Barriers and blessings of doing ministry without a lot of money
Replants typically do not have a lot of money. I know this first hand from my time as a Replanter. And while ministry requires money, there are ways to keep moving forward even with meager resources. In fact, the lack of resources presents many opportunities to clarify convictions and to further lead your congregation toward biblical faithfulness. Here are some barriers I’ve experienced as a Replant pastor
The Distraction of church buildings
One of the largest burdens many congregations face are their aging buildings. In many ways, these buildings are a distraction to ministry because already limited resources (particularly time and money) must be diverted to maintain or repair these facilities. However, we must remember those who sacrificed much in order to build these buildings. We should be thankful to God for their sacrifices and honor them by stewarding these properties through proper maintenance. While building repairs may be a distraction to many, including myself, they cannot be ignored. Ignoring necessary repairs will only further exacerbate the problem and create an even bigger headache. Therefore, as leaders we must assess the needs and then think strategically how to address those needs. Most pastors I know have no idea about building maintenance or repair; therefore, asking for help is essential. Pastors must raise up men and women who can share these burdens as well as look for other churches who can partner with them to help in their building needs.
The Challenge of the lone pastorate
Many times, when churches struggle financially the first place they cut is the pastor’s salary. Especially with the rising cost of healthcare, churches are becoming increasingly burdened to pay their pastors well. As a result of these reductions, pastors have also become burdened, even distracted, by their own personal finances. Even when church can adequately support a pastor, often times he is serving as the lone pastor. This leads to a larger share of the ministry burden. These circumstances allow an opportunity for the pastor to teach the congregation about biblical leadership. In Ephesians 4 for example, pastors are called to equip the saints for the work of ministry. It costs a pastor nothing, at least financially, to raise up leaders to help share the work of ministry. While a lack of money may be a barrier to having multiple staff, it does provide the pastor opportunity to lead his congregation toward a biblical model of an engaged and mobilized body of missionary servants.
The Struggle to care for those in need
When a congregation is struggling financially, one of the reasons may be the growing personal financial needs of the members. This can lead to the reduction of relief resources used to care for those who have needs in the body. During a season like this, the congregation can be reminded of the example of the Macedonian churches who gave generously even out of their own poverty (2 Corinthians 8). Financial challenges afford the pastor the opportunity to teach the congregation about faithfulness to love others by giving to those in need even when it seems impossible.
The Neglect of missions and evangelism
When financial resources are limited, it can feel as if we are neglecting our responsibility to get the gospel outside our four walls. This challenge provides an opportunity to teach on missions and evangelism. Often many church members have been discipled to believe that the work of evangelism and reaching the lost is something that the pastor is paid to do. When resources are scant, it provides the opportunity for pastors to clarify the biblical mandate each of us have been given to be witnesses for Christ. This also provides opportunity for churches to recognize their need to partner with others in reaching their communities. This has been the rich history of the SBC, that we believe ministry done together is better than ministry done apart. By giving to the cooperative program, churches who have little to no resources are able to help send missionaries around the world. When it comes to local evangelism, we don’t need to put on an expensive event or bring in an evangelist to preach a revival. As pastors and leaders, we are called to equip our members to share the gospel in our communities through everyday relationships. It costs a church nothing financially to raise up men and women who will take the gospel to the community and ultimately to the nations.
The Idol of self-reliance.
God will expose the idols of a congregation. One of those idols often is the idol of self-reliance. Some congregations that have abundant financial resources often become self-reliant rather than God dependent. This is not true of all, or even most, but it is common for a church to become complacent when the checking account is full and the budget is regularly met. When resources are scarce, it brings a sense of sobriety to the church and reminds us of our need for God. When financial needs arise, it moves to prayer, crying out to our heavenly Father to fulfil his promise to provide what we need. Jesus told his disciples that they could ask anything, and they would be well supplied by the Father. Financial struggles bring us to the place where we can once again trust in God alone for our daily needs and thereby kill the idol of self-reliance.
Published October 12, 2017