Posted: December 17, 2010 in Pioneer Blog

I was called into the office by my our CFO and looked at the books with him. The good thing is I have dyscalculia which is like mathematical dyslexia so when I hear numbers I just blank out anyways so we could owe a million or two thousand and I just enter into “Well God is going to have to do it.” Its not helpful to everyone else though. 

I left the meeting realizing we need around twenty thousand dollars to get out of the crises we are in (this isn’t a support letter but feel free to help if you are on the winning side of pioneering ::grin::) and about two hundred thousand to really start building another level through website, getting a building space that is more permanent then renting one night here and another there, and to buy some of the equipment we need (worship teams really do need more then one monitor). I am not in despair because its all part of pioneering. Oh but did I tell you that there will always be issues while pioneering that will discourage you no matter how Spiritual you are?


Discouragement comes to a pioneer when there is not enough of something. Maybe not enough finances, friends, strategy, resources of space time, etc.
It is easy to start into an area and not realize the level of sacrifice and start up it may cost, let alone the time commitment. For us in E58, we really thought we were moving to a land of wealth and plenty in Los Angeles and within two years we would have a normal operating budget and a building. OH how I laugh now, we moved here in the recession, I used all of my savings on another ministry project before I got here so we had no cushion, the rest of the team was financially drained, the people we attracted were all getting hit by the hard times our nation was in, and buildings are a rare commodity for ministries in west LA.
At first I was hit with a lot of feelings of failure and discouragement until I got educated about our region. Like for us, 90% of church plants fail in their first two years mostly because of finances. 50% of churches fail in their first 10 years. The city of Hollywood hasn’t approved a new church as being part of the city in over 7 years. We have 15-19 percent unemployment and we have 70,000 homeless on the streets every night. The main actors guild is called SAG and only about 21% of the actors did a job in 2008 from a statistic I read online.
The other thing that I discovered in LA is that there are hardly any para church ministries. Most of this is because of financial reasons. I tip my hat to those who make it!
What we now know is that we are called to be a transforming agent and that we are breakthrough for our city before it has break through for us. That means we were going to have to gain authority by both intercession but also by loving well and getting connected to our city in a real and tangible way. We are still in process in many areas of this, but we now are seeing roots of what is causing a lot of this pain in our city, and we are beginning to move in the opposite spirit. 


As a pioneer you may not even know yet how your streams of finances are supposed to come in. One thing for sure is you are going to have to create multiple because tithing alone is not working in America (gifts are down in some places up to 60%). That means we have to create new forms of revenue that other generations of the church haven’t done yet. Yes there are several church models out there that do tithe/bookstore/conference/school model to raise a complete budget, but then there are those of us in cities like Los Angeles where the normal church models are even failing. I have had several of my good friends who are pastors of successful churches tell me how they are all but financially failing right here in LA who have great models of revenue based on what worked in the 80s and 90s. 

The hard thing is as a pioneer we are trying to find out what will work and what wont.
There is nothing more discouraging then to lose money on a project that you really felt vision for, but you know what? its going to happen from time to time. Especially when you are in start up (I hate the word start up because we have been in it again for OH SO LONG! but we all go through this). The other issue is as a pioneer you are going to have to hear from God as a group. You are going to have to try new things! You are going to have to EXPERIEMENT and it will cost you, but just like in science no break through comes without a lot of research and experimenting. If you are going to be pioneer then you are going to sacrifice time on things that don’t end up working. I have had my share of that (failed DVD project, failed Video Game, failed ministry plant), but then I have had great success (Books, travel, ministry base in LA, light entertainment projects, video game tester). 

Many millionaires have lost everything once, but then regained it back. Why? Because they took risks. Just like no one can tell you exactly how you personally can gain wealth in a model that works directly for you (although everyone tries), no one can tell you how to raise finances for your ministry. You are going to have to try some things, and you will be blessed both when they work and when they don’t because knowledge is power.


If you are pioneering in ministry and you don’t raise up a team I feel sorry for you. This is something that is a non negotiable to me, coming to LA I needed family and team to remind me who we are, what we are building, and what IS working when we have gone through the seasons where our weaknesses and failures were front and center. In pioneering I feel like you live with the obvious mistakes of your life being worn on your sleeve for the first five years (unless you are good at just dressing it up which we refuse to do). If people look at us without the spiritual eyes of love they will see our immaturity in areas and see what areas are not working yet or are weak. You need a team to help look at who Jesus is in you and call you to it.

If you are taking risks without people who are taking risks with you or are there for you in a real way then when there is failure you will take it in a way that brings personal crises every time and eventually you will break down and do something normal that requires less faith or belief in dreams. I am not saying I haven’t gotten more down to earth about my dreams, but I am still a dreamer.


Of course I have a million reasons why people don’t give but the one you have power over is growing in relationship with them to create what business calls a “Buy In” which means they feel like they are really a part of the family and ministry and that they are carrying the vision. We had one Sunday when we first started that we took an offering for our church. Then we had a missionary stand up and give a quick testimony and I took a spontaneous offering for her. The church offering was a whopping 500 dollars (we need 3000-5000 a week to survive) but her offering was 3500! Our people had the money but they weren’t giving to us. One of my leaders wives who knew the behind the scenes financial issue in this wanted to stop the church because the lack of value, but I explained that we are the ones who steward this value with God and man, and this value takes time and energy and there is no formula although there are some good resources out there.

Why will people spend 100 dollars a month on Star Bucks, 60 dollars a month on a gym they may or may not go to, 150 on internet purchases, but not tithe? Because they don’t see the benefit of what they are getting out of church. You can pound it down their throats on why its Biblical to tithe, or you can envision them and ask them through relationship and time to start to make a commitment. When peoples hearts are into something they will give. Putting the need there in front of them helps them to see why they are giving and what its for, but we can not keep people committed because of need or obligation. Eventually they have to want to give because of what God is doing in their hearts in owning the ministry. If you get these types of people they are worth their weight in gold (sometimes literally).


Finances are hard, and I will talk about them again in the future, but just know that if you are going to be a pioneer then you will take lots of risks. Some of you will never know the struggle that others have financially but one thing is for sure: we are hard pressed but not crushed in seasons. We are all at different places financially but for the most part we have this in common: we have to come up with a strategy to finance the move of God we are called to build and be proactive in it not reactive.

On that note: Become a builder financially with E58! Shameless plug


Shawn Bolz


To give a donation visit our website or paypal through or send one in (address on website). Its all tax-deductible and all that jazz.

  1. Andrea Carney says:

    Really helpful, Shawn. I’m growing like a weed thanks to your wisdom in leadership & your willingness to share it via the web. Keep it comin’ bro. You’re equipping more of us than you know.

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