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Get Your Church Ready to Borrow

Charity Kuehn,

May 15, 2014

Community Commitment


God has blessed you and your church family with many, many gifts. You have been good stewards of those blessings, but the world isn’t the same as it used to be. Growth is expensive and requires you to have good financial partners who will help to guide you through the challenges of that growth.

As the Assistant Vice President of Church Financing at Union Bank, I want to share with you some important points you will need to consider as you prepare to request a loan from a financial institution. Union Bank’s Church financing area lends all over the United States, with a strong focus on the Central and Midwest parts of the country. I have worked with many different denominations and in cities with varying economic circumstances. There is always a common thread among church loans that are successfully approved: preparation.

You will find out that I am a pretty open person and I intend to be very candid about what a financial institution is truly evaluating. There should really be no secrets between the bank and the church as you go through this process together. As the borrower, you need to fully understand what your bank is weighing in their decision.


Making a commitment to borrow funds requires some documentation to be gathered for review by your board and your lender. You will need to have your church’s Articles and By-laws available to include with your loan request. Because board members and signers often change for a church, it is a good idea to provide documentation showing who exactly can make the decision to borrow and that the church board has approved the church to make a borrowing request. Having this documentation up-front will show your lender that you are organized, prepared  and that the process to put loan documents together will be smooth.

In essence, you want your lender to want to join your church.

Church Family History

Be ready to tell your story. A powerful component to your request is being able to show the financial institution your church’s vision for your future. Provide a history of your church and include information about the church leadership and pastor. Discuss in your summary of the church the future growth plans in detail. Explain why you feel you will grow, what audience you are targeting in your growth efforts, the tools you are using to reach them and what success or trends you have so far. In essence, you want your lender to want to join your church. Share your passion.

Campaign for Pledges

As a church, you need to be comfortable and committed to a growth project in every way. A successful fund raising campaign can be solid proof of this commitment. Provide as much detailed information about the commitments you have as well as the funds you have received as you can. I suggest a detailed report of each pledge, how much has been received so far and what is left to collect. Also showing your anticipated timeline for receiving the funds is helpful for your lender to see how much you will likely need over the course of the project. For any financial institution that truly committed to church financing, they will understand the power of a great campaign and not discount or dismiss it.


Presenting finances that have an accountant’s credibility behind them will give you a tremendous boost in the eyes of your lender. No matter what bank or financial institution you work with, they are going to want to see your church’s financial history. Many times the way a church handles their financials today is the same as it was when the church began 10 or 15 or sometimes even 40 years ago. When you started your church and there were only a few members, your accounting system was simple and easy to explain to the membership and the board. When you ask a bank to decipher your “system,” it can limit the number of financial institutions willing to consider your request. I, personally, love to get the financials from a new church, but it can often take multiple conversations in order to make sure I am giving the church a fair look because the financials are difficult to interpret. My first recommendation is to have an accountant do a full review of your finances BEFORE you make your request for financing. Any church with an annual giving budget of more than $350,000 per year should consider getting a professional involved on an annual basis. If nothing else, an accountant can compile your financials into a format that will be more easily presented in a loan request.

Know your numbers

There are a few key ratios most financial institutions will evaluate as they look at your request. Here are a couple of benchmarks that I use at Union Bank to do an initial evaluation of a loan request.

  • Is the loan request less than 4x the annual contributions?
  • Does the annual loan payment stay below $600 per giving unit (a giving unit is an individual or family in your church who gives on a regular basis)
  • Does the average annual amount giving by each giving unit exceed $1200? (exceeding in this case is good)
  • Is the annual debt payment less than 30% of total gross revenue of the church?

These numbers can give you a good idea of where you will stand on first glance with a financial institution. If you are far outside of any of these ratios, it is a good idea to analyze why that may be and do one of two things.

  1. 1. You can either adjust your project to be more in line with what a lender will find acceptable.

  2. 2. Prepare a strong argument about how the risk of being outside of that ratio can be mitigated. Knowing where your weaker points are before you put your request out for review not only   helps you understand what challenges you have, but may also bring to light some areas that should be re-evaluated.


Ask the important questions of your financial institution.

  • Do they understand churches and their needs?
  • Are they willing to truly listen to you?
  • Does the individual you are working with seem interested in only the transaction or do they want to be a part of your financial team?

Knowing these answers can help guide you to the right financial institution for your church. A good church lender knows that not every project is ready for approval from the moment you meet. Many projects take time and effort to get the church and the project to the point that it makes sense for them. The right lender is willing to take that time to walk side by side with you as you are guided by God toward what is best for your church.

I wish everyone who is beginning this journey my very best. If I can be a resource for you don’t hesitate to contact me. I am always glad to simply discuss and brainstorm.


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Hi.I am john from malaysia would like to ask whether our church can apply loan from your bank to buy a piece of land in sandakan town sabah to build our own church..tq.

We have approximately 35 members and are a 501c3 church. We have an accepted contract to purchase a former 2612 square foot dentist office for $48,000. Is this loan/ministry fit your loan parameters. We are located in Ohio. The problem we are encountering is the loan amount. It is too small for many lenders including the bank we use for 12 years. There was a financial institution willing but the closing costs and brokerage fees were more than $10,000 for a 48k loan. thank you for your consideration.

where can i get the form?

Hi Simon, thanks for posting. You can find calculators and other resources for church financing here:

My name is Rev James T Spears, Pastor of the Amazing Grace Christian Fellowship Church
Our church is trying to get financing to rebuild our church that was destroyed in the great flood of 2016 in Baker, La
Graciously weve received an approval from SBA but it does not cover the total amount needed to complete the rebuilding of our church.
We would love to schedule a meeting with you to discuss what options you may have to help us get finance.
Thank you kindly for you attention in this matter
We Look forward to hearing from you
Pastor, Rev James T Spears

Our church is looking for a loan. We actually need a help, because we been renting from place to place and we need to get a place for worship.

I have been presented with an opportunity to purchase the former ministry I served in for 12 years. Will my qualification for a loan depend upon the churches current financial state or my own? I have very good personal income and good credit score. How will all of this if any factor in?
Thank you,

My name is Rev Dr Frederic Cheriscat, Pastor of L'Eglise Baptiste Eben-Ezer, Inc./Eben-Ezer Baptist Church of Irvington New Jersey. Our church is trying to get financing to rebuild our sanctuary and have more rooms to expand our ministry. It is hard for us to have finance by a bank. We want to know is there any opportunity for you to help us? The project is about $800,000.00 and we already have $400,000.00.
We already received an approval from the City of Irvington. We just someone or an institution to support us in this project.
Thank you in advance

Hi, Neat post. There is a problem together with your website in web explorer,
could check this? IE still is the market leader and a good portion of people will pass
over your wonderful writing because of this problem.

Hi Deneen, in order to maintain a high level of security, our website is not supported on outdated versions of browsers. For a listing of our supported browsers, you can visit this page:

i need money

Kibolgong Church is writing this letter to make application to borrow Ksh. 0.3Million for church building at Cheptagum Church in Kenya.
Kibolgong Church members have collected Ksh.0.6Million for the church.
Kindly consider our application.
Alexander Biy

I am trying to determine how financial institutions calculate the ratios for lending to churches. I been told that they want giving units from 150 up to 250 to qualify for a loan.

This blog article is for informational purposes only, and is not an advertisement for a product or service. The accuracy and completeness is not guaranteed and does not constitute legal or tax advice. Please consult with your own tax, legal, and financial advisors.