Some Thoughts on Church Planting Networks and Cash

Last night there was a scramble for church plant funding after Ed Stetzer retweeted a tweet by Pastor Shane Farmer. Here is the original tweet. 

I immediately responded with an introductory email and got a personalized email back from Pastor Shane this morning. His email explained the new church planting initiative that his church is starting and the parameters for receiving funding. 

This type of investment by a single church is inspiring. No doubt this program will lead to many future churches. 

Unfortunately, it does not benefit a church plant like Haven City Church because we are already locked into a program that requires training. The program that Pastor Shane is starting will benefit guys who are not already committed to a network with outside requirements. 

My exchange with Pastor Shane clarified some concerns that have been growing as I've watched guys affiliate with Church Planting networks for the sake of funding. After briefly stating that we wold not be able to precede I expressed some further thoughts in a reply email here: 

Most church planting assessments identify growth areas and then emphasize these areas in training rather then a comprehensive training that covers every aspect of planting. If I could change the SBC Multiply training it would be in this area. 
You may consider some form of “testing out” of some of your training and then partnering with planters on their growth areas. The coaching in growth areas seems to be the most valuable training I’m getting and that is what I’m hearing from the other planters around me in the city. 
Also, if your program is exclusive (the training requirement typically makes it exclusive) you will need to make sure that the finances you are offering + their fundraising requirement is enough for the planter to be fully funded in their context. The average church planting budget for year one is $125k. They city plants can run closer to $160K+. Unfortunately planting organizations are setting a dollar amount they will contribute on an annual basis, making their program exclusive or prohibitive to working with other groups and it doesn’t get the planter to a fully funded position. 
You may want to consider the ability for a planter to be given credit for previous or current training offered elsewhere. I come out of a higher education leadership background and we call the transferability of education credits an “articulation agreement”. It would be cool if there were articulation agreements between planting networks. Redundancy of training is counterproductive to the goal of planting, but a lot of guys are doing it just to get the funding. Now networks are cracking down on guys that are working with multiple networks because they see the planters doing 20-30 hours of homework each week. But that again restricts the finances available to the planter.

There are a number of Church Planting Networks that give significant funding to planters. ARC, Orchard Group, Stadia, Sent and NAMB are a few. There are always hoops that have to be jumped through to get the funding. As I highlighted in my email to Shane, there are guys who are joining multiple networks to get the funding but are handicapped by the amount of hoop-jumping they are doing. Imagine doing two rigorous trainings simultaneously, two sets of mentors meetings on a monthly basis, two sets of orientation retreats. The planter ends up spending all their time on this stuff and they are squeezed to actually do the church plant itself. 

This is why the current SBC planting strategy is my favorite. NAMB is designating official funding for the planter, but is also encouraging the network of SBC churches to support the planters directly. The chance of being fully funded through the SBC is significantly higher then in some of the other networks.