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How does the sponsor church relate to the new church?
An area that sometimes creates conflict is the relationship between the sponsor church and the new church. A lack of clear expectations, mutually agreed upon lines of accountability, and good communication could turn the church planting experience from a blessing into a disappointment for both the sponsor and the planter. Before a church decides to enter into a partnership to plant a new church, the following questions should be addressed:
- Doctrinal and methodological issues:
- Are the planter and the new church in doctrinal agreement with the sponsor church? Has the planter read and understood the Baptist Faith and Message 2000?
- Does the sponsor church understand and accept the methods and style of the new church regarding worship, outreach, discipleship, etc?
- Facilities, finances, and legal issues:
- If the new church is meeting in the sponsor’s facilities, have logistical issues been discussed and agreed upon? Will rent be paid? Will help with utility bills be expected? Is there a plan for the new church to grow into greater responsibility? There needs to be an understanding about use of facilities, when they are available, who can have keys and access, scheduling of facilities, maintenance, etc. Is a written agreement in place?
- Who will handle the new church’s finances? Is there someone (other than the planter and/or his wife!) who is qualified to handle money? Is the new church ready to have its own bank account? How will tithes and offerings be handled? Is there a plan for the church to take over its own finances? Who will approve the new church’s budget and expenditures?
- Who will handle Cooperative Program and other missions giving?
- What kind of access will the planter and the new church have to the office equipment, telephones, and supplies of the sponsor church? Is this clearly understood?
- Do any insurance, liability, social security, annuity, or legal issues need to be dealt with?
- Is the new church ready to legally incorporate?
- Is there a clear understanding on how and when funding checks from the sponsor, the association, and the state convention will be handled?
- What will be the planter’s relationship to the sponsor church’s staff? Will he be considered a staff member? Will he be expected to attend staff meetings? If not, is there a time and a person the planter will be meeting with regularly?
- If the new church is not meeting in the sponsor church’s facilities, is distance a factor in accountability?
- Are there other partners besides the sponsor church involved, i.e. co-sponsor churches, local association, state convention? Are expectations and relationships clear to the planter and to the primary sponsor? Is the planter free to seek other churches as partners?
- Does the planter have a relationship with a church planting coach? Does the sponsor understand this?
- Cultural issues:
- If the new church is of a different language, ethnic, or cultural group, has the sponsor church made every effort to understand cultural differences? These issues may include communication styles, worship styles, decision making styles, time perspectives, accountability and responsibility perspectives, perspectives on planning, scheduling, and setting goals, discipline of children, dress, use of facilities, food, and many others.
- Have the sponsor church and new church agreed to seek to understand each other’s differences? Do they both agree that all cultures are under the judgment of Scripture?
- If language is an obstacle to communication, is there someone available to act as a translator?
It should be emphasized that every situation is different. It is important for the sponsor, the planter, and all other partners to discuss these issues before the church is launched and funding begins and to regularly review progress and challenges and to make adjustments as necessary.