Micro-finance for mission

Not so long ago I signed up to the excellent Kiva, which harnesses the power of the internet to raise finance for micro-finance groups all over the world. I’m all for it. Just the other day a lady in Cambodia repaid the first part of a $25 loan. I could take the money out and put it back in my pocket but, of course, I won’t do that. I’ll recycle the money and lend it to someone else and so increasing the amount of times my gift does some good.

This got me thinking, is there a space for micro-finance for mission and church planting? This is how I imagine it working. Let’s use an example of a family church planting in, say randomly, Sweden. They need £20k per year to live on for 3 years while starting a new church. You give to the church planting version of Kiva and then when the new church is up and running, over a few years the money is repaid recycling the funding back into the world of church planting.

Because this works mostly in the developed world where incomes and giving are high, these could attract a premium of say 10% or something that is then channelled off to cover repayments made to churches being planted in low income developing countries where church income may never get high enough to repay a loan.

Now the sum I presented isn’t micro but neither is it astronomical, and it’s a way in which mission agencies and churches which may be struggling to raise finance the traditional ways can find fresh and new partners to support mission work throughout the world.

Of course the obvious weakness is that it requires investment into rich countries in order to invest into poorer nations. Anyway it was a passing thought and the only way to get it improved is for brighter minds than mine to give it some thought! So over to you.

4 thoughts on “Micro-finance for mission”

  1. Thomashusbands says:

    Raising finance the traditional way? I thought there was only one way – I agree it is good to be creative, but are we not a family who is guided by the Holy Spirit to give as He tells us? That is giving through vision and obedience.
    The truth is church planting and mission models are failing and so are the finances. If we change how we teach and engage in both areas would a change in finances come too?I think this is more about world-view and asking congregations the right questions rather than how to ‘sell mission’ – we are already doing that and giving people the deal of what £10 will do – it is unhealthy as we cannot compete against Kiva or World Vision with websites and catchy videos etc.As a family we too use Kiva so the kids can choose and see the progress. Should mission or church plants be linked to success or from obedience? Funding as a gift to God, or a repayment or is it an investment in the Kingdom?Great topic – so I will keep musing!Tom

    1. Phil Whittall says:

      Hi Thomas, thanks for the comment. I don’t think churches should be linked to success because a loan can become a gift but in many places and times in developed nations we can refund gifts so they can be recycled to other worthy causes. And of course the reality is, as you say, that WV and Kiva compete and are better equipped. Perhaps a common pool would help otherwise small initiatives find a greater audience. Who knows? It was just some blue sky thinking!

      1. Tom says:

        I like the idea of gifts/resources having a journey and touching many lives – so like discipleship it is passed on and on and on – what you invest is multiplied.

        Why is there a lack of resources for church planting and mission? 

        It does concern me that these large organisations are skilfully promoting their work to Christians who can mouse click their gift to the other-side of the world. Relational face to face church planter/overseas ministries often require commitment from the church as a whole and there is a partnership opportunity which involves a  ‘cost’ in a deeper sense and this is so easily squeezed out. Give the church offering to Tearfund – we all feel better, but there is no relationship so somewhere it can feel hollow.

        Kiva and WV offer instant gratification as you give, which can often be guilt led rather than vision led. Did it really cost me anything to give that £50? But sure it makes me feel better – their website encourages me to post my gift to my FB status so my friends can see as well – what is my true motive for that posting and have I robbed myself of any blessing that was in my first motivation?

        Those in church planting/mission would be wise to observe this trend as our funding/partner base is shrinking due to the instant results and high powered marketing/websites offered by organisations with large resources.

        I loved the should ‘churches be excellent’ post last year. This topic touches on this a little, in how our work and calling is communicated.

        A battle of communication and presentation? If that is the case the small obedient ministry is surely in trouble…

        We cannot be all things to all people and compete with corporate goodness; with websites, blogs, online shop, video newsletters, have financially quantifiable ministry results, gap year opportunities, run a small business to make tents and also have a thriving family….oh and still have a relationship with God!

        1. Phil Whittall says:

          Some good points here Tom, the medium is the message and all that and technology can detach you as well as connect you. Obviously where relationships exist this is clearly the strongest form of connection that allows mission to take place. But in its best form an idea like this might help people genuinely share a good idea. I share a gift to Kiva  on facebook for example not so much so others know I’ve given but in the hope that they too might do the same. I’ll do some more thinking!

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