Continuing with this topic with regard to church planting and pioneer ministry:
One of the worst situations I happen across is those people who are doing pioneer ministry or church planting because, almost always, what I find is a bunch of people who complain that 'the Church' should be paying for everything and that it is unfair to expect them to raise money from the new body of believers that they are raising up.
And of course they are wrong - regardless of what or how - wrong, wrong (and once more for emphasis), wrong!
My big black book tells me that where my treasure is also where my heart will be!
Experience with church (and many other groups which people join) tells me that where people put their heart, passion and belong is the place where they put their treasure to support it.
A church plant has to have a some well-defined goals which lead them into being:
a sacramental body where bread and bath are an important part of its being,
a Bible believing, orthodox faith regardless of the setting it is in,
a Christ-centred, Trinitarian body which, in company with the Son worships the Father through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit,
a place where sound, grounded and inculturated preaching, teaching and discipleship can be found,
a welcoming, inclusive* and pastorally sensitive (and able) place where all are 'family',
a body that joins with others congregations in partnership and shared mission (so many appear to want to be 'special' and remain apart from the body that planted it - it is a plant not a split!), and
a body that pays its way and supports itself (with the desire to be able to support others at some stage).
So many people tell me that they don't have enough people to pay and that asking them to cover the costs of what goes on is a deterrent when it comes to growth. Now I support this view and think that we need to accept that planting a church is indeed a costly affair. Those who send also have to fund (and some will argue that providing a paid for minister is enough evidence of that) and this means that there has to be some casting of the sending church's bread upon the water
the goal and (more importantly) desire has to be that the body becomes self-sustaining and mature. That the new church (that's the people) sees converts come through to maturity and become leaders and in time bring more converts - not to satisfy a desire for numbers but because they want to share the Good News and see people released into the true freedom that being a person of faith (and that faith looking to Christ and the Cross) brings.
We all have to balance our books - we all have to pay for our gas, electric, water, parish share, toilet rolls and other stuff - especially tea )which reminds me that it must be time for a final cuppa before I head out for a wonderfully full day of ministry and madness.
Happy New Year and for all those teachers out there - enjoy the new term and be of good cheer for Easter's coming!