Thank You Lord for the Philippian Church!
In the first century, the Apostle Paul needed resources to further the Gospel. Thankfully, the Philippian Church was willing to partner with him.
The mission of the Gospel hasn’t changed; we still resources to send missionaries and plant churches.
How should we be supporting Gospel-work in our city and beyond? How should we be entering into partnership with local churches, to see the Gospel spread?
From Paul’s Philippian letter, I believe we can find 2 very unique partnerships that we should embrace, in order to further the Gospel.
1. Founding Partnership
“…in the beginning of the gospel…no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.” (Phil. 4:15)
And that the Philippians Church was in “…partnership in the gospel from the first day…” (Phil. 1:5)
Regardless of the risk, the Philippians Church invested in Paul’s Gospel work when no other church entered into partnership with him.
This is significant…and foundational.
Founding Partnership Today
In our Western churches, we might hold off on financially supporting missions or church plants in the first few years. We might state that its our of wisdom or prudence.
In reality, its our fear of risk, which often robs us of reward.
Church planting is the greatest evidence of this. Established churches often buck the need for more churches with selfish rhetoric:
“They’ll take our people and our resources!” or “Let them raise their own money to start their church!“
But that doesn’t hold weight when we look at the evidence. Check out these stats from a PhD study of 624 churches completed by Jeffrey C. Farmer at New Orléans Baptist Theological Seminary:
“…attendance rose 21.5% for the five years after a church plant. Additionally, monetary growth was favorable in 7 of the 8 variables tested, including designated gifts (77% increase) and tithes (48%).“
“A church on mission prioritizes its sending capacity over its seating capacity. This reproductive generosity brings health to the mother church as well as to the baby churches.” (Five Reasons For Church Planting – ChurchPlanting.com)
How quickly we forget that we’re the church? And that we all belong to Jesus?
2. Long-Standing Partnership
Paul continues his partnership commendation.
“Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.” (Phil. 4:16)\
Not forgetting his opening remarks.
“…your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Phil. 1:5)
There’s clear indication that the Philippian Church didn’t just throw Paul a bit of cash, then cut off the support. Paul’s words confirm a long-standing financial partnership.
Long-Standing Partnership Today
In Western society commitment is becoming more of an option than a virtue. This social experiment has definitely leaked into the church.
- Missionaries are reporting an increase in sporadic support, instead of monthly or annual financial commitments.
- Churches are reporting an increase in casual donations, instead of weekly or monthly tithing.
I believe a decline in Church Membership has a lot to do with these trends. Entering into Church Membership is really like entering into a Long-Standing Partnership with a local Body of Believers. (Not laying a guilt-trip, just highlighting what I’ve witnessed.)
For example, at the church where I pastor, our Membership Covenant states the following regarding financial support:
“I will through the Holy Spirit…Contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of its ministry and the spread of the Gospel throughout the world.” (Whitehorse Baptist Church Membership Covenant)
Like a committed marriage, a Membership Covenant is a long-standing partnership where “…for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health..” the members remain faithful.
I believe the Philippian Believers showed this kind of Long-Standing Partnership for Paul, throughout his missionary journeys. They provided the resources needed to continue planting churches and raising up leaders.
Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21)
How we spend our money tells a story about our heart. I believe the our spending also gives evidence as to the types of partnership we embrace.
This considered, how and with who have you entered into partnership? Are any of them Gospel partnerships? Have any of them been founding? Are any of them currently long-standing? What partnership should we embrace next?
Join the Conversation, Leave Your Thoughts
How are you currently partnering with Gospel-work? What do you love about that partnership?