I’m on an Innovative Min­istry Percolator (IMP) con­ference call, looking at the profiles of several church planters on my computer screen and talking with them about the amazing things their communities have accomplished. They’re also talking about their concerns.

IMP is a network of church planters who want to change the way we all think about and fund new ministries. Its members come from different denominations, and most of the worshiping communities were started with denominational grants. But the grants often last only three years, and it takes eight to ten years to plant a church that can support a minister. On the phone, one pastor explains how a funding source for a new worshiping community unexpectedly dried up. Another pastor confides to me later. “They wanted us to do this. They begged us to do this. Now they’re turning their backs on us.”

These pastors need a robust support system. Their churches often minister with people who are younger, differently abled, immigrant, or homeless, and their members may not have the resources of an established congregation. IMP wants the greater church to begin thinking of church planters as missionaries, with IMP acting as a mission agency to provide a network of support, tell stories, and raise money.