DioCalCares: A Strawman for Mission and Ministry

DioCalCares: A Mission and Ministry Budget Strawman

By Gary L Hunt

The Diocesan Finance Department Working Group’s proposal would separate the DioCal budget into two parts:

DAB– Diocesan Administrative Budget would be mandatory and include the fixed and overhead costs of operating the Diocesan including salary, pension and other benefits of the Bishop and his staff, utilities, occupancy costs, communications, travel and maintenance for Diocesan buildings and facilities.

MMB—Mission and Ministry Budget would be voluntary and include the costs for direct staff, benefits and other costs for ministry program development, mission congregations, ethnic and multicultural ministries, area ministries which is Dio-speak for shared or collaborative programs, youth and young adult ministries, campus ministries, and the work of the various commissions of the diocese.

The details about how the proposal to divide the budget would work are yet to be defined.  That means there is an opportunity for parishes to define the details to best suit their needs before a final draft is presented to the Convention likely in 2011 for approval.  The objective here is to encourage robust discussion, frame issues and seek consensus among the parishes on how the MMB concept can be used to improve the mission and ministry work of the church.

What is DioCalCares?

DioCalCares is a strawman concept building upon the report of the Department of Finance Working Group proposal to separate the Diocese of California budget into two parts: an administrative budget and a mission and ministry program budget.  DioCalCares strawman is designed to create a parish driven area ministry collaborative to encourage parish and individual participation and target resources from parishes working together to make a material difference in the lives of those we serve—shaping and defining our beloved community by doing the work of the church.

What is a Strawman?

A strawman is an evolving working draft of a proposed concept that evolves over time as we discuss and consider principles, concepts, alternative structures and designs in a collaborative process to modify, refine and improve the proposal in the search for consensus.  A strawman allows us to ‘rehearse alternative futures’ and assess its implications for the Diocese, its parishes and those we serve in doing the mission and ministry work of the church.

DioCalCares Objectives

  1. Parish-driven leadership to grow the mission and ministry program work of the church expanding participation, leveraging resources, and better serving those in need.
  2. Define the Beloved Community of the Diocese by transforming lives through mission and ministry service beyond our current experience, working together in new ways, and stretching to take on new challenges beyond our reach to serve the Church.
  3. Expand the reach of existing parish ministry programs for use by other parishes, expand networking, collaboration and partnering between parishes to meet area ministry needs, build good relationships between parishes to improve ministry for those we serve.
  4. Work together to create new ministry programs through a collaborative process of networking, information sharing, joint program development and mutual aid to improve the quality and effectiveness of services.
  5. Grow the church by planting new mission congregations leveraging parish efforts beyond the diocese in the mission and ministry work of the church to reach good causes, solve pressing needs, and bring the Good News to those who seek it wherever God calls us.

DioCalCares Proposed Organization, Business Model and Funding

501c3 Organization Structure: DioCalCares could be organized like Episcopal Charities as a 501c3 nonprofit corporation under the IRS Code associated with but independent of the Diocese of California.  It would have its own Board of Directors selected by the participating parishes.  The Bishop or his designee would be an ex officio member of the Board of Directors.

Membership: Parishes or non-profit 501c3 organizations that enter into and maintain a valid participation agreement approved by the Board of Directors could be members DioCalCares.

Board of Directors:  Imagine parishes selecting a Board of Directors of nine members for staggered three year terms casting votes for the Board equal to its DioCal convention delegates.  Non parish 501c3 participants would each have one vote.  The Bishop or his designee would be a full voting member. The Board should select its own Chair and Vice Chair, keep and publish its agenda and minutes, and be accountable to the members for the following:

  1. Approve Participation Agreements: DioCalCares should be funded by multi-year participation agreements with the parishes or other agencies.  The participation agreements would specify the funding level and term the parish is committing to in order to participate in its voluntary mission and ministry programs.  The participation agreements, however, would be legally binding contracts between the parties to develop, produce, fund and deliver the ministry programs and mission activities agreed to by the parties. DioCalCares may also enter into participation agreements with community organization and other social and human services agencies qualified and appropriate to its mission and ministry programs and to apply for, accept and administer grants, foundation awards and other contracts for service consistent with law and its mission.
  2. Adopt a DioCalCares Ten year Mission and Ministry Strategy:  The DioCalCares Board would collaboratively develop a ten year long term mission and ministry program strategy with the active involvement of the parishes.  The ten year strategy approved by the Board would guide mission and ministry program development, help parishes set priorities for ministry, drive investments in mission and congregational development by providing a strategic big picture overview of the work of the church in the mission and ministry areas targeted.  The ten year strategy would be reviewed periodically and updated by the parishes and the DioCalCares Board to keep it current.
  3. Maintain a DioCalCares Ministry Mutual Aid Network.  The Board shall maintain a current online inventory of the current mission and ministry programs of every parish or organization signing a participation agreement in a standard form and format approved by the Board.  In addition, the inventory would also include unmet needs, underserved populations, and requests for assistance from parishes unable to meet those needs on their own.  The goal of the Ministry Mutual Aid Network is to identify useful programs or compelling ministry needs and encourage parishes to work together.  The Network enables parishes to explore new ideas for ministry.  DioCalCares encourages networking and mutual aid back up to improve ministry training, dialog, and sharing to improve the experience for those we serve.
  4. Approve DioCalCares Three Year Program Plans: The Board would designate the mission and ministry programs to be undertaken, approve a three program plan for each developed and recommended by the program participants, and consistently evaluate its financial and service performance against the approved plan.  Each ministry program would be evaluated each year by participants, providing a report card for the year ending, a ministry work plan, budget, performance objectives for the year ahead, and validate that signed parish participation agreements are sufficient to reasonably fund and deliver the service proposed.
  5. DioCalCares Annual Mission and Ministry Program Conference. Each year the Board shall sponsor a conference of all the participants offering workshops, ministry training, and the opportunity to hear proposals for new mission and ministry proposals for consideration by the parishes.  As part of the conference, participants will have the opportunity to update or revise their participation agreements adding new ministry programs for the three years ahead, dropping programs past their time, or invite others to join with them to create a new program to meet special needs.

Comparing DioCalCares Funding vs Finance Department Work Group Financing Model.

DioCalCares uses a funding model that is different from the one proposed by the Finance Department working group, but it seeks to achieve the same goal of revitalizing the overall Diocesan level of effort toward mission and ministry over time.

DioCalCares is not designed to raise money for mission and ministry.  DioCalCares is designed to engage the parishes to actually do mission and ministry by offering a marketplace of ministry programs, services and a collaborative process for working together in the believe that where the heart of the parishes is engaged in doing God’s work their time, talent and treasure will surely follow.

DioCalCares solves the problem of parishes feeling the Diocesan assessment is a “tax on the parishes” that they have little control over while their mission and ministry support needs go unmet.  DioCalCares teaches parishes to fish for themselves by rolling up their sleeves and doing God’s work around the community, across the Diocese and wherever in the world God calls us to serve.

The funding model differences are as followings:

  • DioCalCares would be a member funded, parish-driven mission and ministry program marketplace.  It receives funds from its members in the form of financial participation agreements which represent the voluntary assessment of member parishes of the Diocese of California over and above their Diocesan Administrative Budget assessment.  The participation agreement is designed to cover the costs of the ministry programs the parish chooses plus the shared cost of developing new ministry options.  Its goal is to facilitate the mission and ministry work of the church by creating a market place for programs and enabling the parishes to serve the needs of their parish, the Diocesan community beyond their campus, and the broader mission of the church.
  • The Finance Department Working Group recommended a voluntary level of parish giving to support the mission and ministry work of the church as a percentage of each parish’s TOI in excess of $62,000 increasing from 3% to 8% of parish income over a six year ramp up.

DioCalCares Proposed Mission and Ministry Categories-vs-Finance Dept Proposal

The major philosophical difference between the Department of Finance Working Group proposal and the DioCalCares strawman is the latter’s policy and spiritual goal of getting the parishes to step up to the mission and ministry work of the church by creating a framework to facilitate such leadership and collaboration action. Today the parishes more often than not wait for leadership from the diocese or send their assessment payments to the Diocese and hope some of it trickles down to causes they support.

When Jesus said, “follow me”—he did not mean hang around until I have to come down there to turn more water into wine for you again, people!  He gave us a commandment to love others as He loved us.

DioCalCares lives into that commandment teaching us to fish. The Department of Finance proposal encourages us to keep sending checks and wait patiently for the diocese to throw some fish in our boat  DioCalCares is designed to bring the people back to the shore line with their fishing poles.

DioCalCares organizes the categories of mission and ministry differently than the Department of Finance Working Group proposed but the intent is to serve the same needs.  What’s the difference?

  • DioCalCares is parish driven not Diocese-driven.  It seeks parish involvement and focuses on categories and ministries most likely to achieve that goal by growing the mission and ministry of the church.  DioCalCares seeks to change the way mission and ministry are imagined, developed, and delivered across the Diocese turning the parishes into advocates and champions for ministry instead of complainers.
  • DioCalCares is collaborative but not bureaucratic.  It is focused on producing ministry results for those we seek to serve through the work of the parishes not raising money for administrative overhead costs. DioCalCares assumes that WE are the Diocese of California and that God expects us to get to work on our own initiative to follow Jesus.
  • DioCalCares is Mission and Ministry Driven not Money Driven.  It believes that getting the parishes and congregations hooked on mission and ministry will drive their financial commitment faster and farther than taxing them to do it.  DioCalCares wants them to get to work not just write a check.

The Finance Department Working Group proposed the following categories of mission and ministry asking the parishes to allocate their 3% to 8% voluntary assessment among them:

  1. “MISSION CONGREGATIONS: support congregations moving from mission to parish status and churches with specific development needs.
  2. OUTREACH MINISTRIES: Episcopal and ecumenical agencies, networks, diocesan committees and chaplaincies that represent collective efforts to minister to others.
  3. DIOCESAN SUPPORT MINISTRIES: resources for congregations through commissions, committees and divisions that work to enable congregational potential.
  4. ETHNIC AND MULTI-CULTURAL MINISTRIES: promoting ministries that cross the cultural, racial and ethnic boundaries of our society and show us more fully the face of the Church.
  5. OUTSIDE DIOCESAN SUPPORT: supporting the work of the Episcopal Church, Millennium Development Goals and missionary work.”

DioCalCares Mission and Ministry strawman offers an alternative way to organize categories of mission and ministry to focus on parish growth, vitality, and congregational development to grow the church; transforming the lives of the unserved or underserved with ministry programs that make a real difference; and planting new congregations and doing the mission work of the church wherever God calls us to serve as follows:

  1. FACILITATE PARISH GROWTH AND CONGREGATIONAL DEVELOPMENT. Assist parishes create and deliver meaningful worship and parish life experiences that grow participation in the work of the church doubling pledge units and average attendance in the Diocese of California every ten years by strategies to:
  • welcome the faithful and support parish growth, vitality and transition,
  • serve the unchurched and underserved with targeted ministry programs,
  • support congregations moving from mission to parish status and
  • plant new congregations in areas of need with specific development assistance.
  1. CELEBRATE INCLUSIVE MINISTRY IN EVERY PARISH.  Assist parishes develop and provide ministry programs to welcome all, include all and celebrate all our rich multi-cultural, ethnic and LGBT parish membership by providing specialized resources that enhance congregation potential and fuller participation of all members in parish life and the work of the church.
  2. OUTREACH TO THE POOR, SICK, HURTING AND UNDERSERVED. Create a Diocesan-wide network of parish programs, community services organizations, chaplaincies and other resources to leverage the time, talent and treasure of parish resources available to transform the lives of those in need.
  3. SERVING GOD AND THE CHURCH IN THE WORLD BEYOND OUR DIOCESE. Support the work of the Church, Millennium Development Goals and missionary work beyond our Diocese.
  4. ENGAGING THE FAITHFUL IN THE WORK OF THE CHURCH. No man is an island—and neither are the parishes of God’s church.  DioCalCares seeks to create a collaborative framework to learn from each other, experiment with new program ideas, leverage our resources by working together, and celebrate the gifts God has given us and use them to transform lives within our parishes and beyond for the good providing resources for congregations that work to enable congregational potential.

It’s time to quit waiting for someone else to make things happen.  DioCalCares seeks to excite the faithful with opportunities for mission and ministry to serve God through the work of the church.  What are you waiting for?   Go make miracles happen through the power of God’s love.

Collaborative Ministry Examples and Resources

This strawman is an evolving work in progress designed to provide the Contra Costa Deanery and other across the Diocese of California with food for thought about alternative ways to organize, grow and support the mission and ministry work of the church.  Your comments and suggestions for changes or improvements are welcome.


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