CMBA churches are encouraged to investigate grant assistance through the association as they begin to compare ministry plans for a new calendar year against an existing budget. Our One Priority Congregational Grants are available to active participating and financially contributing CMBA member and network connection churches. When approved, new grant guidelines provide access to financial resources gifted to CMBA for churches engaging in efforts to serve as vital and vibrant missional communities.
“I am excited we can offer these grants. We hope they will be used to stimulate Great Commission and Great Commandment efforts. We will rejoice when our congregations use these funds to thrive and soar with faith,” says Executive Director George Bullard.
What church ministries qualify for grant assistance? The variety of possible grant projects has grown, thanks to approval for expansion given last fall by the Visionary Leadership Community (VLC). Many churches place grant requests that are similar in nature, such as for community impact efforts for which they need start-up money or matching funds. Another example is for food or other commodities for hunger ministry through pantries or other active organizations such as Heart4Schools.
In late 2020, grant funds helped Round Hill Baptist to rent a special tractor to unload food deliveries from an 18-wheeler that were then distributed to multiple churches in CMBA. Cathy Locklear, our Ministry Mobilizer for Community Impact, helped secure these funds and recruited the churches who would receive the funds.
Grant funds are available for a wide variety of ministry needs, including:
- Training for a pastor of a new congregational expression or replant, such as JayWill Wilson, who completed ACTS 29 training with Riverside Community Church and is in the process of planting City of Refuge Church. CMBA is praying for a partner sponsoring church to continue the support of this new congregational expression.
- Radical revitalization efforts by existing congregations. CMBA staff are currently working with several unthriving churches, praying for clear revitalization plans to be established so that committed churches could receive grant funding and/or match funds to finance future efforts.
- Replanting a congregation, different from “radical revitalization” in that the congregation decides to start over as an entirely new church.
- Disaster Response to assist with needs that a deployed CMBA church team might request or when one of our churches is the victim of a disaster, such as in the case of the 2015 flood.
- Leadership development for church staff teams. Many churches have been forced to eliminate continuing education funds from recent budgets, so grant money can apply to individuals or teams looking to engage in leadership development opportunities.
- Temporary housing for furloughing missionaries or new staff to a congregation. CMBA no longer owns a mission house, which was offered for these purposes but underused, so now grant money could apply toward the initial living expenses of new hire as in the case of a North Trenholm Baptist staff member.
- Scholarships for ministerial students enrolled in a Bible college or other college, university or seminary.
- Missions partnerships beyond our association, for example financial support for a church group traveling to engage in a missional project.
- Congregational stewardship or generosity efforts, such as a congregation bringing in a stewardship consultant to work with them.
- Innovative new evangelism or ministries efforts which is different from community impact ministries in that this supports a plateaued and declining church looking to engage in new ways within its context or to a community group.
- Other missional efforts as proposed. CMBA is open to discussing legitimate grant requests from churches.
How can my church access grant funds? The process is simple – interested churches should first request to be contacted by emailing CMBA@ColumbiaMetro.org. Following a conversation with CMBA staff, churches will then be directed to an online application to provide more detailed information. The CMBA staff will want to know how the funds will be used, any funds the church is putting into the same project and to verify the financial contributions of the church to the association. These grant funds come primarily from contributions made to the association over the years by member churches. Therefore, this is sharing back the funds all churches have provided with specific churches needing to fund their ministry.
How much is the grant assistance? Recommended grants are presented to the Visionary Leadership Community for approval, and the group meets 10 times per calendar year. A typical individual grant amount is $500. There is a maximum annual total of $1,200. Rarely, and only in certain situations, the VLC can go beyond the maximum based on available funds and the merit or urgency of the situation.
Do churches have any additional responsibility when they are approved for a grant? All grant money must be used by the requesting church for the stated purpose, and churches are asked to report how the funds are used and its impact on missional efforts. Occasionally churches may be invited to match approved CMBA funds when related to certain new and valuable ministry plans.
Churches that receive grants may also be contacted by the CMBA communications team. Julia Bell, CMBA communications coordinator, says sharing these stories of how God is at work through CMBA churches is “a vital part of the association’s relationship with churches. When a CMBA church utilizes these grant funds we want to spotlight their ministries and efforts to share the gospel to both celebrate the work and inspire others.”