Here is the Why Not? question: What would happen to church effectiveness if we moved to a collaboration model verses an institutional model for content and resourcing content?
To better understand institution vs collaboration I highly recommend watching these TED Talks on the subject. Each is about 20 minutes long:
There are 4 points why to consider a paradigm shift:
God is the true owner of all things ministry.
A friend of mine once raised the wish that things could be given to the church. That the owner of an idea or concept was the church, not a particular church, author or creator. Having things “Copyright The Church” has numerous benefits. Theologically, it is already the truth though in law it is not.
Solomon tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. We further see in Scripture that every perfect gift is given from God above. While a controversial figure, Rush Limbaugh’s often quipped statement is a truth we should all carry with us: “Talent on loan from God.” The trinity enables us to perform ministry effectively. This points to the next idea.
“Non-professionals” often have significant contributions.
We often equate good ideas with success. Success, ideas and ability are are three different things. One may not have ability or success, but their idea may carry incredible impact. This is demonstrated when we only consider an idea based on its success. This is further demonstrated when we discount an idea based on a person’s inability to implement it.
The body principle of the church operates states: Every part of the body needs to do its part. God gives varying abilities and hence contributions to the body of Christ. For the church to succeed we need to open up the ability for each part to contribute what God has given them. This may only be one idea their entire life, and someone else may be the one who makes the idea succeed. An institutional model inhibits this from happening.
Small churches and church plants often lack great resources because of the cost.
Too often I have heard the statement: I could really us [insert name of resource] but our church does not have the money. The thought is ‘if it were really that important a church would find a way.’ This mindset neglects a key reality: Once one need gets met, another will arise. The church is again faced with the same resource challenge. Or worse, in meeting needs there is an opportunity that arises with no monetary resources to get materials (content) needed, even though they have the other resources needed to pull it off. This struggle is insane.
Where do we, and in we I mean the church, want our leadership teams to invest their energy? In trying to figure out how to gain content resources to meet people’s needs or in actually meeting people’s needs? Church plants, often the most effective form of evangelism, really could use the best the church (that’s all of us) has to offer. This leads into the fourth point…
Money invested in helping the poor and meeting needs should be more of a focus than obtaining rights to use content.
What if content became essentially free? How much greater impact would that have in meeting people’s needs? I realize these are very hard questions to answer, and that people’s livelihoods are affected by these questions. But, as a church, what is the overhead cost of how we develop our curriculum?
For a church of about 1,000 people, it costs about $4,350+ for a an excellent curriculum (access rights) and a club program (registration & books) for children’s ministry. Taking those funds elsewhere could look like:
At Children of the Nations (www.cotni.org) it costs $32 month to sponsor a child. A church of 1,000 could sponsor 135+ children at the cost of content. If 10 churches made that move, 1,350+ children could be fed a year.
Think of the total content budget for a church. How many native pastors could be supported? How many future pastors, missionaries, or church planters’ education could be supported? How many church plants supported? Native pastors are for more effective in reaching their country. Schooling debt is a major hurdle for gaining needed training for and then jumping into ministry. Church plants are often the most effective means of evangelism.
The bottom line:
Given today’s technology and the relatively low-cost of disseminating content, we are able to make a paradigm shift that was not available in times past. A new paradigm for content and resourcing our content has the potential to increase the impact of our churches, and better focus our resources on our mission.