If Someone Gave $1 Million to NewThing…

Posted by: Julie on Saturday, May 17th, 2008


This week I had the pleasure of spending time with our 17 NewThing Affiliates, our lead pastors from all 17 NewThing Affiliate churches across the country.  What an impressive group this is.  These guys are entrepreneurial, innovative, committed, and relentlessly devoted to catalyzing a movement of reproducing churches that help people find their way back to God.  I love it!

During a portion of our time together, I had the privilege of talking with them for a bit regarding our NewThing financial model.  I asked them the question, “If someone gave $1 million to NewThing, what would we do with it?”  Obviously, we could absolutely find ways to use that money in a powerful way.  The sustainability and reproducibility of that dollar, however, is not as strong as it would be with a clear pipeline of where we are channeling our financial endeavors for maximium impact.

For example, if we choose to invest our dollars into Leadership Residents, then we could say, give $50,000 to NewThing and that will sponsor 10 Leadership Residents at stipends of $5,000 each.  Those Leadership Residents, through our Residency program over 6-12 months, will then become equipped to raise funds and launch the planting of a NewThing church – an average launch cost of $250,000.  So with 10 residents times $250,000 per church plant, essentially your $50,000 has reproduced 50 times to $2,500,000 across those 10 church plants.

But is that what we want to do?  Maybe we’d rather channel the finances through acquiring new affiliate churches who are desiring to become reproducing churches – church planters who haven’t yet planted (or who have recently planted) but who don’t currently have a reproducing DNA.  Do we pour finances into them and help equip them to have a reproducing DNA so that those funds are then reproduced through additional campuses and church plants of that church?

But is that what we want to do?  Maybe we’d rather expand our influence through conferences and events and continue equipping churches nationwide in the reproducing and multi-site movement…

We definitely have some ideas, but we haven’t yet settled on a defined plan.  What should we do?  How should we invest our NewThing dollar for maximum impact in catalyzing a movement of reproducing churches that will help more people find their way back to God?

5 Responses to “If Someone Gave $1 Million to NewThing…”

Matt Mehaffey Says:
May 19th, 2008 at 7:04 pm

I like how you are thinking Julie.

Looking at the pipeline, I think we may be missing a step under the “Pre Launch” section. After “join a reproducing NewThing network” I think it would better for the new church planter to have a reproducing coach from the network he was a part of.

I hired a coach who helped me (actually helps me) think through tough decisions in planting a church but he has never really been a part of a “reproducing church.” Now that we are launched and setting goals to reproduce campuses and churches it would be helpful to enter into a coaching relationship with a NewThing Affiliate pastor who has led his church from one campus to two. For instance, if Brian Moll @ Forefront (who is in the network that I am in) had two or three sites and I am a new church planter trying to navigate how to reproduce a church perhaps Brian could coach me and teach me what he learned through the process.

All that to say, a portion of that million could go towards expenses for quality coaching to new church planters who join the NewThing network.

Nate Says:
May 20th, 2008 at 9:16 am

Hope this isn’t too long. But here’s my 2 cents.

First, Leadership Residents like Aaron Monts or before him Dave Dummit, Brian Moll, etc. are a priority investment. Without these great leaders being trained, you could pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into a church plant and have it be a dud. Much better an investment of tens of thousands into a leadership resident first.

Second, an Interest free loan or greatly reduced interest loan for new churches to buy land or office space or get started would a great help.
In our church, we now are paying $1833 a month in a land loan at 6.75%. With no interest that would be paid off in 11 years. With interest it is a 20 year loan. We did the 20 year loan to keep our payment down and help us with cash flow and plan to raise the $240,000 in a stewardship campaign. Churches and people in general waste so much money in interest.

With an interest free loan or greatly reduced rate the money continues to be recycled and helps people for years and years to come.
New churches need huge amounts of money to get started. Cash flow wise it would be such a huge help to have a interest free loan.
Plus, the money essentially could be recycyled and used the next new church and so on.

Third, your question kind of feels like the chicken or the egg, which comes first.

Yes, we need money to plant churches. But you also need a great lead pastor, a great staff, and a great core group.
When God provides the right leader/s, the right training (Leadership residency) and the right core team, it would feel like an easy investment.


Jeff Pessina Says:
May 21st, 2008 at 8:01 am

Hi Julie;

I do not have any numbers to offer, so in that respect I have no idea how much the following woudl require in dollars.

But my experience, which (in this area) I still consider “limited” tells me that when it comes to investing in leaders, the seminar/conference thing carries a low ROI. This may be a pessimistic view, but I have struggled with the question of attempting to significantly influence leaders already established in a certain set of routines or disciplines (ruts) in merely 2 or 3 days. And I emphasize the word “significantly.” Seminars have some impact… but in the long view I have little doubt investing –carefully, selectively– in highly intentional leadership residencies would bring bigger dividends in respect to fueling a movement. If the seminars were used more as a first step point-of-contact, leading to next steps, that would be great.

Though I am not clear on the CCC model, I would think the questions of “where,” “what,” and “how” in regards to a highly intentional residency program (that deliberately pushes a particular DNA-envelope) may still require serious thought and direction. Do we have a deliberately established program that presses hard to produce the diamonds we seek? (A program that presses several sacred leadership tenets that CCC may feel are critical DNA components?)

I also believe there are incredible opportunities to work in places like the Philippines where new and open vessels can be invested in; and where the costs per residency/internship would be a fraction of the cost.

All in all, my vote goes for investing in all aspects of developing a high quality process of identifying and developing next generation of leaders.


Greg Lee Says:
May 23rd, 2008 at 11:40 am


I love the thinking on this.

I agree that it feels like the leadership pipeline is a clear priority. I think leadership residencies are part of that. Perhaps teh question becomes…what is the best level to fund those resindents at? I think we all agree that not making it “cushy” helps us find those who have the right and real motivations.

One idea…what about “scholarshipping” new churches in their “fee” to NewThing. I think the $$ is a barrier that keeps some other good churches from joining the movement and capturing what it truly means to be reproducing. Even more, I think those new churches that currently send their money to new thing would free that money up to truly be used to plant/reproduce more churches (maybe we would even do some accountability for that?). Maybe this would last 2-3 years after launch. I’m convinced once churches with high capacity leaders are “in”, they will see the benefit.

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