One of my greatest fears and hesitations in entering into the whole realm of church planting was raising money. But over time, it has become less of a fear and more of an adventure. Of course what adventure doesn’t involve some fear, right? It would then become a romantic comedy! And I don’t think that life is supposed to be a “rom-com (I like that designation better).” Anyhow, here are some initial thoughts after a little less than a month of support raising.
1.) Cheerful giving. Paul reminds us that God is honored with cheerful giving (II Cor 9:7). So I’m thinking that’s probably a good standard for fundraisers to follow. So far, everyone who has committed money to the West Bradenton Project has done so cheerfully. Either that, or they are very good actors; but I will go with the former rather than the latter. Needless to say, I’m not resorting to Jerry McGuire “show me the money” tactics. I pray every day for God to show me the cheerful giver.
2.) Church planting is not the only thing worth giving to. My passion is church planting, and I agree with Tim Keller and many other missiologists like Ed Stetzer (yes there are such folks who study missions/church planting and have PHD’s), that church planting is the most effective way to reach non-Christians and impact a city. However, throughout this process, I’ve been reminded of other equally worthy recipients such as missionaries and campus ministries like R.U.F. God gives different people different passions, and he gives people a heart and opportunity to financially partner with folks who share those same passions. And I’m obviously very glad for those supporting foreign missions and campus ministries, regardless of how it limits giving to our church plant.
3.) It’s hard to ask people to do what you’re not willing to do yourself. I felt weird about asking folks to give to our church plant if I were not giving to church planting (in another words-money that would not help me directly). I needed to put my money where my mouth was. If my heart is really into church planting, I need to be giving as well as going. And since money reveals what is important in our lives, we’ve gladly started giving to a dear friend laboring in the Boston area.
4.) If you are involved with/giving to a local church (which at one time was a church plant), it is important to realize that other folks first had to give in order for you to be able to give. In other words, many people who would never personally benefit from your church joyfully sacrificed so that you and others could hear the gospel preached each week. And that is a beautiful act of love: giving that only benefits others. The same act of love happens with foreign missions giving and campus ministries. But missionaries and campus ministers know that they are there BECAUSE others have given to them. And those being ministered to don’t usually give (can you blame poor college students and indigenous unbelievers!). But I doubt this same type of thinking is as prevalent in the membership/visitorship of a local church-and I can see why since the person in the “pew” is giving and didn’t ask for money! Yet their very presence and opportunity to give/tithe in a church plant/former church plant is only made possible because people, whom they will never meet until heaven, have loved them enough to pray and give. Others have first given to a distant church so that they can give to their local church. Those who recognize they are recipients of such prior gracious giving often want to give to church planting. At least that has been my experience so far at Redeemer. No one has said, “Well I think its silly to give to church planting,” because they recognize many gracious people before them didn’t think like that.
5.) Churches recently planted tend to give to plant churches. An old established church, Scherer Memorial in South Carolina, gave a good bit of money to help plant Redeemer in Hurricane, WV. After having funded a church in Morgantown, WV, Redeemer will now help us start our church in Bradenton, FL. How cool is that? Paying it forward across state lines. Recently planted churches remember that they were once supported and because so, want to support others. If you want to go back even father, consider that an old established church in South Carolina, has really had a hand in planting two churches in WV and one in FL. Even cooler. And when the West Bradenton Project (not our final name) gets going, we’ll be funding church planting as well. Probably in FL, but if I have an assistant from WV, then we’ll send some dough up this way for sure.
These are just some preliminary thoughts, and this post is already probably too long…Thanks for making it this far if you did.