The second element of Paul’s strategy was establishing. Paul established indigenous churches that were self-sustaining and could stand on their own. Instead of looking for support, these churches learned to depend on God and to not only share generously among themselves but with other churches. Paul’s example of supporting himself by his own hands was one of the reasons these churches quickly learned to become self-sustaining. Paul was very careful to avoid any appearance of financial profiting or having financial motives from his ministry.
Today, many of our churches and mission organizations have become financial institutions rather than the living Body of Christ. We commonly hear that organizations are unable to plant churches, to extend their missions, or to support their training institutions without financial assistance. This is because they have learned to depend on money rather than the Lord. Money subsidies create religious establishments that subsequently produce dependent converts who learn only to rely upon money instead of the Lord and the Holy Spirit.
Traditionally the idea has been that the stability of the church depends upon owning land, the erection of a building, or being financially secure. When we have secured a building or have adequate financial support, we tend to think a church or mission is firmly established and approved by God. But, in reality, buildings and money have absolutely no power to produce spiritual fruit and can actually hinder spiritual results.
The Early Church met in homes (Acts 2:46), upper rooms (1:13; 20:8), or a place of prayer (16:13). The greatest advertisement of their faith was not a building, but themselves (4:13; 16:25). Have we placed our investment where it will have the greatest impact?
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