‘Accountability’ is a popular word in our culture. Good stewardship is both biblical and practical. But in the context of church planting, we know the planter must be “above reproach” when it comes to how he handles both his personal finances and the finances of the church plant. Here are five ways to help ensure financial accountability.
1. Pray for the planter.
Pray for wisdom and discernment regarding their finances. Pray for them to be open about their finances and their needs. Pray for them to be surrounded by good leadership that will help give biblical financial oversight to the church plant. Pray that God will provide for all their needs as they share the gospel, make disciples, and lead others to do the same.
Do you have a regular rhythm of praying about finances and praying for church planters?
2. Look at how finances have been handled in the past.
It has been said that past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior. The parable of the talents reminds us that we are accountable to God for how we use the resources He has given us.
Has the planter demonstrated biblical wisdom regarding his level of personal debt, such as consumer debt or student loans? Has the planter shown he can make responsible buying decisions?
3. Take advantage of financial planning tools.
Don’t just recommend but expect the church planter to use on-line tools such as the Planting Projector (plantingprojector.com). Before he builds a budget for the church plant, make sure he has built a personal budget as well.
Does the church plant budget show that the planter understands the community they are trying to reach? Does the church plant budget show that the planter understands the needs of this particular church plant?
4. Help him plan for the long term.
According to the Acts 29 Network, it takes an average of 5.8 years for a church in North America to become financially self-supporting. Most churches will partner with a planter for three years. The sending church should consider financial support for longer, until the plant becomes self-sustaining. The planter does not want to raise too much support in the early stages, knowing that it takes several years to become financially stable. We also know that helping new believers grow in generosity takes time.
Are you personally willing to invest in the kingdom work of church planting? Is your church willing to invest for the long-term in church planting?
5. Ask for regular financial updates and reports.
Whether you are the sending church or a partner church, set the expectation up front that you will require regular financial updates and yearly financial reports. Make sure the planter not only shares the “numbers” but also the stories of what is happening with the church plant. Make sure the church plant budget includes regular giving back to the Cooperative Program.
Are you willing to hold the planter accountable for regular financial reporting? Will you make it a priority to keep the needs of the church plant visible to your church?
We know from the Scriptures that Jesus taught about money, stewardship, and generosity. So financial accountability is important. We know that planting churches requires long-term investment by the sending church along with other partner churches. So be prepared to prioritize your budget to support planting. Most of all pray for church planters as they share the gospel and make disciples for the glory of God.
Published January 22, 2018