Show me the money

The following are three separate newspaper articles, each describing a different missional project and their approach to funding. Take a look at each one, and then explore the questions:

CHURCH TEAM MAKES MAGIC MONEY
 

By Neil Fraser

A UCA fundraising team is celebrating this morning after successfully closing the funding gap for their $400,000 missional project. It has taken two years and a combination of efforts across their whole community. When asked what the congregation’s secret was, a spokesperson said “We spent time early on sharing the vision of what we hoped to achieve and why. People were captured, they felt part of something and were energised to sacrifice and work hard to make it happen.”

It hasn’t been a smooth road, six months ago the group was hit with an unexpected expense related to one of their buildings and there wasn’t total agreement about dipping into their vision funds. One congregation member said

“During that time, there was some intense conflict about how funds that had been hard earned for one purpose, being spent on another. We all felt like we owned the money and even people not usually on committees wanted to find ways to influence the decision. People made sure their voices were heard.”

In the end, the funds were reappropriated but then quickly recovered through further fundraising efforts. It seems the threat of delaying achieving the goal, simply focussed people further. You can visit the project website, or join them for their open day later this month, on the 14th of June.”

 

BEQUEST HELPS TEAM BE THE FUTURE
 

By Alex West

The unlikely recipients of this year’s Wesley Bequest has surprised churchgoers, with a team of eight who came together at the last minute to submit their application.

“We are absolutely stoked” said one team member, with another explaining,

“We felt very strongly that our vision and purpose is the right one for these times which is why I think we have been successful.”

The team has not worked together before and only started meeting a month ago, but their conviction was clear to the panel of judges. The Wesley Bequest has been running for over 100 years and allocates funds in three categories: Formation, Multicultural and Future Church with the latter attracting the largest sum. Applicants must complete both paperwork and a video submission outlining the purpose, goals, existing resources and target audience for their initiative.

 

Then there are a series of interviews. “It isn’t an easy process to go through, “ one of the 2018 panellist said. “Teams must really do their homework and be committed to their project in order to push through the application process. Unfortunately we always have to turn people away. We do encourage people to try again in the following year if they are unsuccessful.”

 

FORMALITY WITHOUT THE FUNDING
 

By Jill French

A small group of under-thirty-year-olds are stirring up controversy with their decision to create a common purse to support their missional project. This will be the first time in the presbytery’s history that a group has been established with this approach to self-funding. The group has been living in the same area, meeting regularly for bible study and prayer for several years. They are part of a local congregation but had a sense that they could do more. One member described how it all started:

“During our weekly bible study meetings we started talking about our local communities and some of the challenges we were seeing around loneliness and mental health issues. We realised we had been talking about it for a while and didn’t really know what to do. Something had to change and one of our group said, if it’s not us, then who? and that was it, we were set on a path.”

 

 

The local presbytery is still going to formally create a set of role descriptions for the team, however the difference is they won’t be connected to salary or stipend in any form. Instead, each team member will have another source of income, which will feed into the project to cover everyone’s time.

“Money won’t be the only thing we share. We share a common purpose as well and to be honest, we love doing life together. This is fun for us, it’s come at the right time for the couples and families in the mix. This isn’t just something we are doing, it’s who we are.” When asked what they would do if there was a shortfall, one member responded:

“I expect that will happen, we’ll just have to see how things go. If there is an issue perhaps then we’ll apply for some funds to keep us going or cover the gap.”

 

 

Questions

  • What are the funding principles at play in each newspaper article?
  • How does the way projects are funded, impact on how they are shaped and operate?
  • True or false: “You don’t need money to do mission.” Explain why you responded with true or false.
  • What comes first, heart commitment from people to live out the project or funding to resource it to happen?
  • What are the benefits of a new missional initiative starting out with secure funding?
  • What sorts of risks are you most comfortable with when pioneering. Is financial risk more or less stressful to you than other risks?
  • Missional projects are often reaching out to a group of people who aren’t initially committed to a faith. How might this impact things like tithing?
  • What other funding approaches have you seen implemented? What were their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What kind of challenges would you predict are facing the group from the Bequest?
  • What challenges might the group from the common purse article face?
  • Beyond the church, what other funding models have you seen applied to projects that seek to engage the community, feed the hungry, heal the sick, support the vulnerable? What might we learn from these approaches?

Wisdom from the pews

“Access to adequate resources, physical, human and financial is a significant need for any new venture. Funding is often linked to accountability and reporting structures external to the project, particularly when grants are involved. ”

“Accessing grants and support can be a catalyst for building relationships with the wider church or community organisations, however it is valuable to move beyond a transactional approach if the funds and accountability are to be genuinely supportive. Funds raised within pioneering projects themselves is usually limited, especially when the purpose is strongly missional or reaching out to non-church individuals. ”

“For many who have been involved in pioneering work there are significant questions around what long term models for self-sustaining projects might be, especially ones that establish a foundation beyond the initial phases into 10-15 year time frames. This is something the church needs to consider more carefully. How can we resource mission in a new era?”

Going deeper

UCA Qld Synod - Financial FAQ

The Synod of Queensland has some helpful essential tools around finances:

https://ucaqld.com.au/synod-services/finance/

NSW Synod Property Services

A description of property and finances services in the NSW Synod:

https://nswact.uca.org.au/shared-resources/property/