As a former member of the Vineyard movement I am still on the mailing list for their church-planters magazine called "Cutting Ege". The most recent issue was 22 pages long and was entirely on the subject of "Church Planting and Money".
Having planted a church myself over 3 and a half years ago with no money, no leadership team, no building and no salary, I found their assertion that one must have a sizable financial investment to begin planting churches slightly spurious.
Here's a letter I sent to their editor on May 30th. To date I have not received a response so it's highly likely that I am no longer on their mailing list.
Thanks for the most recent issue of "Cutting Edge" Magazine.
As a church-planter myself I had to make a few observations that I believe you left out of the discussion.
Several church-planters today (like myself) have discovered that planting and growing a healthy, vibrant, disciple-making Body of Believers actually costs very little, if nothing at all.
My wife Wendy and I started our house church over 3 years ago. Our vision was to plant a church where 100% of the offering would go to the poor, just like in the New Testament. I have been working as a copywriter for a marketing agency to support my family and everyone in our house church (over 6 families and several singles) have collectively given over $15 thousand dollars to help the poor in our community and support the poor in our own Body over the last 3 years.
Our church is growing very quickly. We have about 40 people who join us in our home every Sunday morning for shared breakfast and shared teaching. We also gather on Thursday evenings for shared dinner and througout the week as well.
Your article suggests that it is a "false dualism" to pit spiritual matters against earthly matters. I wonder if it it's actually a "false ecclesiology" that tells us that without $10k and a paid pastoral staff, etc. we cannot be the Church and establish vibrant communities of faith.
How did the New Testament Christians manage to plant so many churches and make so many hundreds of thousands of disciples without all that money? I find it fascinating that they actually took their property and their money and surrendered it for the good of others rather than to horde it for themselves.
Today the downturn in the economy is adversely affecting many businesses, as you point out, but if your church is not run like a business it's amazing how the downturn has zero affect. We are free to continue giving and to plant more churches regardless of the economy.
Our house church does not pass the basket. It sits on a table in the corner of the room and only twice a year do we ever mention the offering-- and then only to read a list of ways we have used this money to help the poor in our community and within our own Body.
Even though I never make a big deal about the offering, people are giving with great joy because they know that every single penny they place in the basket will be given away to people in need. They are truly, honestly "Hilarious givers"!
We, the Body of Christ, are never referred to in the NT as anything other than a Body, a Family, a Bride and an Organism. We, the Church, are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. We do not need to build temples in order to fulfill our calling to embody Christ as living stones.
Does it really cost all that money to plant a church? Only if you abandon the New Testament model and embrace a business model.
Thanks, again, for this issue of Cutting Edge. I really do appreciate the great work you (and your staff) put into this labor of love each and every issue. Please take my comments as an alternate perspective on the subject of planting churches and money.
Mission House Church