There are several types of “partnerships” in the world today that foster development. We have seen countries signing Memorandums of Understanding as they partner to achieve certain developmental goals. Business houses and institutions have also used partnerships to ensure development is achieved.  These partnerships have come in different forms depending on what is to be achieved. What then are partnerships? These are ventures in which two or more people work together with the view of achieving something or making profits.

Church planting work is not excluded from this idea of partnerships. In fact, church-planting work survives in many ways by partnerships. It is a well-known fact that most churches that grow and become fully functional depend on other churches and individuals to partner with in certain areas. The missionary and the church being planted are not to be like an island. They co-exist with other churches of like faith. As a result, the labourer to be awarded a crown is not only the missionary who is overseeing the church, but also those who have participated through prayer, giving, and physical involvement.  For without these mentioned partnerships of prayer, giving, and physical involvement, church planting can be very difficult to achieve.  As we may well know, real people plant churches and they need real fellowship, encouragement, help, and support. These are among the several important needs on the wish list of every missionary involved in church planting.

For the sake of depth, let us then consider three items from the missionary’s wish list; namely, partnership in prayer, in finances, and in working teams.

Partnership in prayer

Missionaries are in great need of prayer partners. For the battle we are involved in is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers. We are up against the enemy of God, the devil. Colossians 4:3 says, “At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison”. The apostle Paul is hereby asking for persistence in prayer. He is asking the Colossians to pray that he may have opportunities to share the good news. He calls all Christians to a life style of constant prayer. Prayer, according to Paul, opens the doors for the word. Even if it does not come in the form of a command, we can fairly state from this passage that prayer is fundamental to any achievement.  According to Colossians 4:3 and many other passages in the Scriptures, we can say that partnership in prayer is an absolute necessity.  There are two reasons why this is so.

  1. Prayer is mandatory in church planting. This may not be obvious as a command, but clearly is inferred from what Jesus said in Matthew 9:35-38. “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’” This passage is suggesting that prayer opened the doors for the harvest.  The Lord Jesus was teaching his disciples the importance of prayer.  He said, “Pray earnestly,” implying that prayer is truly mandatory to achieving the harvest.
  2. Prayer is motivational to the missionary. Knowing that someone somewhere is praying for you is motivation enough to carry on with the Lord’s work of church planting. This is one of the top wish list items of any missionary involved in church planting work. Many missionaries are discouraged because there are many challenges out there. The apostle Paul knew very well the importance of prayer in his ministry. In the midst of evil men, the only comfort he had was the faithfulness of God. Jesus taught his disciples to pray and gave them what is commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer. This was done so that they may have a personal relationship with God as well as total dependence on God. In 2 Thessalonians 3:1-3, Paul sends Timothy to the Thessalonians for the purpose of strengthening the persecuted church and in his final instructions to the Thessalonians Paul encourages them to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:25). Prayer is the way in which communication is done with God. It was not only a good idea, it was the way in which Jesus lived his life in the world, and it is the way we ought to live our lives as believers. We must be constant in prayer.

Partnership in finances

When church planting commences, external finances are critical in making this work achievable. For a missionary to focus on the work they have been called to do, they must have adequate financial support to keep them from been distracted.  If the finances are not enough, the missionary will have divided attention, and this can be a distraction to their ministry.

The question worth addressing is, “Who supports the missionary financially in the period of church planting?” According to Philippians 4:10-20, the Philippians shared in Paul’s ministry, not just at a spiritual level, but at the practical level as well. They contributed to his work after he had left Macedonia (4:15), and when he was at Thessalonica (4:16). Then in verse 18, Paul is well supplied again by the Philippians. He said he received full payments and more!  His brother in the Lord, Epaphroditus, delivered the gifts to him. This partnership helped Paul to concentrate on church planting.

So the answer to the question earlier asked is that the church at Philippi supported Paul and the work. They were partners in finances. They helped the apostle to concentrate on the work without being distracted.  This is how church planting functions. Church planting is compared to having men holding the rope while others have gone down the mine to do the actual work. The church must come alongside the missionary and ensure that both personal and ministry work are supported. As mentioned earlier, in church planting, the labourer to be awarded a crown is not only the missionary overseeing the church, but also those who have participated through prayer, giving, and physical involvement. Those who are involved in either one of these are also doing missions.

It is important to note that this partnership in finances is:

(1)   Participation in church planting (v14-16).  Let us once again bring the Philippians in picture as a biblical example. What we learn from them is that they did not abandon the apostle Paul. We have been told that they were kind to share in his troubles (verse 14). This simply means they were involved in his life, for he said in verse14 “yet it was kind of you to share my troubles”. They were concerned about his wellbeing and the church’s needs. Giving to the work of missions was how the Philippians participated in Paul’s church planting work.  They wanted the church to grow. Hence, they went out of their way by being generous. In Philippians 1:3-5, Paul knew that the church at Philippi was praying for him daily and that their partnership in the gospel covered his needs. This church participated in giving to the survival and sustenance of the church.  That is Paul’s point here.

This means that we too need to give sacrificially towards missions if we are to see growth in the new work. Participation is crucial in church planting. This brings us to yet another crucial need in church planting. It is also important to note that this partnership is:

(2)   Participation in the life of the missionary. In Philippians 4:10, Paul was very happy that the church at Philippi revived their concern for him. Missions can be very lonely at times. Hence, knowing there are people that care about what you are doing is very encouraging. The apostle Paul shows his joy to the church that revived their concern for him. Their participation in his life encouraged him to work even more in the work of missions. People whom we must think about and help are the ones who plant churches. Missionaries want to know that we care and are concerned about their wellbeing. The church at Philippi engaged the apostle Paul at both individual and ministerial level (verse 15). We also observe that the church supported this missionary on several occasions. The apostle Paul says in verse 16 “Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.” They were absent at the mission station, but very present in their financial support. This is one of the crucial services a church can render to encourage a missionary. It is where the church is able to engage the missionary on an individual level by understanding his troubles. Once this is done the church will surely grow.

Partnership in working teams

One of the most important works in church planting is that of developing a working team. A missionary will need to find people to work with immediately they settle down at the mission station. The sending church may also set up mission groups or committees to help uplift the missionary. This is what we see with the apostle Paul throughout his ministry. Seldom was Paul found working alone. He had people he worked with as well as churches that supported him. He was engaged in widespread evangelism with reliable men. There are many people that worked with Paul in church planting.

First, if we examine the life of the apostle Paul and his missionary journeys, we will discover that he hard teams he worked with.  For instance, Paul worked with Timothy, Luke, and Titus. These men were often sent on errands of various types; they were co-workers who often carried out instructions from the apostle in the work of missions. They were not messenger boys, but credible men of the faith. . Titus was sent to rectify the problems in the church at Crete (Titus 1:5). For example, Timothy was sent to strengthen and comfort the Thessalonian saints (1 Thess. 3:2), and upon his return he was to give a report of the work (1 Thess. 3: 6). All of this freed the apostle Paul for his work and at the same time enlisted others in the task of evangelism.

Second, Paul encouraged churches and used them in the task of evangelism. Often it is asked how the Colossian congregation was started. It is fairly certain that Paul did not visit the area; thus he was not the founding missionary. Donald Guthrie, suggests that Epaphras, a convert of Paul, was the human instrument involved in founding the Colossian church. It is noteworthy that Paul had a Bible training school in Ephesus (Acts 19:9), and that to the Ephesians he wrote that gifted men are granted to the church for edification and increase of the body (Eph. 4:7–16). Paul stressed that the work of the ministry is the responsibility of all the saints and not the work of just a few. The result of the efforts of the saints at Ephesus is seen in the Book of Revelation—the seven churches singled out include Ephesus and six others in the general area. Note also that Paul commended the Thessalonians because from them “sounded out the word of the Lord so that we need not to speak any thing” (1 Thess. 1:8 KJV).


Let me end by saying that among the several wishes of missionaries, the above-mentioned three are crucial. Partnership in prayer is very important because it is what unlocks the doors of repentance and faith in human souls upon hearing the gospel.  Hence, a missionary depends on the prayers of saints for the extra ordinary to happen in church planting work. The other partnership that is equally important is that of finances. This partnership takes care of the needs of both the church plant and the missionary so that the missionary can concentrate on the work of church planting. There are very few church plants that are fully supported financially that fail to stand. Usually, if this happens, the failure is in the giftedness of the missionary planting the church.

The other crucial partnership is that of establishing a working team. A missionary will function well if he has people to work with.  One reason for establishing a working team is accountability, and the other is for variety of giftedness.  The church has a lot of work of which no single individual can manage to handle alone. We are gifted differently and hence, having a team helps to achieve the God-given mandate.  We saw that the apostle Paul worked with a team of believers in church planting. The Lord Jesus had a team of men that he laboured with to establish his church.


Hesselgrave, David F. (2000-05-01). Planting Churches Cross-Culturally: North America and Beyond (Kindle Locations 2131-2134). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.