Though I lived for four years on full-time support as a church planter in Boston, I am far from an expert on this topic.
Though I had people on my prayer team from dozens of countries and all over the US, I am far from an expert on this topic.
Though I helped plant a church in Boston, I feel I made more mistakes than successes.
I am no expert here!!!
On the other hand, I know good talent when I see it and I want to highlight a blog of some friends of mine who I think are starting their journey to plant churches well.
The Bennett’s Journey to Paris
My friends Ryan and Erin Bennett are partnering with World Team to plant churches in Paris, France. They have been blogging about their journey, sending partnership letters, and recruiting prayer partners.
Here are a few things they are doing well:
1. They live now the way they hope to live then
Right now, Ryan and Erin are in the US working jobs, raising support, praying, studying, and more importantly, practicing obedience to God. Ryan organizes the small groups at his local church and has a vision to see those groups mature and multiply in a context similar to the one he and Erin will be in in Paris. They both are active in outreach through their local church and are a part of a prayer counseling team at their church. If you want to be successful at church planting, you need to be “faithful in a few things…” now.
2. They have a clear vision for what they are called to do
Not just church planting but planting multiplying churches in Paris, France. Additionally, they have broken that larger goal down into smaller steps and are working intentionally to get there.
3. They are using communication tools well
A heart for the nations and a passion for the Gospel to penetrate every society is good. But if it is never communicated to others, it’s extremely difficult to get others on board with the vision. Ryan and Erin have set up a series of four newsletters (yep, the regular old postal service kind) that they’ve sent out. They also have the same newsletter available electronically through mailchimp. The most visible aspect of their communication is their blog bennettsofparis.blogspot.com. Here you can find more about the Bennetts, why they are planting churches in Paris, how to support them, and even a detailed financial breakdown of what it’s going to take for them to go.
4. They are transparent
I was especially struck by their openness in sharing how much it costs to live in and plant churches in Paris. Of course, the conversion from dollar to euro means they’ve got to increase their support raising by 30%. Their organization, World Team, also has a few administrative requirements. Then there are all sorts of one-time costs that need to be raised before they can even buy a plane ticket to France.
5. They make their financial needs easy to understand
When they share how much they are raising (which is nearly $100,000 a year). They make it practical for us to understand:
- They write, “[Our] salary is equivalent to a teacher’s salary in France plus half.”
- Their salary includes health insurance for the US and France. “This way we are covered while in the U.S., but also not taking advantage of the French health system. We want to be respectful and responsible guests of our host country.”
- They need to cover their one time costs first. They write, “Because all donations are placed into the same account, when you commit to support us monthly everything you give prior to when we arrive in France goes toward our one-time expenses. Therefore, we would desire that you begin giving as soon as you can so that we can have 100% of our one-time expenses covered before we leave for France.” I like the honesty, the urgency, the boldness, and the transparency (see earlier point).
6. They invite you along on the journey
I don’t like getting partnership requests from people who think “partnership” means, “you give me money and I’ll go and fulfill the Great Commission so you don’t have to.” Ryan and Erin are different. Through their newsletters and blog posts I get a sense that they are discipling their readers. They are sharing details of their journey and equipping us to activate our faith and live our lives on purpose.
Partnership, to the Bennett’s means much what Paul meant when he wrote to the Romans. Paul spent 15 chapters sharing the Gospel, teaching on the implications of the Gospel for our lives and then towards the end of chapter 15 he writes the following:
That is why I have been prevented many times from coming to you. But now I no longer have any work to do in these provinces, and I have strongly desired for many years to come to you whenever I travel to Spain. For I hope to see you when I pass through, and to be assisted by you for my journey there, once I have first enjoyed your company for a while. Romans 15:22-24
The Letter to the Romans was a gift that Paul gave to his partners in the Gospel and then he shares that he wants them to assist him on his journey to Spain.
The blogs and newsletters that Ryan and Erin are writing are a gift to their partners and I highly commend them to you. If you are wondering about the nuts and bolts of raising support, developing prayer partnerships, and preparing to go to the mission field, I think you would benefit greatly from what Ryan and Erin are doing to prepare to go. If you have a desire to pray for and give financially to those who are “a good investment” then I hope you will read through their stuff and sign up to be a part of the journey!
What are some effective ways you’ve seen people prepare for a mission (church planting, cross-cultural missions, outreach inititiatives, etc.)? What do you notice in the Bennett’s blog posts and newsletters that are commendable, reproducible? What are your thoughts on the fundraising process? Like it? Love it? Hate it?