Church planting Simple Church Teaching from India

How many $$ to start a church?

Continuing our study of Luke 10.

Bag and sandalsI tried without success to find out the average cost of starting a church in this country.  If my memory serves me right, it's in the region of $350,000 by the time you include buildings and the training and salary for a pastor.  (If anyone has an accurate figure, I would be interested to know.)  Then there's all the paraphernalia surrounding a church plant: a marketing strategy, the new worship team, Sunday school and so on…

Contrast this with Luke 10:4, remembering that this passage in Luke 10 is Jesus' pattern for reaching out to communities of people.

"Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road."

Why would Jesus tell us not to take anything with us?  Surely we need some money and other resources to reach out to a new community? 

There are a couple of reasons why not.  First, if we take nothing with us, where is our dependence?  It has to be on the Lord to provide for us.  Where is that provision going to come from?  Out of the harvest!

This is a huge paradigm shift for those of us who have been involved in traditional church life. All the resources for any new work are going to be in the harvest.  The premises will come from the harvest.  New leadership will come from the harvest.  The workers for any new area are probably not even believers yet.  

If you ask our Indian friends why you don't take things with you, they will add another reason too.  You don't take anything extra with you because you don't plan to stay!  Again, that's because the workers for the harvest are in the harvest.  You do not move to a new area to lead a church, but you will mentor the new worker from the harvest who will lead the church.

Why do you not stop to greet anyone on the way?  We are looking for a specific person, and Jesus tells us later in the passage how we will recognize that person.  Again our Indian friends have a different perspective.  They say that if they talk to the wrong person, they stand a good chance of being beaten up! It's best to let Jesus reveal the right person.

9 replies on “How many $$ to start a church?”

Then Jesus said to them, “When I sent you out without a wallet, traveling bag, or sandals, you didn’t lack anything, did you?” “Not a thing!” they answered. Then he said to them, “But now, the person who has a wallet and a traveling bag should take them along. The person who doesn’t have a sword should sell his coat and buy one.
(Luk 22:35-36 GW)

Tony, I have often wondered about these verses. The one thing I come up with is that this might have been specific to that situation,(Jesus was about to be betrayed) because the disciples say to him, “We have two swords. Is that enough?” And Jesus replies, “It is enough.” There is no implication anywhere else that we should take (natural) weapons with us when we reach out to others.
Anyone else have any thoughts?

Felicity, as a passing comment in an email to a church-planting buddy of mine I shared the $350k number that you mentioned and received this interesting reply:
“I was at a “Boston Church Planters” breakfast a few months ago, where one pastor’s prayer request was for “350,000 dollars in the next six months so that his church could really launch”… ironically, that’s the exact amount you quoted for a church plant. I was baffled by his response. 350k!!!!! Imagine what one could do to transform a community and change lives on a one on one basis with 350k! It was also disturbing to me that this was what he was praying for, not wisdom, or for the lives of those who he was ministering to, but for money.”

Interesting and relevant article. Thanks, Frank.
And Zach, you are right. What could one do to help a community with that amount of money.
I suspect Jesus is horrified at much of what is done in his name.

I will be very interested what you have to say about Lk. 10:6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. I assume this is what you are referring to when you say “Why do you not stop to greet anyone on the way? We are looking for a specific person, and Jesus tells us later in the passage how we will recognize that person.” I have always been curious about the meaning of “your peace will rest on him; if not it will return to you.” I’ll also be curious how your Indian friends live this out. I long to have a deeper understanding of this verse.

Ross, I have puzzled over this one too since it’s somehow not a cultural thing here in the West. My impression after many small group studies on this, is that if people respond favorably to words of blessing (encouragement, positive words, in a Western context), that is like your blessing resting on them. Whether in a cultural context where it was common to greet people by saying “Peace on you” it has a different meaning, I don’t know.

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