I currently serve as the Board President of the largest social service agency in Eastern Connecticut. What makes this particular agency unique is that it is actually a shared ministry of over 30 local churches that have come together to leverage resources, providing emergency assistance in the areas of food, shelter and clothing.
In short, our mission is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and care for the stranger (homeless) in our midst. There are few missions closer to the heart of Jesus — and more central to the church — than this.
While it is a collective ministry of the member churches — and these churches provide a significant amount of funding — the bulk of the money for the mission comes from town contracts, state grants and and other government sources.
In today’s economic climate, it is very likely that some of the funding we have relied upon in the past will not be there in the future. One of the questions we are constantly asking as a Board is what will we do if we were to lose $50,000 or even $100,000 of funding from the town or state?
But increasingly I think there is a more fundamental question: WHY CAN’T THE MISSION BE FULLY FUNDED BY THE CHURCH COMMUNITY?
In other words, should the Body of Christ really be relying on the state (government) to fund our mission?
And if not, what would it take to get there?
I don’t have all the answers to these questions yet. We talk about and discuss them all the time. I am both an idealist — believing that what SHOULD be CAN BE — but also a pragmatist, recognizing that realistically we can leverage state money in ways that are more effective in terms of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and caring for the poor.
Part of me feels like we should simply take the total annual budget of the organization, divide it by the number of member churches, and all step up and make it happen — understanding that this is the cost of fulfilling Christ’s mission as a church.
And another part of me fundamentally believes in partnership between church, state and private sector.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
IS THERE A “RIGHT” ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION?
WHAT ARE OTHER EXAMPLES YOU KNOW OF WHERE CHURCHES ARE WORKING IN THIS KIND OF PARTNERSHIP?