Matt & Hugh addressed the funding issues this morning. In incarnational/organic churches, asking for money does stab the vision a bit. This can happen later down the road, but up front it is off limits for this kind of thing.
They suggest three sources of funding: 1) support raising, 2) bi-vocational career, and 3) donations from the church plant itself. Being that the third comes later down the road, you really have to be strong with the other two early.
I still have concerns about the reproducibility of organic churches on the account of funding. Let’s say you are great at support raising… doesn’t this hinder the vision as much as direct donations? Doesn’t it still send the message that I have to be paid to be your friend? Or, that you have to be a professional to do this?
I’m not convinced that pure bi-vocational is possible either. Hugh says that, “The less centralized your church is, the more organized you have to be.” A Sunday service is probably easier to put together than a decentralized movement. Just because organic churches looks loose, that doesn’t mean they require less quality leadership.
From my personal experiences with organic planting, I can also vouch that these things take more time than a bi-vocational family man can give. My house church did outreach faster than we could do leadership development, and therefore there was a need for persistent mature attention to catch up with the leadership development. Between three house churches, I was putting in 25+ hours/week with leadership development and start-up initiatives alone. You can’t grow ripe fruit just to let it fall on the ground, but in the process of collecting the fruit, I neglected my family.
I feel like all the funding outlets have backed us into a box – the three proposed funding sources just don’t work until three or more years down the road. We need a better plan. The burn-out course that would get a person to full funding will kill off most before getting there. Here’s a little brainstorm on possibilities…
- I’m seeing why incarnational offshoots of an established church may be the way to go. It’s a slow investment, but you’ll get better outreach and a steadier influx of new members if you release staff on this mission. However, the sending church has to be okay with some of the fruit not making back to the central storehouse.
- Hugh had an interesting idea. Instead of doing an weekend assessment and then funding a planting team with $250,000 or so, how about extending the assessment to 18 months, hand out $1,500 to all candidates, and if they’ve shown the aptitude in engaging and gathering 25-40 or so, then give them the full funding to structure a congregation. Hugh says it takes at least that much time to incarnationally lay the groundwork anyway.
- Marry a sugar momma… or dada. Most families could live on one income if they tried. What a great gift to the kingdom if you could give half of your would-be career time to incarnational mission. My wife played the sugar momma role to get me through seminary, we’ve dreamed of the possibility of splitting career time toward this again down the road.