I pastor a church in Denver that would be considered ‘established’ (founded in 1960). Even though our church was a plant from another area church, we are far removed from being a church plant.
Yet, what’s exciting is connecting with a church plant. Many times, when churches connect to help with church plants, the idea is to connect with money and prayer–which are critical! Through prayer, God will reveal other ways to tangibly help church plants. Here are some.
- Provide books for the lead guys every month. Likely, church planters are on a shoestring budget personally. While many established churches provide a line-item in their budget for pastors to purchase books for their library, this is not possible for most church plants and planters. Spurgeon alluded to how carpenters have tools, so too pastors have books. Find out what books they need for their library, often one book per month (at least): commentaries, reference books, pastoral/leadership books, etc. And make sure these books are substantial and last, not simply the latest growth gimmick–those fads pass.
- Provide actual tools and people to help them reach their area. What a joy it was in Kentucky for some of our folks to go to Hazard, Kentucky to go and help a church we supported to help them connect with folks at a local festival. What a joy it was to have our people help a church plant here in Denver to pass out flyers to their neighborhood introducing a new work. What a joy to lend a grill for a soccer camp this church plant held so they could feed the 40 kids that showed up. Be present!
- If you go out to eat with them or take them to some other fun event, never, ever let the church planters pay for you. Again, back to the shoestring budget. Church planters sacrifice much in order to establish a gospel presence in a particular setting. Many times, teams come in to help. If you are one of these teams and you go out to eat or some other venture, don’t let them pay for a thing. If you wish to truly minister and serve, then make sure this part is under that serving umbrella.
- Put together videos or Skype saying hello and encouraging them. Personal touches are ideal, but this is the next best thing. If we’re a church plant in Colorado and are partners with a church in Vermont or North Carolina or Florida, weekly ‘touches’ aren’t possible, but monthly or bi-monthly videos are possible. Right now, I’m uploading a video to pastors in Trinidad in preparation for our time together in September. One time soon, we shall Skype together. Hearing from partners personally, seeing faces and hearing tone, fills hearts greatly and encourages them for the work. Plus, it’s an avenue to show the church body those people who make up that partnership.
- Pray that someone from your church may go and become a permanent part of that body. This is radical, but necessary. The partnership may evolve into someone from Vermont, North Carolina, or Florida feeling the call to uproot and re-root to that new church to help them make more hopeful, joyful disciples of Jesus. The Great Commission takes many forms!
What other ways could established churches help their church planter partners?