Are you trying to start a ministry at your church? Where exactly do you begin? Hopefully, we can help you answer these questions with 6 steps! A church ministry is a small part of the bigger picture to help further the mission.
Whether it’s an online ministry to connect people, a youth ministry, or a single mother’s ministry – the possibilities are endless. There are a few things you’ll need to do first before you begin your ministry. Once you have your idea, that’s just the start! Let’s find out what it takes to start a ministry at your church.
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Table of contents
- Ministry Defined: What it is and isn’t
- Qualifications for a Ministry
- 6 Steps to Starting a Ministry
- Examples of Different Types of Ministries
Ministry Defined: What it is and isn’t
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Matthew 28:16-20
God’s greatest commandment is for us to go out and make disciples. A ministry does just this – helping others to know of God’s amazing love. Church ministry refers to any action taken on behalf of the church that serves its mission in any way. Ministry might look like worship, preaching, volunteering, going on mission trips, or any small actions that make your church a better place.
Church ministry is important because it helps develop relationships between God’s people and the church. There are key differences between starting a church and starting a ministry. Starting a church requires you to have a more comprehensive strategy that covers all components of a Biblical church. How will you provide service, teaching, and room for growth for all members.
A ministry may have a more specific mission–such as helping the homeless, serving single moms, or reaching a specific set of people with the Gospel (such as athletes or children. The entire process for starting a ministry may look very different than the process for starting a church.
In both cases, however, you will need to take steps to attain non-profit status, create a donation process, and then decide on a leadership structure.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.Ephesians 4:11-13
Qualifications for a Ministry
Just as with starting a church, you’ll need to follow many of the same legal requirements. Whether you’re connected to a church or creating a separate ministry, you must register as a nonprofit organization. So, how do you do that?
1. Attain Tax Exempt Status
Apply for tax exempt status will allow you to receive grants, donations, discounts, and of course exemption from paying taxes in your state. For a more comprehensive breakdown, check out a complete guide.
- Applying for a 501(c)(3) license
- Creating the legal, founding documents for your church or ministry
- Recruiting a board of directors
- Filing for tax-exempt status
a. Consult a lawyer
Don’t try to start a church without legal counsel. Many lawyers who specialize in a simple non-profit and tax exempt status will charge you around $1,500-$2,500 to double-check your non-profit documents. This can help relieve wasted time when you’re unsure of what to do next.
b. Organize according to tax-exemption rules
The IRS provides online training for those submitting an application to become tax-exempt. You definitely want to take this training on tax exempt status.
Again, this is the IRS’s official page explaining what you must do in order to properly become and remain a legitimate non-profit entity, which is referred to by the IRS as a 501(c)(3).
c. Ensure your 501(c)(3) status
Once you have completed the 501(c)(3) application, you can request confirmation of its approval by filling out the IRS’s 1023 form. A must for tax exempt status.
d. Fill out SS4 form to get Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Once the IRS grants you 501(c)(3) status, your church will be an official tax-exempt entity.
Then, you will be eligible to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS’s SS4 form.
e. Open a bank account with your EIN
Once you have your EIN, you can do two things. First, you can use that EIN to open a bank account that belongs to the church. Second, you can hire and pay employees out of that bank account.
2. Partner with a Church Planting Network
Church planting networks are strategic alliances formed by churches, organizations, and leaders with a shared vision and purpose: to plant and establish new churches. These networks provide a framework for collaboration, support, and shared resources to empower church planters in their mission. If you want help, and we all do, then joining a church planting network is a great next step. You’ll be part of a large community that can assist you in the process of creating a ministry.
- A cooperative of independent churches from different denominations, networks, and backgrounds who strategically resource church planters and pastors to help them reach people with the message of Jesus.
- Acts 29 exists to plant churches worldwide by recruiting, assessing, training, and supporting church planters. They offer church leaders decades of experience-proven training, guidance, and tools for planting churches designed to grow and thrive. The call to make disciples is answered most effectively through gospel-centered churches.
The Send Network has helped plant over 10,000 churches since 2010 and have over 47,000 partner churches. Church planting is their strategy to spread the gospel, respond to brokenness and to bring about restorative healing — spiritually, emotionally, economically and socially.
3. Write a Mission Statement
Whether you have a written mission statement yet or not, your church does have a mission that guides your work. A mission statement that builds upon that mission can help your church connect with new guests and excite your members to greater levels of participation. It puts into words around your church and demonstrates what you’re all about. A mission statement should be a clear and concise outline of the goals of your ministry. Something that anyone can understand and follow!
6 Steps to Starting a Ministry
1. Discover and Fill a Need
Sometimes, a need we want to meet isn’t truly a need. Is the need broad or simply being overly emphasized by a few vocal people? Sometimes, one or two passionate people push something through that really isn’t shared or supported by the rest of the church. When those people lose interest, the ministry dies. Is it a need you can realistically meet? There will always be more needs than you can effectively meet.
Is the need already being met somewhere else? If so, maybe a partnership is a better idea. There may already be another church or a local organization offering something similar and your support can be more effective than creating a competing structure.
2. Align Mission with the Overall Church Mission
If you’ve identified a true, unmet need and believe your church is called and equipped to meet it, the next step is aligning the ministry with the strategy of your overall church’s mission.
You want the ministry to truly be a part of the church strategy because a ministry or program that’s tacked on will never have the desired effect. You need more than passion for a good idea, it takes hard work and determination. Your ministry needs to fit with the rest of your church’s values.
3. Choose a Driven Ministry Leader
Make sure your leader has the gift of leadership, not just a passion to help people. You need more than a passionate person to lead this new endeavor. You need someone who can build a team and communicate well. Leading a ministry is not an easy job and will take a lot of time and effort on everyone’s part.
4. Develop an Action Plan
A ministry action plan doesn’t just describe what the new ministry will do. It describes how the ministry will work. It’s a place to capture and communicate goals, events and structure. Start at the top by listing the church mission, vision, values and goals and then help the ministry leader connect the dots. A helpful tip to any action plan is to set SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound.
5. Allocate a budget
Part of your ministry planning should involve allocating appropriate funding for the ministry. After all, if you want it to succeed, you want to do it right. If you’ve gotten this far, don’t set your new work up for failure by failing to allocate funding. Your ministry may not need a ton of funding to succeed, but you do need appropriate funding, something that’s in step with your overall budget and church goals. This is why it’s important to set up as a nonprofit so that you can accept any generous donations. Fundraising for your ministry can also be a helpful goal to have.
Once you launch your new ministry, the work begins. Now you get to do the thing you’re actually called to do. The passion and drive you have for the ministry will lead you in the right direction. Every ministry will have it’s ups and downs, but perseverance and patience is the key.
You now have the opportunity to evaluate, improve and make necessary changes. Don’t wait until something breaks to evaluate. Go ahead and schedule your first evaluation meeting for 30 days after the launch. Be proactive about getting people together to celebrate, write down lessons you’ve learned and talk about changes that can help your new ministry go to the next level.
Examples of Different Types of Ministries
There are so many types of ministries that make up a church. From worship to children’s ministry to outreach, each one is unique and requires a different type of leader. Just as each ministry serves a different part of the church and the community. When creating a new ministry, it’s important to make sure there isn’t already one similar in your church. You’ll need to decide which areas you’d like to focus on. Below are several different examples of ministry areas that make up a church. Take a look to get inspired for what you can bring to your community.
This is the most obvious type of ministry, where someone serves by worshiping God. This service helps your church, too, with activities like leading worship and collecting prayers. A worship ministry is often the first impression that church members will see. People a part of the worship ministry lead the congregation to Christ by setting the tone for the service and is a very important part of each week.
Outreach ministry includes efforts to share the gospel with people outside of your church. These actions look like serving in the community, hosting Bible study groups, and recruiting more people to join your church. Outreach ministries act out exactly what God has asked us to do.
Teaching as a form of ministry is exactly what it sounds like! Whether in your church or your community, it is an important act of ministry since it helps educate others about the Bible and your religious teachings. You might aim to set up classes for those that aren’t as educated in the Bible to gain knowledge and better understanding.
4. Guest services
Guest services ministry plays an important role in building your church’s community. These are the people stationed around your church to answer questions and make people feel welcome. They also help plan and execute welcome mixers after services and other social gatherings.
5. Children’s ministry/ Youth ministry
This ministry helps guide the children at your church and in your community. Actions in children’s ministry include teaching Sunday school, planning outings for kids, and serving as a youth group leader. The youth are the next generation and we must set them up well for their future. When you have a successful children’s and youth ministry at your church, you will see health and growth.
Starting a ministry is no easy job, but it is a rewarding one. God has called us to go out and make disciples. By starting and fulfilling your ministry’s goals, you are carrying out the Great Commission. Surround yourself with like minded people who want to see the ministry’s mission come to life!