Do you feel like God is calling you to start a ministry but you don’t know what to do next? In this article I’d like to explore 7 steps to take when starting a ministry. If you’re being called out for this momentous, yet honored task, then learn how to start a ministry today. Then you can follow God’s lead and allow His will to be done through your life.
Step 1: The Calling to Start a Ministry
Before you begin the task of starting a ministry and getting all your ducks in a row, it’s important to note that you must first be called by God to do so. As Christians, we are all apart of One Body: the Body of Christ. Therefore, we all have different gifts and different roles. Not everyone is called to missions or to be a pastor. In the same light, not everyone is called to start a formal ministry either (although we are all called to be a witness, of course).
There’s nothing wrong with this, of course. We all have different roles and they are all important because they all work together to serve God’s will. Romans 12:4-8 talks about this very thing:
“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” – Romans 12:4-8
So the first step in this journey really falls to God calling you out for this. But also for you to listen and be ready to move if and when He does.
Step 2: Praying for God’s Further Leading
The conviction to start a ministry is just the beginning. In that step of starting a ministry God will lay a ministry idea heavily on your heart. But you may not know what it will look like yet. A word of warning here: don’t take it upon yourself to decide what the ministry will look like. God wants you to lean into Him heavily right now. He will show you exactly what and who the ministry is for and how you can reach them.
Let’s use a real life example. My husband and I have started a ministry called Acts of the Remnant. I’ll be honest that we have not been as faithful with maintaining it as we should be. We’re trying to change that, but it’s been a challenge for us.
In this example God gave my husband the name of this ministry before anything else. At first we didn’t know what it would look like. What was this ministry for? We initially thought maybe it would be a local church fellowship. But as we prayed for God’s leading He showed us that it was to be an online ministry directed specifically towards strengthening the Body of Christ. Over time God has revealed even more to us about this ministry. At first we thought the ministry was just a YouTube channel. But God called me in particular to also write blog posts for this ministry too.
So as you can see by this example, God will reveal the purpose of the ministry to you. It might take time and even once you begin He may show you even more. Pray for His leading and continue to pray for His leading so that you are always using the ministry He’s called you to for HIS GLORY and not yours.
Step 3: The Technical Details of Starting a Ministry
If you’re not already a business owner probably one of the most intimidating aspects when learning how to start a ministry is the technical details. Things like the name of your ministry, registering for a business name, domain name, preparing taxes, etc. can seem like monumental tasks to tackle.
While every ministry is different and God might lead you to another step before this one, I think this is a good time to start thinking about this stuff. The reason being that when you get to some of the following steps it would be helpful if have already nailed down these details.
I also find that (in particular) naming your ministry can really make it more real and less conceptual of an idea. So it can really help to drive you forward with the next steps.
Some other technical things you need to consider:
- Even if your ministry will be 100% non-profit, you legally need to register a business name.
- Make sure the name you choose for your ministry is available as a business name and a website domain name.
- A website and online presence isn’t mandatory of course, but it can greatly increase your reach.
- Although it adds to your costs, outsourcing for things outside of your skill-set (like business registration, tax preparation, graphic design, and web design) can help reduce your stress and make things go more smoothly.
Starting a Ministry Legalities Checklist:
Here is a handy checklist with some of the bare basics you need to make sure you cover when it comes to the technical details of starting a ministry. Download the handy printable checklist that we’ve created for all the steps to starting a ministry for free here.
Choose a name for your ministry
Before you can move on to the next steps in this checklist, you will need to first choose a name for your ministry. All the other steps in this list hinge on this decision. However, before making a quick or hasty decision, pray about this A LOT. Allow God to lead you to just the right name in His timing, not yours.
Check business name availability
Once you have chosen a name, check if it’s available to register as a business name. This is a per-state thing. You can search Google to find the right place to check for your state. Or you can also check it for free on LegalZoom or MyCorporation.
This doesn’t have to be a make or break thing. But if an online presence is important to you for this ministry then this could be a determining factor. As a web developer, maybe I’m biased, but I highly recommend making a website for your ministry a priority in this day-and-age.
This is a fairly cheap (less than $15/yr) and simple step to do. So you might as well get it completed and out of the way before proceeding to the next step.
Decide what type of business this should be
By type of business I mean LLC, S-corp, etc. You have a few different options here. Sites like LegalZoom can give you some good information. However, if you can swallow the cost then I personally think it’s worth it to ask the advice of a Christian CPA or business consultant. Before you proceed though, you will hear a lot of talk about non-profits and registering as a 501c3. However, as a Christian you should know the dangers of operating under a 501c3 status.
Legally form your business
This includes reserving your business name, registering for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), a State Tax ID, etc. As with the last step, you can of course do this through sites like LegalZoom. However, like I mentioned above, I think it’s greatly worth it to get the help of a Christian CPA or business consultant for this step. They can give you advice that a website simply can’t.
At this point you might also want to strongly consider writing up a business plan which you can present to those who you might need help from (prayer, financial, etc.). And so that you can have a good idea of your next steps.
A web host is basically the computer (server) where your website is stored. Your domain name will point to it. It’s sort of like having a physical house and then an address which points to it so you can receive mail and whatnot.
I highly recommend choosing a Christian web host because most secular website hosts tend to not care what kind of content is hosted on their servers. Which means you could end up having your website stored on the same server as garbage sites like porn and gambling.
Sites for Christ offers Christian web hosting (new customers are manually screened). However, if you don’t want to host your ministry through us, then I also have used and recommend Flockhosting, or InMotion Hosting. InMotion Hosting isn’t a Christian web host, but they do have strict policies about not allowing those garbage sites like we mentioned above on their servers.
Recruit or hire a graphic designer to design a logo for you
A great logo can go a long way to branding your ministry and giving your ministry a “look” that represents what God is trying to use the ministry for. I’m also a firm believer that you should have a logo created BEFORE moving on to the web design process. The logo will set the stage for the whole design of the website.
Recruit or hire a web designer to get your website and online presence setup
Now that you have all the other technical details worked out, it’s time to hire a web designer to build your online presence. A user-friendly, solidly designed website can do wonders for your reach and greatly grow your ministry.
When it comes to hiring a web designer for a Christian ministry in particular, I highly recommend hiring a Christian web designer. The reason being that a true brother or sister in Christ will be on board with your vision and be able to better come alongside you to help glorify God even in this technical stage. A non-Christian web designer will not get the purpose behind your ministry and it will be more difficult to stay on the same page when it comes to your mission.
Don’t Get Discouraged During This Step
That’s a lot of things to do! Plus, there is much more to consider in between all those steps and down the road even after the ministry is up and running. But don’t let this step discourage you from pushing forward. Pray that God will give you wisdom and direction even in this step. He will give you the strength and motivation you need to keep moving forward.
Step 4: Gathering Help for Your Ministry
Now that you have the technical details of starting a ministry out of the way, you can begin to consider finding help (if needed) for your ministry. There are lots of things that you might need help with and your Christian brethren are there to help!
What kinds of things will you need help with?
There are all sorts of things you might need to recruit help for. Here are just a few to consider:
Never underestimate the power of prayer! Simply asking your friends, family, and local fellowship to pray for you can help so much. You can even pray that God will lead you to prayer partners and supporters.
This one is a little tougher because asking for financial support can sometimes feel…well, icky! Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily HAVE to ask for this kind of support. I believe that God will lead these kinds of supporters to you if you have faith. However, asking your local Church fellowship at the very least might be a good place to start if you really need this type of support to get started.
Talent in Various Areas
Like I discussed above, you might need to get outside support for things outside of your skill set. If you have a Christian friend who is a web designer, or a Christian relative who is a CPA then consider asking them for help in these areas. There are many areas you might find yourself needing to seek help for. Whether you find volunteers or have to hire someone for these things, there’s nothing wrong with getting help here.
Word of Mouth
Another area you might need help with is to simply ask people to spread the word about your ministry. Now that you have your website up and running, you can have them point people to the website to get more information, and possibly even make a donation.
Of course, there will be more areas you might find yourself needing to gather help for. Just be sure to let God lead you and ask Him about those who cross your path. Don’t take free help lightly simply because it’s free. Make sure God wants that particular person to be apart of this ministry.
Let’s not forget that God warns us that there will be those who are wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15, Romans 16:17-19). Which means we have to lean into God even for this step because He is the one who knows His sheep (John 10:14) and as long as you lean into Him, He will not allow any wolves to sabotage the ministry.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
Step 5: Finding Startup Funds
Like I mentioned in the last step, finding financial support when starting a ministry can feel like such a hard step. If you’re anything like me, asking for this kind of support can feel a little off-putting. I can’t stress enough what I stressed above. If you simply pray and have faith, God will lead you to this kind of support.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that God WON’T lead you to ask. Depending on the ministry, you might absolutely need this type of support to even get started. But don’t let yourself get discouraged. Let God work it out in His timing. And if He so leads you, here are a few ideas to find the startup funds you might need:
- Ask your local Church fellowship
- Ask your friends and family members
- Raise funds by having a garage sale (Spring cleaning!)
- Raise funds by making and selling something (online, at craft shows, etc.)
- Put a donation page on your website
- Have a splash page on your ministry website which explains you are raising funds to be able to get started
- Ask local businesses if they would like to support you
These are just a few ideas, download our free printable checklist for even more ministry startup fundraising ideas. Perhaps you can think of even more ideas too. There’s a fine balance here between trusting in God for your provision and not getting lazy, but working hard for this ministry God is calling you to.
Step 6: Getting the Word Out There
No matter what ministry you’re looking to start, spreading the word about it is going to be a vital step. Because the very word “ministry” is derived from “minister”. Which means you are intending to administer to the needs of a group of people through this ministry. So people are a must!
There are lots of ways to get the word about your ministry out there. Some are free, and some cost money. But there are no shortage of ways to spread the word. Here are just a few ideas to get you going. As with all the other steps in this process, it’s vital that you lean into God and pray about this. He will lead you in what to do here.
- Ask friends and family to share the website with others.
- Post about the ministry on your Facebook or other social media profiles. Ask people to share.
- Make up business cards that you can hand out at restaurants and wherever you go.
- Create social media accounts for your ministry (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and use them to spread the word.
- Take out an advertisement in your local newspaper.
- Share the ministry with your local church fellowship, advertise it in their newsletter if they have one.
- Get your ministry listed in Christian-based directories online.
- Make up t-shirts and/or bumper stickers that you, your friends, and family can use to advertise.
- Optimize your website for a keyword which help you rank in the search engines.
- Advertise online via Google Adwords, Facebook, Twitter, and/or other Christian ad networks.
These are just ten ideas, but I’m sure that with prayer you will think of even more! Just keep telling people and keep working hard to do what God is leading you to do with this ministry.
Step 7: Keeping God’s Will First and Foremost
I wanted to save this step for last because it’s the most important. It’s also an ongoing step which doesn’t just apply to starting a ministry, but also maintaining a ministry. The world will distract you. You might love the business side of running a ministry to the point where God’s will becomes a blurry concept. This can happen so easily. As humans we are very susceptible to allowing our flesh to rule.
But when you have a ministry that God has led you to, as soon as you step outside of His will for it. Or as soon as you start giving yourself the glory instead of Him, the anointing that you might have had on it will be gone. Remember though all your successes and triumphs that it’s God who is blessing the ministry and it’s God who needs to remain the priority.
This takes a lot of prayer. You’ll notice that in every step above I mentioned praying. That’s because this is something you need to do every step of the way when starting a ministry AND when running a ministry on a day-to-day basis. As with any other work we do, when starting a ministry you are going to work for God. Which means that you need to keep His will above your own at all times.
Conclusion on How to Start a Ministry
I hope you will be encouraged by these steps to move forward. There is a lot to do when starting a ministry. But, the good news is that you aren’t alone! Things may seem impossible with so much to do. However, remember what Jesus tells us:
“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26