Getting People to Sacrifice.
by Missionary David R. Cox
Let us divide this section in various subsections:
(1) Sacrifice of money and property.
(2) Sacrifice of time and energy.
Sacrifice of Money and Property
Let’s make some statements here that maybe some or many people will need to mull over for a long time before they understand them. When we plant a church, the easiest part of it is to put up a building. Anybody can do that. They can rent a store front or auditorium, or buy property and build a small auditorium. In most people’s thinking, that is just as far as they go. They think the rest of church planting is simple. It is not.
A church must be planted as an on going endeavor. In other words we need to set up the church from the beginning as an autonomous church. We define this as (1) self-governing, (2) self-supporting, and (3) self-propagating. Simply put, a church is not a mature adult until it has achieved these three principles. I have heard of churches planted by the Southern Baptist Convention in Mexico, that had nice buildings put up (with US money), with good Mexican pastors (salaries paid by the convention), etc. When the convention “turned it over to the nationals”, the money stopped coming from the US, and the good pastor went to another church that could pay him good money, and the people of the church could not maintain or fix the church, and eventually it was turned into a cow barn with no services being held there. The point here is that every church that will continue without external propping up has to have an internal source for these three basics of life.
A church needs absolutely men who will sacrifice of their money and goods and property to see that the ministry among them continues and grows. This has to be a basic goal of every church plant. Without it, the church is only a dependent child on life support that will wilt and die almost immediately once that life support is taken away. It is not healthy.
Our goal as church planters here needs to be to instill a vision into our men to support financially the ministry. The more big money from the US or a denominational board is spent on a small church plant, the less important the men of that church see their own contributions to their own ministry. Because of this, it is better to go the low road, barely scraping by, but emphasizing the church members’ participation as absolutely essential. They must grow a vision for financially funding the work of God among them.
The way to do that is to make the ministry financially dependent on their sacrifices. This is a road filled with disappoints and defeats, restrictions that keep us from doing so much, and basically is depressing to see the inconsistency of God’s people. But this is the only road open to us. We must fight through these issues with our families and especially with our men so that they pay for what we do.
Sacrifice of Time and Energy
The Bible presents a link between salvation, loving God, and the expending of our time and energy in God and His work. The trick here is to teach what is necessary from the Scriptures to establish this link in the minds of your members. The first thing is that we need to be “right” as a church. If we are not really doing the work of the Lord, we are a cult and simply have carnal or misguided objectives at heart. The work of the Lord is to see the lost converted, discipled, living victoriously, and serving God.
Next we need to link our teaching, preaching, and urging to serving God.