A few days ago I posted an idea to help fund church planting and transitions into ministry. Since then I've been thinking a bit more about a 'tentmaker' organization that would create sustainable church planting movements. The concept comes from the apostle Paul who worked as a tentmaker in Thessalonica, Corinth, and Ephesus (cf. Acts 18:3, 1 Thess. 2:9) in order to plant these churches. The goal is to create an organization to equip church planters so that they can provide for their families and transition with income into the ministry as their church develops. The church planter could even seek to start a tentmaker organization in their city to provide ongoing support for their first and hopefully future church plants. It is like Agathos' plan of One Church One Village, who instead of asking for continual support to fund their ministry to the orphans of aids victims in Africa, seeks to buy farms to create ongoing support.
By focusing on self-sustenance, and requiring that each village be self-sustaining, costs to each participating church are limited to a specific amount – capital costs. No further funding will be needed for each village.
Do traditional methods of raising funds to plant a church impair the mission of the church? Is there a connection between typical funding that requires church planters to put on a more 'event-driven' church in order to attract Christians who attend other churches and tithe? Does the church focus more on Sunday's service than the very life of the people living on mission throughout the week? Does it re-define what is a successful plant? Can a church never 'break-even' and still be seen as successful? Are there areas (inner-city, small towns) where it is impractical for a church to support itself through the congregation?
How might church plants supported by accompanying resources from a tentmaker organization re-define success? Could it change unspoken priorities and challenges of money to allow for intensely missional living with a longer-term view of 'success'? There is still a lot to think through…