(This post is part of a series on S4P's mission statement. Here's a link to introduce you to the series.)
“Back in my day I…,” or, “When I was a kid I…” If you are over a certain age, odds are good that you have uttered at least one of those phrases a time or two. If you are over a certain age and have children, your kids can probably fill in after the ellipses. Perhaps your version ends with “...had to work for what I got,” or “...didn’t have everything handed to me on a silver platter.” That is what is known as “sweat equity,” and it is still alive and well in the Sower4Pastors ministry.
One of the ways Sowers4Pastors empowers pastors is by helping with church construction projects. But new churches aren’t handed over on a platter, silver or otherwise. When a pastor shows up requesting help with a church building project, Allen and Russell keep the attention on the roof. Church building projects are primarily in rural areas and the churches are told they must provide the land, labor, and all of the materials except roofing materials. Allen describes the process as “labor intensive.”
Sowers4Pastors loves when a congregation comes to them and says they’ve grown as a home church or that they started out in a much smaller building and no longer have enough room to meet. Sometimes a congregation wants to turn the smaller building into a designated Sunday school building and build a larger sanctuary. The idea behind the church construction ministry is to come alongside congregations that are ready to work. It simply isn’t as successful to build a church with no people there.
There is an emphasis on ownership. It is the congregation’s church. They buy the land, build the walls, and everything else except for buying the roofing supplies. The roofs cost an average of $1000 each. Sowers4Pastors has seen some churches that don’t even put down a floor before they start meeting. Yet, when Allen and Russell pay a visit a year or so later, often the packed dirt has been replaced with ceramic tiles.
Churches generally approach Sowers4Pastors when they have about 60 people attending regularly and want to have the space to grow to accommodate 250 people. By making sure that each congregation has sweat equity in their building, Sowers4Pastors’ ministry funds stretch that much farther, and also insures that the congregations will feel a sense of ownership, which usually leads to better care and concern for the church building.
In the past, whenever Sowers4Pastors has tried to do the construction projects differently, there have been issues. This way, they can easily spot the motivated churches, and, since each congregation owns its own church building, there are no calls to repair things that break. This is not to say that there’s never a time for building a church first when starting a church plant, but in this area, the risk of no one coming to fill up the empty seats is too great. It all goes back to stewardship, sweat equity, and a general lack of silver platters.
- posted by Christi.