Soup & a Sermon to Mega-Mission
Foreword to From Soup & a Sermon to Mega-Mission

This book is based largely upon the "tried and true" experiences of individuals who have been involved for many years in rescue missions.

The book is also based upon recent (1994) information derived from the Christian Stewardship Association (CSA) Study and an earlier (1993) study -- the Pepperdine Study. (Both studies were based upon responses from many rescue mission directors in all parts of the country and funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc.) Those coordinating the development of the book depended upon extended personal inter views with rescue mission directors who form the core of expertise for the many practical suggestions about how to strengthen the financing of rescue ministries.

Of course, the book does not cover all topics relevant to financing, but several key topics are considered -- the executive director's role, the use of volunteers, acquisition of and direct mail techniques for reaching donors, the management of the development department, and maximizing the role of the board. Each of these topics is a chapter with helpful, tested suggestions.

The first chapter sets up the social context and what rescue directors believe about their work. Following is a consideration of the five selected, relevant areas. The final chapter identified some issues for the future.

If the book accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish, the people in rescue ministries who read it will be better equipped to cope with current fiscal circumstances as they serve the Lord ministering to those whom Jesus loved.

Ivan J. Fahs, Editor

From the Project Director and Editor-in-Chief

Often our image of American religion is of a white church with a steeple in the center of a small New England town surrounded by fall colors or the image of a beautiful stained glass window. While formal churches do comprise the central focus of American religious activities, parachurch organizations are growing rapidly in size, influence, and importance of spiritual activity. Camps, foreign missions, social services, literature distribution, media outlets, educational institutions, rescue missions, outreach and denominational headquarter operations (to name just a few) are all playing an increasing role in American religion.

Some panic as they view these shifts in our society toward parachurch organizations. To some of the traditionalists, parachurch groups are religion gone entrepreneurial. Their critics charge them with imbalance, doctrinal indifference, and exploitation of believers for money and people. Despite these concerns, the parachurch continues to grow in size and influence. In fact, some studies suggest that almost half of the giving among church attendees today is going to parachurch functions other than the local church.

In spite of this growth, little is known about this diverse group of organizations and little has been done to study the financing, in particular, of these organizations. To address the need for more normative research data on this topic, the Lilly Endowment, Inc., funded a project entitled: "A Study of the Financing of Selected American Protestant Parachurch Organizations." This study was guided by seven inter-related purposes to:

  1. improve information and knowledge
  2. develop in sights into financing issues
  3. report on theological insights gained on how faith relates to financing
  4. gain insight into motivations behind giving
  5. encourage discussion on the meaning of money and stewardship
  6. build a foundation for future efforts; and
  7. provide useful publications.

This comprehensive project embraced eight distinctive constituent groups:

  1. broadcast media
  2. Christian camps
  3. Christian schools (K-12)
  4. denomination headquarters
  5. foreign missions
  6. outreach ministries
  7. rescue missions; and
  8. social services.

Comparable questionnaires were sent to samples of agencies within each category. A book was published for each of the eight categories. A ninth summary book is co-authored by Wesley K. Wilimer and J. David Schmidt.

J. David Schmidt & Associates, a marketing agency located in Wheaton, Illinois, was assigned responsibility for questionnaire design, data collection, tabulation, and project coordination. J. David Schmidt. was associate project director for research, and his staff includes David Bea, Karen Riley, Kathy Brammeier, and Lucinda Armas. This capable team provided significant support for the entire project, for which I am grateful.

A multifaceted project such as this one covering several years involves scores of capable people who cannot all be listed here. I would like, however, to mention several -- ;in addition to those from J. David Schmidt & Associates -- who played a pivotal role. Special acknowledgement goes to the Lilly Endowment, Inc. for the funding which made this project possible and programs officer Fred Hofheinz for his vision and encouragement throughout this project. Former Christian Stewardship Association president Norman Edwards and former board chair Stan Thompson gave their endorsement when I first initiated the idea. Christian Stewardship Association treasurer Ron Simers faithfully coordinated the finances throughout, and the full board was always supportive. Current Christian Stewardship Association president Brian Kluth has provided constant encouragement as well.

Any project I undertake is possible only with the support of my colleagues at Biola University, such as Joan Wilson, Karen Denny, and, especially, President Clyde Cook and the understanding of my wife, Sharon, and children, J. Brian, A. Kristell, and Stephen. Lastly, a hearty thanks to each of the eight authors who remained with their task over several years to see the final product become a reality.

While this total project has made great strides in providing normative research data on the financing of parachurch organizations, it is also only an initial study which establishes some stepping stones and benchmarks for future research. It is my sincere desire that these studies will advance our understanding of the financing of American religion to make available the appropriate religious resources necessary to strengthen and revitalize our culture through a personal relationship with God.

Wesley K. Wilimer, Project Director and Editor-in-Chief
Vice President, Biola University, La Mirada, California