When a new congregation is birthed from an existing church, the parent can absorb many of the administrative headaches of the new work. They already have effective systems and personnel in place, and they can, with relative ease, become a temporary umbrella, for the new work. Then, as the new congregation matures (and depending on their pathway toward autonomy) systems implementation is slowly handed over. This hand-to-hand mentoring provides natural care and oversight. To remind us of the metaphor, we call this a “parent” church. But not all works are born into a family. Many lean on the denomination or network to navigate cumbersome and sometimes confusing administrative minefields.
I have often said, “The purpose of our office is to make the hard work of church planting easier, and the easy work of complacency harder.” In reverse order, the administrative office exists to spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24), especially when we swerve toward easing up on the vision. But the administration also exists to help remove obstacles, so our new works aren’t inconvenienced by recreating the administrative wheel. I am reminded of the earliest days of the church, when administration was enacted so that critical spiritual ministry could be unhampered:
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:1-4)
One of the most strategically helpful (and loyalty-enhancing) services an agency can provide is an administrative onramp for new churches. In our earliest days of planting, our district regularly provided a one-day seminar (called “Do it Right”) for church leaders and their financial officers. Church treasurers and overseers were relieved to have someone – accountants, attorneys, and denomination leaders – tell them the right way to do things. This built relationships, relieved stress, reduced fear, strengthened communication, created trust, and increased contributions to the agency.
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