Monday, February 16, 2015

Building Good Relationships Between Church Plants and Sponsoring Churches

In my role as a church planting missionary, I encourage existing churches to sponsor new churches in nearby communities. The goal is to produce healthy communities of faith in areas underserved by vibrant churches. For this to work out well there must be a meaningful relationship between the sponsoring church and the daughter church. A great way to view this relationship is to use the analogy of parents raising children. Parents provide for and protect their young while teaching them to make good choices and develop into responsible adults. There are always some disagreements along the way, perhaps even strong ones, but when done correctly, it is a beautiful experience for all involved. The same is true in regards to relationships existing churches and daughter churches.

One of the most essential keys to healthy relationships between sponsor churches and their missions is good communication. The pastors of the two groups should meet often for prayer, encouragement, and planning. In many cases this will be weekly, or bi-weekly, especially at first. As time passes, it might shift to monthly, but rarely will a great relationship be maintained with less than that. Though it is possible to do this via phone or Skype when schedules get busy, face to face meetings are always preferred.

In addition to good communication between the leaders, the rest of the congregation must understanding the vision and purpose of the new congregation. This can be done in a variety of ways but often includes the pastor of the new church making presentations to the existing church about the plans, timetables and focus of the new work. It may also include the mission pastor preaching several times in the mother church before starting services in the new church. The goal is for the existing church to be fully committed to the new work.

There are times when the new church will share a facility with an existing church. This is particularly likely when there is a language or cultural group in the same town as the sponsoring church, but for which the sponsoring church is not equipped to reach. For example, if the existing church is Spanish speaking but is concerned about the lack of churches that offer services in Creole, they may start a Haitian congregation and allow it to use their building so that two completely different congregations are utilizing the same facility. When a building is shared, communication becomes even more important. Scheduling of rooms, sharing of the cost of utilities, sharing of volunteers for cleaning the building or having workdays to maintain the building all require good communication between the two congregations. Each group will have to accept some level of inconvenience in order for the other group to be effective, but good communication will allow both bodies to accomplish their mission.

Even when a building is not shared, there will almost certainly be some sharing of finances. Often the sponsoring church provides a significant portion of the new church's income, especially in the first few months. They may even handle the money, keep the books and sign the checks, all depending on the situation and what kind of leaders God brings to the new church. Good communication is needed to work out the logistics of this, but it can be an amazing picture of the body of Christ when diverse people pool their resources for kingdom expansion.

Many church planters say that the most important part of their relationship with their sponsoring church is the friendships forged between the leaders and the members of each congregation. Those friendships often endure long after the new church has become self-sustaining and the formal sponsorship has ended.

Sponsoring a new church is a lot work, but many pastors can attest that it is also a faith growing and vision stretching time in the life of the sponsoring church. If you are interested in sponsoring a church, contact the leadership in your denomination. If your denomination is not involved in church planting, or your church is not connected to a denomination, you can still be involved in church planting by becoming a partner church with someone else’s church plant. Many sponsoring churches are not able to handle everything for their daughter church. That creates room for other churches to help in smaller, but significant ways. As churches work together, new communities of faith are planted and lost people come to faith in Christ. It sounds very much like the New Testament!

Terry Dorsett has been a church planter and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. Find all of his books at:

1 comment:

  1. You have such an interesting blog. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading your posts. All the best for your future blogging journey.