This isn't the first time Andrew's posts have made me feel a little uncomfortable. And it won't be the last. And I'm glad about that. He's a guy who keeps me itching. But, I have to say, the post did flag some questions for me about some of the foundations of the emerging movement.
This kind of thing really wears me out but its a necessary part of mission work and getting the job done. My previous mode of working was to ignore the Foundations and do everything without money as much as I could. But Donors also want to play a part in the Great Commission. Especially the more exciting stuff that I have been involved in this past decade -the mission of God in the global emerging culture - and I have a responsibility to make space in the playground for them also.
It seems trite these days to go back to asking what Jesus would have done, but I think it's a serious point. The gospels suggest that the merry band shared a common purse, and that they probably welcomed gifts. But did they go out fundraising? I wonder if it's a point about gift theory. If you put together a Christmas present funding proposal to your parents about how exactly they are going to get that great gift you so want, and what a boon it would be to your life, is that present still 'gift'? I think something of the gift is destroyed by the proposal.
Vaux was a very small project. I remember going to see the Bishop of London at the House of Lords and him sitting down saying 'So what do you want to see me for? Do you need some money?' His jaw almost hit the floor when we said we didn't. We accepted gifts, sure. But we never went out fundraising. Why? Because it seemed right to live within our means.
I love Schumacher's principle of Small is Beautiful and sometimes wonder if much of the industrial mission machine has moved away from this. The subtitle of his work is 'A Study of Economics As If People Mattered', and it is of course the relational that is central to all we do. How much funding should we need for that?
If these donors want to 'get in' on the global emerging culture, why not just give freely? Oh - because they want to make sure their money is being used wisely. How can they do that? As Andrew hints, they need to get relational. But much more so than they might already be doing. Forget the funding forms and spin culture.
I recently went to speak at a large, modern, beautiful church and was speaking to one of the congregation about the building. 'It's horrendous!' they moaned. 'It's costing us so much to keep up'. So sell it. Live within your means. Accept gifts. And if that means scaling back some big projects, fine. The Church™ will survive.