Forget about “Financial Sustainability”

If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more. – General Eric Ken Shinseki

I believe that many, if not most, church planters are going to be paying their own way in the very near future.


Everyone talks about post-Christendom. But a staggeringly low number of people are talking about post-Christendom methods for financially fueling missional movements.

This is a big, hairy beast of an issue that has so many dimensions and requires so many paradigm shifts that it calls for 1,000 discrete ‘church planting proverbs’ rather than one. For instance, we’ll need to dare to imagine…

  • Open-source seminary training that is undertaken while in an immersive field apprenticeship alongside a church planter.
  • Entrepreneurial training that will help the church planting candidate establish passive income streams to financially fuel his future church plant.
  • A constellation of co-laborers in each church plant—none of them “full time paid staff”—who equip the congregation for discipleship and mission.
  • The radical mobilization of the ‘laity’.
  • Small churches that multiply rapidly, have little to no overhead, and will never be ‘financially self-sustaining’ in the traditional terminology.
  • Preachers who don’t spend 15, 20, 25+ hours preparing to preach, but who can boldly and accurately edify and commission the body by proclaiming Jesus simply and passionately.
  • Many more things.

The goal is not ‘financial sustainability’. The goal is a mobilization of the people of God to delight in and obey the Great Commission. We want kingdom, not “successfully planted churches”. The kingdom will have the church. Don’t worry. Go for the former, and you’ll get the latter.

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