Financial stress is overtaking many church planters, leading some to even consider quitting the calling altogether, new research shows.
An April study by The Barna Group found that only 41 percent of church planters feel personally secure in their finances, while 24 percent say they are struggling and 8 percent say they are in survival mode.
Only 4 percent described themselves as having more than they need for themselves and their families, Barna found in the study produced with Thrivent Financial.
“Church planters don’t just feel insecure — many are financially insecure,” the Christian research organization said in the report titled “Church Planters and the Cost of Starting a Church.”
The reality is that nearly 40 percent of those who launch new churches earn $35,000 to $50,000 a year. One in five, the study found, make less than $35,000 annually.
“In most states, an income of $31,525 or less qualifies a family for food stamps.”
One impact is that a third consider quitting. Nearly half of those in the lower income brackets say they think about abandoning church planting.
“Further, and more worrisome, is the fact that similar proportions of leaders report strains on their marriage as a result of the financial stresses associated with church planting (35%),” according to the report.
The Barna and Thrivent survey studied 769 planters around the United States, including those in rural and urban areas.
Brooke Hempell, Barna’s vice president of research and director of the study, said it’s hoped the research will begin a national conversation about the challenges facing church planters.
“Most church planters are entrepreneurial problem solvers,” Hempell said in the study. “But these findings add up to a daunting reality for even the most resourceful of ministry leaders. The emotional implications are most concerning.”