Financially supporting missionaries and church planters is a centuries old practice in Jesus’ church. Even now, virtually all healthy churches and committed Christians dedicate a portion of their income to the spread of the Gospel. Congregationally speaking, the benefits of supporting a new church far outweigh the costs. The church where I am a member, for example, gives a hearty portion of our income to support church planters. I’ll admit at times it’s difficult to allocate so much to other churches when we have real “needs” in our own congregation, but we’ve seen clearly that the more we have extended ourselves to prioritize Kingdom growth the better off we are as a people.
Benefits of Sending
We’ve come to the simple conclusion that it’s impossible to out-give God. You may be thinking, “Sure, I’ve heard this shtick before” but let me share with you some very real benefits associated with financially supporting new churches.
Gospel Priority– The struggle to restrict spending on our own preferences and allocate generous portions for establishment of other churches is good for the soul of our church. It’s an act of corporate worship. Just as personal sacrifices of generosity benefit the Christian soul, corporate sacrifices benefit the soul of a congregation. When a church gives away resources for the spread of the gospel it’s essentially saying, “The gospel is more valuable to us than our comfort”.
Relational Accessibility – Financially supporting a particular church planting family will personalize the mission. When we lead our churches to support entities and organizations (which is a good thing) we sometimes miss the privilege of knowing personally the individuals we are supporting.
Provision from God– The scriptural principal, “Give and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38) is as applicable to churches as it is to individuals. When your church gives sacrificially to help spread the gospel, your congregation will experience unexpected blessings from the hand of God. This will build faith in your congregation and war against the common predisposition to expand the unseen kingdom God by means that are anticipated and explainable.
Advice for Sending Churches:
As important as it is for you to give generously and sacrificially to spread the gospel, it is equally important that you do what you can to insure the money your giving is being put to good use. With this in mind let me share a few pieces of advice about supporting new churches.
Require Fiscal Transparency – Make sure you know who else is giving to this new church and that you have a clear picture of the new churches budget and income before deciding how much to give. If a church planter is not willing to be transparent about the giving of other individuals, churches, and entities, that should caution you from supporting them.
Manage Expectations – Be sure your expectations for communication, accountability and success are clearly understood before making a commitment to support the new church. Write a simple covenant so that the expectations are clear and frustration is avoided.
Meet Regularly – If your church planter is local ask them to give a report at your monthly leaders or members meeting. Invite him to preach for you or simply set up a time to meet for coffee with some regularity. The more you know about what’s going on in this new church the better. If your church planter is distant, budget some money to bring them in at least annually and utilize technology to get some face time with them regularly.
Devise an Exit Strategy– I have a friend named Alex who’s incredibly hospitable. He and his wife virtually always have someone living with them. Alex is quick to invite people in but has one steadfast rule for those he hosts, “everyone has an exit strategy”. That’s a good rule for you to latch onto if you’re gong to lead your church to support church planters. Projects are always more expensive, difficult and laborious than expected so a clear exit strategy will motivate the churches you plant to work to achieve fiscal independence within a reasonable window of time.
Projects are always more expensive, difficult and laborious than expected so a clear exit strategy will motivate the churches you plant to work to achieve fiscal independence within a reasonable window of time.
The English writer and theologian G.K. Chesterton is known to have said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly at first” and I think that’s good advice for churches getting started in church planting. Like any new skill, you’ll learn how to do it better the longer you do it so embrace the process of learning for little you do as a church will have as much lasting significance as planting new churches.
Published November 3, 2015