You’ve probably been in a meeting or a conversation with someone who seemed to have something else on his mind. There’s a distant look in his eyes and it’s clear that he’s not really engaged or interested in what’s happening around him.
Spend time around the typical church planter, and you are likely to notice the same vacant stare at times. There are many things to distract a planter—he’s got sermons to preach, meetings to lead and people to deal with. These challenges are compounded by the fact that every planter is also a sinner, so there’s no shortage of fears and failures that he must face as well. One factor can rise above all the rest and constantly weigh on a pastor’s mind. Money.
Most are scared to admit how much they think about finances—both the financial stability of their family and the survivability of the church they are planting. To talk about fears related to money is to admit a lack of faith or to show a worldly heart, right?
Money is a reality for every church planter. Regardless of the planting philosophy, there are financial realities that must be addressed for the church to develop, grow and thrive. If the planter is not honest about these financial issues, far more deadly consequences can result. The planter may be tempted to make foolish decisions based on finances alone. They may manipulate others or fail to take risks because of the perceived implications to the finances of the church.
At home, the family of the planter might suffer. Thinking they are suffering for Christ’s sake, the needs of the home may not be met because the planter failed to make wise financial decisions. The spiritual vitality of the family may suffer greatly.
Finally, the pressure caused by inadequate financial planning may fan the flame of sin the life of the planter. Limited accountability in a church plant have made it possible for more than a fair share of planters to harm their integrity or ruin their ministries because they mishandled money.
The major themes found in the book of Proverbs provide guidance for how a planter should approach the issue of money.
1. Seek wisdom.
Ask God to give you insight regarding the financial plan for your church's growth and to guide you to the best plan for securing the money needed to plant well.
2. Develop a plan.
Planning is not an enemy to biblical faith. You can trust God deeply to meet your needs, while also working to develop a strategy for raising support and growing the financial base of your church.
3. Guard against pride.
At the heat of both financial sin and a failure to seek wisdom is pride that keeps others, and the accountability they bring, at a distance. Humble yourself, and admit how much you have to learn and how much you need others in your life.
4. Make wise decisions.
Each move you make heightens or lessens the financial pressure of the church. The decisions to plant bi-vocationally, raise support, buy land, rent a building, buy an expensive sound system and hundreds of others factors, shape your financial realities. Make these decisions with concern for how each move will affect the overall financial health of the church.
5. Take responsibility for what’s yours.
Your family is your first priority, and it’s imperative you care for their needs. Do whatever is necessary to develop a planting plan that will meet the financial needs of those who are called to care for at home.
6. Find godly counsel.
Don’t go at it alone. Glean from the wisdom of skillful practitioners who have navigated the financial challenges of planting. Find out what they did well and follow their example. This is why we’ve constructed a series of blogs designed to provide counsel in money matters for church planters. Our prayer is that the wisdom provided in this and the following blogs in this series will protect you from harm and propel your church to missionary effectiveness.