In Which a Strange Plan Is Hatched on Facebook (News Bulletin)

A lot can happen in three days. Jesus rose again on the third day, you know. And over the last three days a lesser (but certainly related) drama has been unfolding before my eyes. I’m tempted to call it “the miracle on Facebook.”

Update: This plan is now live! Please click HERE to read all about it. If it gives you joy to join in, your help will be a great blessing!

Monday evening I posted this on Facebook, just for the fun of it:

If each of my blog subscribers would loan us $500, we could make a cash purchase right now on a home in Atlanta. Then we could pay back one creditor each month over the next 11 years, holding a draw to see who is the lucky loaner. That sounds kind of exciting, eh? Or here’s another option: If each of my Facebook friends would loan only $100, we’d be even further ahead. And we could pay back FIVE people each month!

Hey, they told me to think outside the box… 🙂

#GodWillProvide #StillDiscoveringHow

(Neither Zonya nor I can recall whether she had the idea first, or me, or if we both came up with the wacky suggestion at the same time.)

Pretty soon I was seeing comments like this:

Love it!

Its a deal.

Tell me where to send the money and whether I should send $100 or $500 🙂

I’d be glad to help.

Let’s do it!

And a bit later, comments like this one from businessman Jesse Kropf:

I like it… got my mind whirling on how you would track everything. 😉 It’s probably not likely that 100% of your FB friends will take you up on the offer, so how about this:

Crowdsource the loan on FB in increments of $250. Then you only need 310 p
eople to join in to reach your goal. Make it more attractive by promising to repay $275 for each segment of the loan, and you will pay back 2 segments per month by random drawing. 10% might sound like a lot, but it’s actually very little with this structure. With a regular 30 year mortgage, most people pay 100% interest over the life of the loan, with an APR in the 5% range.

So if one person decides to loan you $2500, they will be paid back in random segments of $250 + $25 interest, like everyone else. The money will return sometime in the next 11 years.

What do you think? I just might decide to try it myself… 😉

And this from a CPA named Rodney Troyer:

Referencing Jesse’s comment above: 310/2 = 155 months = 12 years, 11 months. The last person to get paid, after almost 13 years, would make .075% in interest, (compounded monthly). This is about what banks are paying for savings accounts right now. Everyone else would do better than that (some much better). Your interest rate would be 1.491%, something almost anyone could live with, I think.

This comes down to whether your friends trust you more than they trust a bank! Haha!

Seriously, though, I’m in for $250, just for the experience and the pleasant surprise sometime in the future of finding a $275 check in my mailbox at random. I’ll volunteer to track it for you, too, if you would want help with that.

And this from another businessman, Linford Berry:

I think you ought to take Jesse and Rodney up on their ideas and offer. And then you can have some more material for you blogs regarding this experiment. I’m in.

And this from pastor Japheth Stauffer:

We are looking at doing something like this amongst our local body for more brotherhood interaction and bonding. We were thinking more of a business sense though, but we need houses as much as we need work!
Dwight, I’ve never met you, but count me in for $250 if you decide to go this way, but I want no interest!

And, as of 11 p.m. on October 7, here is the last comment:

I am blessed even though I don’t know any of you. Jesus said by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if have love one for another.

And already nearly $6000 has been offered in pledged loans!

So yes, folks, it’s actually happening: thanks to the initiative of Jesse and Rodney, it looks like we’re trying a new experiment in unconventional loans. Some call it crowdsourcing or, more specifically, crowdfunding. In this case, I think we could call it churchfunding, since the crowd is the result of Christ’s church in action.

On Sunday just a week and a half ago, when we were in Atlanta visiting Steve Smuckers (our church planting teammates), I shared some teaching on the biblical imagery of the Body of Christ and its members. My central point was that the Body of Christ is larger than any one local congregation. Thus every local congregation must remember that it belongs to something bigger than itself. We need the Church beyond our local gatherings.

Well, I preached it, and now I’m experiencing it. We are experiencing the gifts of the Body of Christ in action, doing things that we could not do or even dream of doing on our own. Doing them in the love of Christ. And we are deeply moved by what is happening.

Perhaps this is an experiment, a prototype, an idea that can be duplicated for the benefit of many. I, for one, would much rather pay interest to my brothers and sisters in Christ than to a bank that is probably driven by godless goals. (And I don’t have a problem with charging interest, either, except when giving loans to the destitute. But that exegetical discussion is for another time.)

So stay tuned for more details. Jesse and Rodney and I are trying to iron out a plan that will, God willing, make it easy for anyone who wishes (at least Americans…) to participate. It should look much like the initial brainstorming above. If it doesn’t work, it will still be an expression of the love of Christ. And if it does work, it just might be God’s surprising way of providing a house for us in Atlanta, as we move there to help form a new Christ-community in that city.

This all still seems so unexpected and strange to me that I’m not quite sure how to end this post. Hopefully you don’t think we’re off our collective rockers. 🙂

If you do, please pray for us. We certainly need it.

If you don’t, pray anyway. And then feel free to join us in this experiment in churchfunding. Maybe God can be honored by an idea hatched on Facebook, and maybe 21st century technology can help us imitate the mutual care of the early church. The resurrected Christ is as alive as he ever was, moving his Body in strange and wonderful ways.

Questions or responses? Hold tight for more details, read about how we decided to move to Atlanta, or fire away in the comments below.

For Christ and his Church,
Dwight for Zonya, Priya, Shani, and Ayla

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6 thoughts on “In Which a Strange Plan Is Hatched on Facebook (News Bulletin)”

  1. Dwight – I love this. This is how the Church should work. This is how the Church does work. “Churchfunding” is Christ’s body at work. We will support this and you. What would you think about a department of Churchfunding for other needs like medical and accidents?

    Would it be appropriate to ordain/appoint seven honest men full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom…..?

    1. Frank, thanks for the affirmation. I am every bit as amazed and blessed as you are!

      A “department of Churchfunding”? I’m not enough of a financial wizard to know how this might work, but I do want to bless people like Jesse and Rodney if they sense a desire to help make this happen for more people. Are there five more honest men full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom who could join them?

  2. What a great idea! We would love to help with this. My sister and her husband loaned us $12,000 interest free for exactly the same reason–so we could move away from a nice, safe Mennonite community (a place we love) into a small town with a lot of issues and a lot of people who need to hear the Gospel. We have a vision to see hundreds of Mennonites leaving the Menno hot spots and spreading out across the nation, a few families here, a couple and some single people there. We love what you’re doing and jump at the chance to be part of it.

    Make this just business-like enough to be honest and above-board, but keep it uncomplicated and personal. I think committees and boards and brotherhood aid plans and special accounts to send anonymous donations take way too much of the fun out of helping someone. Sure they work, but there is something missing. Go ahead and take a crazy idea and let’s all have fun with it.

    1. Will, I love your story and I love your vision! “We have a vision to see hundreds of Mennonites leaving the Menno hot spots and spreading out across the nation.” This is exactly our desire: to live “ordinary” Christ-centered lives in a place where our people rarely choose to live. We must make ourselves available for God to use us.

      I also heartily affirm your words about making this as simple and reproducible as possible, while still carefully managed. Jesse and Rodney are doing a good job getting that balance right, I think. Stay tuned! 🙂

  3. Dwight, I’m in! Let me know how to participate. We got to know each other on the Web, when we were both part of a discussion about whether requiring church membership is Biblical. Your emphasis on the true Church, which includes and transcends all local gatherings is a blessing to me. Now you are reaping the reward! And this is about so much more than money! It is about the unity of the Body, and loving each other as our Lord and Savior commands.

    1. Thank you, Lois! Yes, I remember that discussion, which was indeed a blessing. (Though I think I got too busy to ever respond correctly to the last question I was asked there!)

      If you want to help support us, just go to the post I shared today for all the details. Thanks!

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