church accountable for harm to others, as opposed to property insurance, which covers the assets you own (injuries, property, or reputation). Many churches are unsure of the level of liability insurance they need. In recent years, litigation and charges of false accusations or improper conduct have increased the vulnerability of churches. 

Based on a quick survey we conducted on the pricing various companies,  the average cost of general liability insurance is $37.58 monthly or $451 annually.  Here's a table that shows the data we have gathered from the home pages of different insurers to come up with such conclusion.

Different Monthly/Annual Rates of General Liability Insurance 

Monthly CostAnnual Cost
$33.25$399
$41.66$500
$30$360
$53$636
$30$360

Note: These data are from from surveys conducted by the The Harford, Insureon, HiscoxProgressive, and Techinsurance to know how much their customers pay on average for general liability insurance. 

An independent insurance agent, on the other hand, may aid you in locating the best church insurance policy for your organization's requirements.Upon learning more about your church's activities and operations, an independent insurance agent will provide insurance coverage recommendations. Because church insurance is so adaptable, you can design a policy that covers for legal risks, employee related injuries, and claims from third parties. 

You can also turn to online insurance advisors. Coverwallet is a perfect example for this. The website has a live chat feature that allows you to talk with an insurance agent.  This is the fastest way for you to get accurate information about which insurance fits best.

Conclusion

Get those legal papers processed and don't forget to strategize if you want to succeed. Another thing, avail of an insurance to take care of situations where your church might be held liable for a claim. With that said, starting a church isn't easy, but all will end well if you persevere. Trials will come that will challenge your determination but  everything will be overcome if you're really set on your goal. We hope that this guide helped figure out how to start a church ministry step by step. If you  did, don’t forget to share this content with others to share what you learned. 


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