So you are leading a new church plant and will be needing some partner churches to support you. From the supporting partner perspective, here are some things that help us be better partners:
When a partner church first comes on-board, send a welcome kit with a cover letter. The cover letter can be a form letter, but include a handwritten note of thanks on bottom. A Tweet is not enough. Sure, this is all about the Kingdom, but as you read Paul’s letters, he expresses appreciation. Here are some other things to include in the kit:
- Tell us a little about yourselves, your call there, and the work. As pastor, I will already know most of this information, but I will want help in telling our congregation about you. Give us something we can copy and paste into our church communications.
- Give a brief synopsis of the context in which you are serving and your planting strategy.
- If you are away from your home state or region include a short list of things you miss from home (we may be glad to send you you a sack of grits or cheese bisquits from Jim n’ Nick’s).
- Include a few photos.
- In general, help our church get a mental picture of what they are supporting.
Send us an annual or semi-annual mission team needs catalog. We would like to be involved, as partners – not to meddle or be under foot, but to participate. This mailing (or more exactly, this e-mailing) could include:
- Tell us what you need the teams to do. You may want to have a plan for youth teams, adult construction teams, and other types of adult teams.
- Tell us what size teams you need. We don’t want to swamp your carrying capacity.
- Show us how the assignments match up with your planting strategy. We are not looking to be tourists or for make-work. If we can’t help you in your start-up, we can go somewhere else and help a church where we will be a better fit.
- Provide simple materials for us to train our teams before we leave. If you are already using video in your worship services, perhaps include some video.
- Have a system to introduce us to your local culture and its do’s and don’t’s.
- Tell us what you can and cannot provide in terms of accommodations or meals. We can take it from there. It may be all you can do is recommend some places to stay.
Bobby Gilstrap has a great system for this.
Send us a short monthly email with pictures, stories, and prayer requests. Some planters may assume their partners will be interested enough to follow their web sites and blogs and to read the e-mails they send everyone in the general population. Instead, send your partners some premium communications. These are the guys who are helping you pay the bills. They are called partners for a reason; they aren’t the general population. So, treat them like part of the team. It’s kind of hard to get excited about renewing support for a plant for an additional year if the only communication we have had from them is when they endorsed the back of our checks.
- At our church, we will actually pray about your prayer requests. Most churches will.
- When you have a need, make us aware. You might be surprised what a church could help you with — we might be surprised at the number of ways we could help!
Partners are an investment of your time; they are not a drain on your time. Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where there are no oxen, the feeding-trough is empty, but an abundant harvest comes through the strength of an ox.” No, if you don’t own an ox, you don’t have to feed it or clean its stall, but then on the other hand, you don’t get the benefit of its work, either. Oxen, like partners, can help bring in an “abundant harvest.”