It's an interesting concept.
A man is called to serve God as a church planter/pastor and either relocates to a new area, or adjusts his work schedule in the community he lives to plant a church. This impacts not only himself, but his wife and family. In most cases, these men have sending churches or host churches who are their primary sponsors. However, this is not always the case.
When our church began to seek partnerships in Toronto, we did what many others have done. We talked with our NAMB missionaries, took a vision trip, and met and interacted with planters on the field. After prayerful consideration, the church I pastor followed God's lead to partner with Mike Hauser of Starting Point Church. He is one of a number of church planters and missionaries we partner with throughout the world.
While we are not the host or sending church for most of these planters (only Neil Jimenez, a church planting apprentice in Toronto comes from our fellowship) we now consider all of these men as members of our Leadership Team. This includes Mike and Neil as well as the others throughout the world. They do not attend our staff meetings. In many cases, planted their churches independently and prior to even meeting us, but by considering them part of our team, a kinship has developed.
So, when Legacy Church in Tucson has a packed house and a record day for baptisms, we celebrate. When a young college student from Mercy Hill Church in Greensboro chooses to leave the US and serve as a missionary in Italy, we celebrate. When a woman comes to Starting Point Church in Burlington, Ontario and surrenders her life to Jesus and is baptized, we celebrate. When a young teenager in Wales, a country that is only one percent evangelical, comes to Christ through the work of our friends and churches there, we celebrate. And so on with our partners in Portland, at Grassroots Church in Colorado Springs, in Iceland, in Haiti, China and other locations where our partners are serving.
We celebrate not as we would when a friend wins a prize. We celebrate as family with a loved one.
These men, their families and the churches they serve are more than just "some guys" out there doing Christian work. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ. These are our people. We pray for them by name. We know them, talk with them, grieve with them and will not, if at all possible, allow them to feel that they are ever alone and on their own.
Maybe your church is just considering this as a possibility. It is a shift. It's a shift from a name on a prayer guide, to a name that represents a friend and part of the family.
We sponsor each of these families with prayer and some financial help as we are able. We are available to travel to their location as needed to serve in ways they determine.
Some Won't Get It
There's always push back. Some, even in the church I serve, grumble that "We have enough to do here in Orange Park and Jacksonville. We don't need to worry about Toronto." Yes, there are always those who just don't get it, won't get it, and do not want to get it. Some would claim that Acts 1:8 is incremental and once "Jerusalem" is reached, we can then go to "Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world."
Nevertheless, press on and be courageous. Recognizing that Acts 1:8 is not an incremental mission strategy, but God's simultaneous mission command for His church must begin with leadership. Believe me, you will never out give, out serve or out work God. To bring these men and their families into "our family" has been a blessing to us. I encourage you to consider doing the same.