Ralph Moore on the cost of church planting

Ralph Moore Ralph Moore launched four new churches this year. Here's how he describes the cost of church planting.

The Price You Pay Every time we multiply our church with a new church plant it costs us something. Be it money, nearness of friends, holes in the staff or other intangibles; there is always a cost. But, that is part of the price of following Jesus for a healthy pastor. We didn’t sign on for comfort, but for the expansion of the Kingdom of God in a hotly contested spiritual war.

Very Costly Indeed The biggest cost we incurred was when our Weekend Service Producer and his wife, our Worship Pastor, moved off to Lewiston, Idaho to plant a new church. Jeph Chavez came to us a broken college student in rebellion toward his parents. Six years, a marriage and three kids later, he returned to his hometown to launch a Hope Chapel. The cool thing is that he is in great shape with his parents and have their blessing and support.

Jeph was an integral part of our staff. When he left we were fortunate to have a man on hand who could step into Jeph’s shoes. But, to hear him tell it, those first few weeks were sheer terror. In honesty, we needed Jeph, but we let him go to a higher call.

Then there was Jaclyn, Jeph’s wife. We considered asking them for a divorce so we could keep her, but could find no precedent in the Bible. Jaclyn pastored six different worship bands for six different services. She would lead worship in one service and disciple leaders for the rest. Her departure was particularly painful, but God sent us someone from outside our church who stepped up into the role with the same fruitfulness we saw in Jaclyn.

A Little Less Costly The second most costly move is that of a Justin Mynatt, a guy my family has discipled for over fifteen years. It started with my high school daughter bringing Justin and a couple of other junior highers to MiniChurch in our house. Later I ran an apologetics oriented MiniChurch for Justin and his friends. I’ve spent hours coaching him about the business aspects of his landscaping company.

He and his wife are starting a church one town away, but the new church means I won’t see him as often (although he still attends a church planter’s MiniChurch that I operate).

Not So Bad The third move was even less costly. The Knox’s, a wonderfully loving family decided to plant a church, largely over a difference in preaching paradigm. They are King James Bible people and I preach from the New Living Translation. Don’t get me wrong. These are not argumentative people. They are loving saints with a deep conviction. I love them dearly.

Richard and Vicky Knox were and are wonderful friends. They left with our full support and we sent people along with them. They pastor in Kaneohe, where our church is located. We are great neighbors to each other. The reason it cost us little is that we had only a couple of years invested in their lives.

Not Bad At All Glenn (Rac) Racoma and his wife Veronica now pastor two house churches in Kalihi, on the other side of our island. Rac has been with us for about fifteen years and Veronica about twelve (ever since she married Rac).

They started with a mix of ‘straight’ kids who they were bringing to our church and a bunch of gangsters who came to their MiniChurch for the food and fellowship. Growth is came very quickly, but building a leadership base has been difficult. The members are mostly very young and extremely young in the Lord. Many still have a lot of the world attached to them.

Rac and Veronica solved their immediate problem by multiplying their church into two congregations. The straight kids meet in the original house. The gang (it is actually a gang) meets in the apartment of one of the members and in a park when the crowd is too large. The downside is that Rac pastors the gang guys while Veronica pastors the straights. Keeps them apart from each other on Friday nights when both churches meet.

Why is this “Not bad at all” from my perspective? Because I still see Rac and Veronica every Sunday in church and Rac attends my Church Planter’s MiniChurch on Saturdays. We are trying to build a model where our members can serve as apostles, planting churches, raising leaders and then moving on to the next neighborhood. The goal is for them to retain membership in our church over the years. This will help us learn to plant more rapidly. It will also allow us to raise disciples into leadership in the ground that is most fertile to them—their own neighborhoods.

The Money Issue Did you notice that I haven’t said a single thing about money. That’s because the real costs in church multiplication are relational. You move people away, you lose contact. You also cut into your leadership base. Money is never the issue. In fact, one way to jump-start growth in your congregation is by raising money for a new church.

However, the costs I’ve identified are real and you need to “budget” them into your thinking. The fields are still white and crying for workers. Will you part with some of your friends to make the harvest possible?

“Starting a New Church: The Church Planter's Guide to Success” (Ralph Moore)