Formation and Funding of a Kingdom Unity Fund

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12

We are grateful to be part of the body of Christ and part of our families of churches who are so committed to God, to each other, and to taking the good news of Jesus to every person. We are also grateful for the leadership God provides among our family to help us examine our faith to see how we can better serve God. Earlier this year, the ICOC 3.0 Forward by Faith discussions were held in every one of our 34 regional families around the globe including 2400 leaders. The results of those discussions stimulated the forming of five task forces to address areas of consensus. The Finances Task Force submits this report in response to the charge given to us to present options for funding for global needs.

As reported in the global discussion results, 78% of participants answered “Yes” to the question: “Do you believe that if given a clear explanation, and time for implementation, churches in your part of the fellowship would be open to supporting “brotherhood efforts”?

We already have experience in collective financing for benevolence through HOPE worldwide and global communication through Disciples Today and ICOC Hot News. Recently the Delegates established the ICOC Events non-profit to coordinate Delegates-sponsored events.

Needs for possible worldwide funding have been identified by the Conflict Resolution, Structure, and Communications Task Forces. The focus of the Finances Task Force, therefore, is to discuss means by which unified funding can be structured and managed to achieve purposes defined by the Forward by Faith deliberations.

Biblical Principles

Scripture supports the concept of funds being collected and pooled for purposes beyond a local ministry. Paul gathered funds from churches in Europe and Asia for support of the church in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, the established approach was collections among the churches, with the funds held until they were brought together, carried to Jerusalem and entrusted to the church there. No formalized banking structures existed then, so the funds were surely represented exclusively in cash.

Attention was paid to the administration and accountability of those funds. In 2 Corinthians 8:16-24, Paul endorsed Titus and two other brothers who would accompany him, all of whom were known or attested to by the churches for their trustworthiness in handling this task.

Finances Task Force Proposed Options:

1. Creation of a Non-Profit Unity Entity –

  • Option A: Since there is consensus among leaders globally to consider supporting brotherhood efforts and since financial needs are being identified by the Task Forces to address their areas, the Finances Task Force recommends that we establish a non-profit Unity Entity that can oversee funds for brotherhood needs.
  • Option B: Brotherhood needs would be handled without global funding or coordination. A range of alternative solutions could be found. One example would be to continue the current solicitation of individual churches to meet needs as they arise. Another example would be to leave it to the regional families of churches to coordinate funding within their own regions, if they so choose.

2. Oversight and Accountability of the Unity Entity

If Option A is the consensus of the Delegates at the Chicago meeting in October, the next conceptual decision is how to provide oversight and accountability. As a non-profit corporation, the Unity Entity would be governed by a Board of Directors comprised of an appropriate representation of the ICOC worldwide body. The entity’s finances and disbursements will be transparent, with accountability to the global leadership structure. Periodic review will be applied to the effectiveness of all disbursements made from the Unity Fund.

The Finance Task Force suggests the following concept options for selection of the Board of Directors to govern the Unity Entity:

  • Board Selection Option A: Diverse representation with nomination from the following groups (or their future equivalents):
    • One (1) of the Directors nominated by the Administrative Service Team
    • One half (1/2) of the remaining Directors nominated by the Elders & Evangelists Service Teams (or their equivalents); [3 or 4 Directors, depending upon the size of the Board];
    • One half (1/2) of the remaining Directors nominated by the Regional Chairmen; [3 or 4 Directors, depending upon the size of the Board];
    • With the goal that at least two (2) of the Directors be from outside the Service Teams (or their equivalents)
  • Board Selection Option B: Primarily Regional Family representation with nomination from the following groups (or their future equivalents):
    • One (1) of the Directors nominated by the Administrative Service Team
    • One (1) or two (2) of the Directors nominated by the Elders & Evangelists Service Teams (or their equivalents);
    • All of the remaining Directors nominated by the Regional Chairmen;
    • With the goal that no more than two (2) of the Directors be from the same continent

Next Steps

As explained in the ICOC 3.0 process, “The Task Forces would then refine the selected conceptual solution with a more thorough study over the coming months resulting in specific proposals that will be submitted for discussion and approval through the Delegates Proposal Process in 2018.” If the Delegates select the option to create a non-profit Unity Entity, then the Finances Task Force will follow this direction to create a specific proposal. Below are recommendations that we have for that future proposal:

Recommendations for Board

  • Optimal number for Board members is 7-9 people.
  • The Board will select its own chairperson.
  • Board members would serve for two-year terms for a maximum of two (2) terms, with a set rotation of members leaving the board periodically to provide experience coupled with fresh perspectives and insights
  • The Board may appoint officer(s) to manage the Unity Entity who are not members of the Board of Directors (e.g., an administrative secretary/treasurer)
  • Procedures and guidelines for disbursement should be adopted to expedite disbursement of funds within proper limits (i.e., limits of authority on how much can be disbursed upon what level of approval)

Biblical Principles for Funding

The Bible encourages giving for non-local needs and praises those who give out of their own poverty. All churches should be given the opportunity to contribute, although this should be done on a completely voluntary basis (2 Corinthians 8:1-7). The Bible also supports the principles of making financial commitments in advance of the time of collection and of making administrative preparation for collections (2 Corinthians 9:1-5).

Recommendation for Sources of Funds

Assuming that approval is reached for the Unity Fund concept, the Finances Task Force recommends that the funding be requested through an Appeal prefaced with a presentation of the needs, with flexible options for collection, as described below:

Recommendations for Solicitation of Funding

  • Participation would be voluntary. Each church would be permitted to participate or decline based on their individual decisions.
  • An annual projected need could be estimated and a targeted “Ask” could then be suggested based on the approximate membership or budgets of the churches in the “developed” world. The “Ask” might be based on a per-member count or it might be based on a percentage of the contribution budget of the developed world churches.
  • In every situation, churches could elect to contribute more, less or nothing to the Unity Entity. There would be no accountability imposed upon the Ask.
  • All churches would be encouraged to consider contributing toward the funding, but only the churches in the developed world would be specifically asked to provide a pledge or projected gift. In other words, none of the churches would be discouraged from participating if they desire to do so.
  • Churches choosing to participate could include their pledge within a special missions contribution (e.g., “for kingdom unity”) or collect it in other ways.
  • “Seed money” could be solicited through specific fund-raising requests:
    • Private donors could be asked to pledge a donation for the first few years with a goal of perhaps $100,000/year – (e.g., 100 individuals pledging $1,000/year, etc).
    • Larger churches (e.g., those with memberships over 1,000) could be asked to pledge an amount (e.g., $5,000) as seed money for the 1st year.
  • Based upon the budgets and expenditures of the Unity Entity during its first three (3) years, the suggested Ask would be adjusted. There need be no expectation that the Entity would continue to expand in funding beyond what is reasonably needed based on actual experience and practice, so the governing Board (relying on the guidance of the collective kingdom leadership) would propose an amount annually for voluntary participation by churches and others.
  • In the same way, there need not be any expectation that the Entity will disburse all funds received each year. It should be acceptable to carry a financial balance forward from year to year, again with the understanding that any annual “Ask” would be adjusted appropriately based on the balance of currently available funds and the estimation of ongoing needs.

We eagerly await the Holy Spirit’s direction among us. We fully acknowledge that our reliance is on the power of God to work through whatever plans he reveals.

ICOC 3.0 Finances Task Force

  • Chairman – Dan Liu, Hong Kong – Elder; Elders Service Team
  • Connie Beene, New York – Administrator; Administrative Service Team
  • Tom Briscoe, Dallas – Chairman, Administrative Service Team
  • Francis Dasse, Abidjan, Ivory Coast – Evangelist
  • Bill Hooper, Dallas –  Elder; Elders Service Team
  • Randy McKean, Northern Virginia – Elder/Evangelist; Evangelist Service Team
  • Paul Rowden, London – Elder/Administrator; Administrative Service Team
  • Jerry Sugarman, Los Angeles – Elder; Elders Service Team