In my early days of church planting, I realized I needed to raise money. Ministry among the urban poor is costly and creates financial uncertainty. So I began fundraising—with minimal results. In retrospect, I believe those poor outcomes were largely due to a poor mindset. I was seeking money instead of healthy, gospel partnerships. I needed a major paradigm shift and much repentance in how I viewed funding my church plant.
Partnerships or Pocket Change?
In his brief but joy-filled letter to the Philippian church, Paul repeatedly acknowledges their beautiful partnership in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In chains and facing death, Paul thanks God for them and writes that they’re “in his heart.” He refers to them as “partners with me in grace” (Phil. 1:3–7, CSB). This epistle reads like a missionary support letter, with affection and a clear bond rooted in their connection. Theirs is not just an economic exchange but a rich, Christ-centered relationship that’s producing transformation.
The Lord worked an inward shift in me, and I began pursuing pure partnerships over pocket change. Authentic relationships in the furtherance of the gospel are greater than checks or bank orders. I repented of pursuing money for ministry detached from the context of a relationship and mutual care. I began seeking the kind of partnerships that Paul cherished with the Philippians.I began pursuing pure partnerships over pocket change. Click To Tweet
Brothers, view your current and potential partners as co-laborers instead of a means to your desired end. Lacking what we need may be due to a sinful and selfish view of partnering. I’ve been approached by church planters whose motives are abundantly clear and unhealthy. Potentially fruitful gospel partnerships can wither into barren or spoiled trees due to impure motives. For gospel partnerships to yield fruit, both sides must communicate intentions and desires honestly, be transparent, and behave in ways that bring Christ glory.
Think Small, Not Big
One major misconception within church planting is that you need a big ministry machine fueling you. Many church planters assume they must have “fill-in-the-blank” pastor or large church in their corner, and some have bought the lie that a huge presence and platform all but ensure thriving fruitfulness.
The Apostle Paul and the Macedonian church would disagree with this false dichotomy. Paul opens 2 Corinthians 8 by detailing “the grace of God that was given to the churches of Macedonia” and expressed in their giving. “For in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (2 Cor. 8:2). Their big hearts outweighed their little pockets. This financially deprived, afflicted church under duress in Macedonia burst with joy at the opportunity to give to the Lord’s work.
I know there are many Macedonian-like churches and believers today; I’ve experienced their grace first-hand. Countless disciples of Jesus—unsung, unknown, and under-resourced—are joyfully seeking opportunities to partner in gospel ministry. Our young church has shared in God’s amazing grace with many smaller churches who have partnered with us, and we continue to experience grace synergy in fruitful relationships with like-minded churches. If you desire to feel genuine love, grace, and care, build partnerships with churches and believers who live like the Macedonian church.
Stewardship vs. Stagnation
Our leadership team has a constant conversation around the important tension between good stewardship and generosity. We are called simultaneously to have bold faith, putting money behind the mission, and to faithfully steward the resources God provides. Depending on your personality, you may fall on either side of the pendulum of extremes. I’m a natural gambler—a risk-taker. I’m thankful the Lord has given me some yellow lights on my team to balance out my perpetual green light.Countless disciples of Jesus—unsung, unknown, and under-resourced—are joyfully seeking opportunities to partner in gospel ministry. Click To Tweet
For missional momentum, we need to maintain this tension. We are a small, urban church plant with limited resources. We’re still receiving outside support. However, our need tends to push us toward generosity instead of causing us to shrink back scared. I know from experience that underserved, under-resourced church planters need a greater commitment of time, energy, care, and financial support. Yes, stewardship is crucial. But we must also put our mission money where our mouth is.
Remember the Why
My brothers, remember why we seek and engage in ministry partnerships. Our aim is not notoriety, financial stability, or any self-serving motivation. The “why” behind what we are seeking is the glory of Christ. We give sacrificially to reflect the perfect charity we see in the life and death of our Savior. When we work together with other churches and believers, we display the beautiful harmony between the Lord Jesus and his bride. So let’s reclaim a biblical view of fundraising, and develop gospel partnerships to further the kingdom of Christ on earth.