How to Start a Church

Written by Dave Lavinsky

How to Start a Church


How to Start a Church

If you’re looking to start a church or religious organization, you’ve come to the right place. Since we’re going to show you exactly how to do it.

We’ll start with key religious organization industry fundamentals like how big the market is, what the key segments are, and how revenues and profits are generated.

Then we’ll discuss keys to not only starting a church, but succeeding in it!

How Big is the Religious Organization Industry?

AThere are approximately 192,921 religious organizations in the US, with $111.2 billion in revenue. Its annual growth rate is 2.5% over the past five years.

What are the Key Segments of the Religious Organization Industry?

Religious organizations are segmented by denominations. The three main segments for the industry are Evangelical Christian worship services, Roman Catholic worship services and Mainline Protestant worship services. With Black Churches, Jewish, Muslim and other faiths accounting for the remaining industry’s revenue.

What External Factors Affect the Religious Organization Industry?

A number of factors affect the performance of the religious organizations industry. These drivers include:

  • Per capita disposable income – As the income of individuals involved in religious organizations increase, they tend to donate more and increases revenue of the industry.
  • Number of households – The number of households affects the population of religious organizations. The bigger the families of individuals affiliated to religious organizations get, the more members sign up to the industry.
  • Number of immigrants – The United States is known to hold a large number of immigrants. The increase of immigrants also affects the increase and decrease of religious organization industry.
  • Time spent on leisure and sports – Religious activities are also considered leisure time for most families in religious communities, thus increased time for leisure is good for the industry.
  • Number of college students – Many college educated individuals do not have interest in participating in religious organizations. The increase of accessibility to college education this year negatively affects the religious organization industry.

What are the Key Customer Segments in the Religious Organization Industry?

The key customer segments for religious organizations are: Boomer generation, Generation, Silent generation and Millennial generation.

What are the Key Costs in the Religious Organization Industry?

  • Wages – About one third of the religious organizations’ revenue covers for the wages paid to religious leaders and church staffs that work for congregations.
  • Purchases – Over the last 5 years, revenue share of religious organizations for purchases changed from 17.0% to 16.0%.
  • Rent and utilities – Rent and utilities today dropped to below 15% of the industry revenue from 20.0%.
  • Depreciation – 4.7% of revenue of religious organizations is spent on depreciation.
  • Marketing – 1.5% of the industry revenue accounts for marketing costs.
  • Other expenses – Religious programs and activities make up 17.9% of the irreligious organizations’ revenue this year, 9.0% of which is spent on mission support.

Finish Your Business Plan Today!

If you’d like to quickly and easily complete your business plan, download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template and complete your plan and financial model in hours.

What are the Keys to Launching a New Religious Organization?

1. Identify your mission and vision.

Before venturing in the religious organization industry, determine your purpose. This includes your statement of beliefs and the type of ministry that you want to get involved with – do you plan on focusing on missionary outreaches, community activities, youth programs, etc. This will enable you to forecast your needs and give you a clearer guideline of what your organization will be all about.

2. Choose a location.

In choosing the site of your religious organization, consider its accessibility to people because this industry involves a lot of interaction with the community. You should also find a location where you will be willing to reside because starting a religious organization, especially a church, is a full-time mission.

3. Start small group meetings.

Build good relationships with the people in the communities surrounding your religious organization. This will help you establish a good name and credibility. The more popular your organization gets from the people’s good remarks about it, the larger its influence will be.

Incorporate Your Business at the Guaranteed Lowest Price

We are proud to have partnered with Business Rocket to help you incorporate your business at the lowest price, guaranteed.

Not only does BusinessRocket have a 4.9 out of 5 rating on TrustPilot (with over 1,000 reviews) because of their amazing quality…but they also guarantee the most affordable incorporation packages and the fastest processing time in the industry.

Incorporate with BusinessRocket at the guaranteed lowest price now.

4. Have reliable workers or volunteers.

Look for people with the same vision and calling as you who are willing to work voluntarily with minimal wages as you start with your religious organization. Doing this will enable you to spend your initial money for programs and other costs.

5. Organize fundraising activities.

This is especially helpful to religious organizations without support from bigger institutions or sponsors. Think of activities where communities can participate, enjoy, and donate. Proceeds from these activities are tax deductible and can help finance your next projects. This will also make your organization more known to the public.

6. Comply with government requirements.

Make sure that you have all your documents prepared for your organization to be legally acknowledged by the government. Know the requirements that you need to submit to both state and national government. Consult a lawyer if you can afford it or if you know someone who can do it for a lesser fee. But, remember that processing your requirements by yourself will save you more money.

7. Secure your organization’s bank account.

It is important to have a separate bank account for your business organization to keep your funds safe. This allows easy access to sponsors and members who want to donate to your organization, and provides clear record of your financial transactions. Make sure to document all of your banking records in case of compliance audits made by the government.

If you’d like to quickly and easily complete your business plan, download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template and complete your business plan and financial model in hours.

What are the Typical Startup Costs for a New Religious Organization?

Required start-up costs

501c3 filing to accept tax deductible donations Form 1023 filing to apply for recognition by the IRS of exempt status State cost (depending on state).Although there aren’t many required costs, there are a lot of optional expenses that you may need to consider depending on your church business model including location, equipment, staff, supplies, telephone, website, and capital fund.

Helpful Videos

Church Marketing with YouTube

How to Market Your Church Plant Before it Launches


Additional resources in the religious organization market

For additional information on the religious organization market, consider these industry resources:


How to Finish Your Church Business Plan in 1 Day!

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your business plan?

With Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

Click here to finish your business plan today.


OR, Let Us Develop Your Plan For You

Since 1999, Growthink has developed business plans for thousands of companies who have gone on to achieve tremendous success.

Click here to see how Growthink business plan consultants can create your business plan for you.