Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Our Church Can't Partner" Small Church Pastor

When I talk to pastors about partnering with a church plant like ours there are several responses that are common but one that used more than any other... "We are not in a place to partner right now." When pressed about what this really means, usually one of the following two reasons are expressed:

The culture of our church is not as mission centered as we would like therefore the people in the church would likely not support partnership with a church plant at this time.


The economic situation of our church is difficult therefore the church can not afford to partner with a church plant.

I want to take a minute and address these concerns. I am not going to explore here why a church might lose sight of her mission, but I do want to talk about some ways to shift the cultural mindset through church plant partnership. Orienting a people toward a mission of serving, sharing and discipling others needs to include three basic elements: Praying, Giving and Experiencing.

Churches must be led to center their prayers on mission. The prayers of a church are a strong indication of the focus of that church. If most of the prayer requests are for people in the church rather than those the church is seeking to reach then there might be a culture problem. I certainly think that members of a church should be praying for each other and the needs within the congregation, but ask yourself... When was the last time we spent significant time praying for mission efforts in our community and around the globe? Partnering with a church plant gives the leadership of an established congregation another mission to lead the people to pray for.

People must be led to give toward mission. We have all heard it said that when you follow someone's pocketbook you will see what they value. Most churches spend 75-90% of funds on themselves--things like buildings, kids' programs and personnel. The dreaded budget season can be an effective catalyst for shifting the culture in your church. Promote partnership with a plant by saying something like... "We spend $XXXXXXXXX on ourselves every year, but this year we want to spend $XXXXXX supporting a new work in say... New Orleans. Also special offerings can be an effective way to help shift the culture in your church.

People must be led to experience mission. It is easy to give to a ministry or missionary, but in order to really shift the culture in your church your people must get face-to-face with the ministry and missionary. You need to lead them to sweat and work alongside those on the field. I have never been on a mission trip where people worked really hard did not ask on the way home: "How will this experience change the way we serve and share in our community?" Your experience with a church plant in a city where you will certainly sweat is culture-changing for your congregation.

Would I be OK with a church only sending $50-$200 a month rather than a larger amount? YES!!!

We, of course, need several larger churches to partner with us, but these are few and far between. Small church to large church ratio is like a 1000 to 1.

Thirty churches sending $100 a month versus 6 churches sending $500 a month is a much more stable situation for the new church plant. When one of our partner churches has conflict or needs to cut us out of the budget it is very easy to recover from a $100 loss. Also 30 churches potentially means more consistent hands on the ground helping us get started. It also means 30 congregations are consistently praying for us.

Bring on the small churches!!!


  1. Matt I appreciate your blog today. However coming from an "established" church guy there are some things that just are what they are.

    1. When you have buildings, they cost to maintain. Where I serve in NOLA our insurance alone is $70,000.00/year on our buildings and we're not in a low lying area. Also if you have facilities then I believe you are obligated to make them as functional and as nice as possible. I am not saying you have to go overboard with aesthetics but they should look nice. Also we are in a growth phase right now which has caused us to invest close to $180,000 in renovations so that we have adequate preschool and children's space for the amount of kids we have coming.

    2. As far as payroll, I have learned something valuable, "you pay now, or you will pay later". in other words we pay our staff well (most of them being part time, of which i am one of those) and b/c we do we have stability in our staff. I have seen churches that try to do everything on the cheap, esp with ft staff and then have a turnover rate that never allows for consistency.

    3. I put a high value on children's ministry. Once of the first things i did when I got to the church was jump the children's budget from $8,500 to $20,000. And in one year it has paid HUGE dividends. Last Sunday alone we had over 100 guests (for a church that usually runs 350) with most of them being young families with children. We have seen children come to know Christ and even parents come to know Christ b/c their kids got plugged into our children's ministry (which is very similar to the children's ministry you had at Clearview)

    Right now our church gives away, through the budget alone, 13% of what we bring in. In 2011 that percentage will most likely jump to 18% - 20% + whatever other gifts we bless others with.

    Just remember right now it is easy for you to make your argument b/c you don't have buildings to maintain and insure, staff to pay and support, and any major programming to execute. By God's grace I pray that Hope Church grows to be a thriving church in the metro area that becomes a beacon of hope (no pun intended) for the lost and for the Christ-Follower who has lost his/her way. I just wanted you to see it from an established church guy who is responsible for handling the budget. So when you get the "economic" answer just know there maybe some truth there. It cost to maintain an established church, especially one that is on mission and reaching the lost and discipling the reached.

    Journeying with you to reach NOLA,

    Corey Olivier
    Metro BCM Director - New Orlenas Metro
    Executive & Family Life Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, NOLA

  2. Hello Corey-

    Thanks for your comments. I actually had no intention in my post to argue against buildings or programs or staffing. These things are at times necessary to accomplish our mission. I am simply seeking to address the reasons many churches do not partner to church plant. I have probably spoken to 200 pastors or church leaders about partnership and about half have not really thought about the great benefits to partnership with a plant. There is a perception that church planting is all give and no return.

    Also, the two reasons I address here are not reason's I came up with be are actually reason's established churches give. These pastors recognize that over time many churches loose sight of mission and are tempted to retreat into self preservation. All of us battle this reality... church plant or established church. I am saying that church plants are earlier in the process. I believe that a plant can aid a partner church in refocusing on mission.


Thank you so much for your comments on my blog post. Feel free to come back and comment any time.