Focus Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:9
I'm the pastor of a new church. One of the difficult things as a new church is building up a financial base to support ourselves. The conventional wisdom, at least from the many church plant trainers I worked with, is that it takes 5 years or more for a new church to become self-sustaining. That leaves the question of how is the ministry supported in the meantime?
One answer is often that other churches should support us. "Let's ask other churches to send us money," some will say. It is wonderful and a real blessing when established churches support new church starts (and I certainly wouldn't turn down any such donations). But the reality is that rare is the church with more money than need in their own ministry context. "The Conference (or denomination) should support us--let's ask them for money," others will say. It is great when a denomination shares resources to support a new congregation, again I won't turn that money down. But denominations have limited resources and many, many ministries to support.
The early churches supported themselves. They worked hard to do so, according to 1 Thessalonians. We know Paul worked to support himself so he could do ministry. And many of the "new churches" actually sent money back to the "established" church in Jerusalem, rather than the other way around, Those new churches saw the faith they were given, the gospel that was shared by the earlier congregations, as such a gift that the newer congregations sought to support the older--rather than the other way around!
Each congregation needs to ask itself--indeed each Christian should ask him/herself--how can I not only support my own ministry but that of those who gifted me with faith? What resources do I have that can be tapped to support the work of ministry? That is a much healthier approach than, what ministry resources of others can we tap?