Eight years ago, a couple of young guys in Brooklyn were trying to answer a simple question: How can a struggling artist with a great idea or a prospective project or a creative inspiration find money to pursue his or her dreams?
The guys wondered how they could quickly and efficiently connect people with money with people with big ideas. They created a very simple website called Kickstarter in which artists pitched their projects, asked for funding, and then waited for people on the internet to agree to donate.
The concept was simple: every project had a funding goal and a deadline. If the goal wasn’t met by the deadline, then no funds were collected at all.
The first fully-funded project was little more than a joke — “Drawing for Dollars” collected $35 from three people to draw a couple of simple sketches. But the concept caught on.
The idea went “viral,” as they say. In 2012, the site celebrated its first million-dollar project, and kickstarter.com has never looked back.
I bring this up because I’d like to suggest that “crowdfunding” is not all that original. Local churches have been “crowdfunding” since the day of Pentecost. In fact, every time any church anywhere has an annual pledge campaign, they are “crowdfunding” — we are asking people to make a financial commitment to the church so that we can together accomplish our mission and reach the goals which God has given us.
That’s why we’ve decided to call the church’s 2018 pledge campaign, Kickstart KPUMC. Over the next three weeks, I’ll be preaching on three different stories about crowdfunding in the Bible (can you guess what they are?). Next week, you’ll receive a mailing in which we propose an ambitious 2018 budget.
I asked each of our staff department heads to propose at least one new programming initiative in order to “kickstart” their ministry. That means the proposed budget is a little higher than last year’s, but it also ensures that we will have some energy going into 2018.
And we will unveil a new page on our website which will keep a live, running total of the amount of money pledged. It will only be live for 21 days, during which time I hope that we will receive at least $385,000 in pledges — that’s our goal! Last year, we had $361,000 pledged, and I am convinced that we can easily reach this goal. I am so certain that I am ready to initiate a “stretch goal,” which is a term used when Kickstarter projects surpass their funding goal, and their creative team decides to raise the bar and go for more, offering new incentives to backers to reach an expanded, “stretched” goal.
There’s a kind of joy and excitement that comes when a group coalesces around a common purpose, and works together to accomplish that goal. I hope that happens in this year’s pledge campaign.
I hope we all get “kickstarted” to become better disciples of Jesus, and better stewards of God’s gifts.