The Reformed Church in America’s Church Multiplication team is offering two grants for church planters within the denomination. The grants are funded by the RCA’s Church Growth Fund (CGF) and are provided to help church planters survive and continue ministry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Planters are being hit financially from multiple directions,” says Randy Weener, director of Church Multiplication. “Many of our plants are located in under-resourced areas with attendees who work in hospitality, manufacturing, retail, and personal transportation, all industries that are shutting down. This not only impacts congregational giving, but [the planters] are trying to respond to the needs of their members and community members who are desperate for the basics of food, medication, and rent.”
To help alleviate some of this financial stress, the CGF and Church Multiplication are offering two different grants. Church planters can apply for one or both grants, for a combined total of $1,500. The larger grant provides up to $1,000 toward meeting the greatest need of a church plant during the coronavirus crisis. The sustainability grant provides up to $500 for planters who are operating in a co-vocational funding model.
“Many planters are bi-vocational and their supplemental work, which makes them sustainable, has dried up,” says Weener. “They are getting hit [financially] from both the income and expense sides.”
The grants are being funded by the Church Growth Fund (CGF), which provides loans to churches to buy, build, and renovate facilities. Some of the interest from those loans provides Church Multiplication grants and supports other ministry. The CGF has been supporting church planters in this way for more than 20 years.
“In 1999, the CGF made the decision to start making contributions for church plant grants,” says Bob Carlson, executive director of the CGF. “We felt that it fit with our mission of making affordable rate loans to churches for building projects. By making funds available to church plants to help them in their early years to grow and become self-supporting, we can be there to make them the loan when it is time for their first building.”
To be eligible for application, church plants must have an approved new congregation plan (NCP) and must have launched within the last five years (since April 1, 2015). Applications for the grants need to be submitted to the Church Multiplication team no later than June 1. The grants are available on a first come, first served basis.
For many church planters, the grants will help them “respond to the emergency needs of their people and community,” says Weener. “For others, [the money] pays for rent, insurance, equipment to livestream, or it fills the gap left by loss of alternative funding sources or shrinking partner church support.”
So far, the Church Multiplication team has approved and distributed 35 grants to church planters.
“I pray that despite the limitations on socializing, our plants will create opportunities to share the good news of Jesus in this unique season when non-Christians are welcoming a spiritual conversation as they wrestle with anxiety, loss, and loneliness,” says Weener.
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