From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Church Leadership Recommends New Directions

From "Communication Ministries" <>
Date Thu, 13 Dec 2001 12:15:25 -0500

Application of Mission Funds 
Date: December 12, 2001
Disciples News Service
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Contact: Curt Miller
on the Web:


	NEW ORLEANS (DNS) - Leaders of regional, general and
higher education ministries of the Christian Church
(Disciples of Christ) are recommending sweeping new
approaches to the funding of ministries beyond the doors of
Disciples congregations.  

	In a meeting of the Team Leadership Conference (TLC) in
New Orleans Nov. 28-29, regional ministers, general
ministries executives and representatives of Disciples
higher education institutions struggled with issues related
to the allocation of Basic Mission Finance (BMF) funds and
Special Day Offering gifts, the need to shift from
"allocative thinking" to "innovative thinking" in mission
and ministry, and the need to develop multiple streams of
funding for the work of the general, regional and
theological and higher education ministries of the church.
The discussions and resulting proposals are built on the
recommendations of a Mission Funding Task Force made up of
general, regional and higher education ministry
representatives who met several times in 2001. 

	"It's clear to me that after many, many years of
attempting to resolve mission funding problems by finding
some new way of allocating the funds ...  that ... God
spoke to us by helping us understand that we've got to
focus on the mission of the church and not on the money of
the church," said the Rev. Chris Hobgood, Capital Area
regional minister and chair of the Mission Funding Task

	"It was a very credible beginning. I was pleased that it
called upon the different manifestations of the church to
work out with one another how the church's mission is
supported," said the Rev. Mark Miller-McLemore, dean,
Disciples Divinity House, Vanderbilt University Divinity
School,  and a representative of Disciples theological
education at the meetings. Miller-McLemore said there is
more work to be done to enrich the spiritual dimensions of
the funding allocation process. "The theological education
representatives are hopeful that a greater theological
understanding of church will be embodied in the documents
as well as in the practice that is being described by those
documents," he said. "At this point, it's still more about
allocations than innovation, more institution than

	The TLC participants agreed to fundamental changes in the
way they share BMF and Special Day gifts. The partners
agreed that starting in 2003, regions would receive 45
percent of regular BMF receipts; general ministries will
receive 45 percent; and higher education institutions will
receive 10 percent.  After the first year of that
allocation formula, the regions' share would increase one
percent a year for five years after which there will be an
evaluation. In 2001, under the present system, regions
receive just under 40 percent of BMF gifts. General
ministries receive just under 48 percent, and theological
and higher education gets just under 10 percent.  The rest
of the funding goes to the Adjustment and Mission
Imperative Funds. 

	Special Day Offering receipts would be shared as follows:
the Easter offering would go to general ministries for
implementation of the 2020 Vision; the Pentecost offering
would be applied to general and regional evangelism and new
church establishment ministries; the Thanksgiving offering
would go to higher education for clergy and lay leader
development; and the Christmas offering would go to
regional ministries for congregational vitality.

-- more --add 1-1-1/tlc
Disciples News Service 

	The TLC agreement also calls for the identification of
short-term critical financial needs among BMF partners. 
Those needs would be met BMF partners who are able to give
back up to one percent of their 2001 allocations. 

	The TLC recommendations call for the elimination of the
Commission on Mission Funding, a primarily lay group that
has, for years, determined BMF allocations for regions,
general ministries and higher education institutions. 
Instead, the College of Regional Ministers and general and
theological and higher education ministries executives
would develop means of allocating BMF funds received by
their ministry groups. Congregational leaders would be
involved in the allocation processes that are developed.

	The Adjustment Fund, now a set-aside portion of Basic
Mission Finance receipts, available to ease hardship or
correct funding disparities, would be eliminated.  Instead,
the ministry groups themselves would decide how to deal
with hardship within the group. 

	The Mission Imperative Fund would continue as a source of
funding for new and innovative forms of mission and
ministry related to the vision for the church. 

	Long term strategies named in the agreement include: 

	- Development of multiple funding sources to relieve
one-fund dependence

	- Affirm the whole church nature of mission funding,
giving Disciples members designated giving opportunities

	- Engaging and training members of congregations to help
interpret and advocate for the mission and    ministry of
the wider church in congregations

	- Fund raising training for BMF recipients

	Working teams have been established to refine these and
other strategies. 

	During the meeting, James Johnson, president, Christian
Church Foundation, announced his unit would offer every
region a two-day consultation with regional staff and lay
leaders to develop specific plans for fund raising in a

	Hobgood sensed that the New Orleans conference inspired a
major shift in the church's thinking about mission and
ministry.  "We're thinking now about how the resources can
be relayed to those mission points in the church's life
that really are working to enable congregations to do their
ministry," he said. "The people who participated really
sensed that movement away from a desperate let's stay
alive mode'  to let's do what God wants us to do.'"

	"I must admit that I was amazed and touched by the way in
which I saw the Holy Spirit moving among the regional,
general and educational leaders," said Richard Hamm,
general minister and president. "I am thrilled that we have
finally come to a proposal which helps to move us with
vision into God's mission for the church and to God's
future for the church." 

	The proposals will first be presented to the January 2002
meeting of the Administrative Committee.  If it approves
the recommendations, the General Board will consider them
later this year.  If General Board endorses the plans, they
will be considered by the boards of each of the BMF
recipient organizations and be implemented starting in

                             	-- end --

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