One of the crazy goals I set for CityWell Church is to send out one new church in our first five years of existence, and 5 new churches in our first 10 years of existence. It sounds crazy to think about planting more churches when we aren’t even holding services yet, but I believe in church planting. Although we have a lot of church buildings in America, we have not been planting life-giving churches at a rate that keeps up with America’s population growth. This may be why we are seeing America move into a post-Christian era.
Unfortunately, many established churches have lost their evangelistic excitement. The average church that’s over 15 years old only sees one person come to Christ for every 100 in attendance. Churches that are 3-15 years old average 3/100, but church plants see about 10/100. That explains why around 80% of people who come to Christ did so through a church 2 years old or younger.
You may be thinking “Okay, you are making a good point on why you are planting a new church, but why should my established church support it?” That’s a great question! Let’s address it below.
We need to start by defining the word invest. You have probably taught that we give back to God through our time, talents, and treasure. Churches invest in other church plants the same way. As the pastor, you give personally of your time when you encourage, coach, and lead the planter. You also give corporately as your congregation helps do outreach under the church plant’s name. You give your talents by holding loosely to your up-and-coming leaders and sometimes by encouraging them to help launch the new ministry. You give your treasures by making substantial financial investments in a new church.
Not every church is positioned to be able to give time, talents, and treasure to church plants, but giving anything can be a huge Kingdom win for the new church and your established church!
So Why Give?
To recognize the ‘Give to Grow Principle’:
Years ago, David Earley planted a church in Los Vegas. I recently watched an interview where he discussed his church’s goal of sending out a new church every 2 years. At that point, they were running about 2,000 members, had 4 daughter churches, and others on the way. He explained that other pastors asked how they could lose 60-80 committed people every few years. He went on to say that the years they send out large groups of people God provided considerably more people to fill the holes.
Easley went on to say, “So you teach your people to give 10% of their income to God and you say ‘You can’t out-give God’…Okay pastor, now gives away 10% of your people to start a new church and see if God provides.”
I think we all have personal stories of being unable to outgive God. Stef and I have experienced seasons where every time we give we then receive a larger surprise gift, so we keep giving…That only happens in God’s economy, but the principle applies to churches as much as it does to people. Invest in a church plant and see what God does!
To plant apostolic seeds in your young leaders
If your church desires to send out church planters someday, start investing in other church planters today! Your investment communicates to your young leaders that church planting is a priority for your church. They are watching and will notice. Your investment in a church planter who has no formal ties to your church may plant seeds in them. Your investment will help them know you will invest in them also when God calls them to plant.
If you don’t know of any church planters consider partnering with a church planting network and give general gifts. But keep your eyes out because it’s easier to see and celebrate the fruit of giving to a specific ministry.
It opens the door to reaching different people in your community
The average church’s culture will only be able to reach about 40% of the people within your community. New church plants can reach a different segment of the population than your congregation. Every church has a unique culture and can reach a unique group of people. By investing in a local church plant, you open the door to a greater kingdom harvest.
To re-energize your congregation
When you invest in a church plant many of the people who call your church home will get excited. They want to see God move. They want to reach people for Christ. They love your church and will become even more excited about investing. More than any of that they will again be reminded of Christ’s call for them personally to be part of reaching the lost.
I can’t find the source now but have read that investing very heavily in a church plant can help your church see new believer rates that match a younger church’s bracket.
Getting the most out of your investment:
I want to pause here and mention that we don’t give just to get, but we recognize that God works through our giving. So, let’s talk about how to pastor your people through an investment in a church plant.
SCREAM ABOUT THE GIFT FROM THE MOUNTAIN TOPS
If you invest in a church plant make sure your congregation knows! Tell them then you give the gift. Give updates as the church plant moves along. Encourage your people individually to consider giving an offering to the church plant. Let your people know why you gave!
Consider having the church planter come and speak
In pre-launch season many church plants are available to preach at other churches. If you are investing in a church plant consider allowing them to invest in your congregation for a week. They are planting because God has given them a vision of reaching people for Christ. Let their vision overflow a little on your people.
Now maybe you are a little nervous, especially if they planting close to your church about losing people to the church plant. It’s rarely easy to have people leave your ministry, I have experienced the pain of this firsthand. I had a friend recently recommend we stop looking at people as “our sheep” and instead let Christ be the shepherd. He will assign people for you to be their under-shepherd for a season, but they are not yours. They are His. So when people leave your church for another life-giving ministry it’s not that you have done something wrong, it’s that Christ provided them a new voice to follow. Celebrate Christ speaking to them!
Regularly remind your congregation to pray for the church plant
If you have been in ministry for 15 minutes you have experienced spiritual warfare. Church planting is spiritual warfare on crack! Satan wants nothing less than to kill, steal, and destroy that church before it ever starts. Join in praying for them, and have your people pray regularly for the church plant. This is another great way to remind your people of their church’s investment without being showy.
Go Find a Church Planter!
So, what do you think? Are you ready to find a church planter to invest in?
 R. Moore, Starting New Churches (Ventura, CA: Regal Book, 2002), 3.
 B. McNichol, quoted in “Churches Die with Dignity,” Christianity Today, January 14, 1991, 69.
 Dave Earley (2016). (Appendix 1, Closing embedded Interview). Everyday Evangelism: Sharing the Christian Faith. B&H Academic.