The first outlay of Project Resource was held in Denver in September, 2015; the second was held in Atlanta in June, 2016. Dioceses were trained to use a curated collection of model and teaching materials to help their dioceses to do better resource development in their churches.
We have deeply refined the materials – more than 385 pages. Please see the links above.
When we presented the first outlay we took a very detailed, anonymous survey from the first 90 participants so that we could test its uses. From that survey I have spent this past 9 months on evenings, early mornings, Sabbath days (oops) and vacations re-writing and re-weaving everything and birthing an entirely new product which is very much based on the original but has been reorganized to allow for improved flow and for adult learning. Seven leaders partnered with me to manage the conference and assist with the teaching.
The new manual is in three sections. The manual and teaching formats accommodate the adult learning mind by pacing through key documents but grouping other resources into tool-boxes.
We have been working with an adult learning specialist who has coached every moment of almost 24 hours of teaching over three days. He has helped us to create teaching segments never more than 12 minutes and has helped us design adult learning engagement exercises between each teaching segment so as to better engage adults and how they learn. This has meant that the 120 hours I put into Project Resource in its infancy has needed another 50 hours this winter and spring to reorder every page, weed out and replace some resources and create a 20 page flow chart so that speakers are presenting a flowing story.
The strategy of Project Resource is three-fold:
- Make hundreds of model documents used daily by churches as they raise money and membership – along with related icons, meditations, teaching texts and learning exercises public and on line so that any church, anywhere can have access to the best materials for stewardship and membership growth leadership all in one place. If a bishop or trained Project Resource lay or clergy leader is on their way to do a coaching or teaching session with a church trying to improve its resource development, all they have to do is download the docs they want onto their phone or tablet and or sent to printers for copying. Everything is free, everything is open and available, and everything is carefully curated.
- Train 600 bishops and their recruited trainers (clergy and lay) as diocesan teams so that teaching on resource development not currently or recently taught in seminary becomes easily and readily available to the churches regardless of their ability to pay for conferences or consulting fees. A key part of the genius of Project Resource is that each day of each of three topics (major gifts, annual pledge campaign, planned giving and membership growth) each diocesan team huddles with their bishop to create a plan so that Project Resource is developed at home in the context of diocesan realities. An alumni program is currently being developed for ongoing support of those trained. The Diocese of Chicago has done a fine job of on-boarding this program and making it their own and a priority.
- Make the bishops responsible for leading this work in their dioceses. Clergy and laity must raise money and people as part of resourcing their mission within God’s mission, and yet they are not taught to do so. They may attend conferences if they can afford to travel but they are simply plenaries and a few workshops borne out of the topic choices of speakers. They may also hire consultants but then they become beholden to their help and the associated fees. With Project resource,m we cut to the grass roots and seek to change the system by giving everything away, teaching vigorously and making everything free and web-based.
I am so sad to see churches, big and small, laboring under the weight of resource needs when unable to learn how to raise money and people and needing to constantly re-invent the wheels with new clergy, new stewardship chairs, new planned giving lay-leaders, etc. I want to change this system not so that we raise more money in the church – that is a side benefit! Indeed, I want to return to the pastoral mandate clergy and bishops have alongside the laity to help a wealthy nation deal with its wealth and learn effective philanthropy. And if we do that we will, also, raise money for God’s mission.
And lastly, this is the first time in the history of the episcopal church that there entities have come together to collaborate in this way: The College for Bishops, The Episcopal Church Development Office and The Episcopal Church Foundation. No one entity has control. We are working together, sharing resources to meet this need and solve this problem organically from the local church upward.
I am so grateful for so many people in my life whose support and courage-lending have made this product possible. It is what I was put here to help accomplish and I am glad my friends can rejoice with me that it is moving forward.
The Rev. Canon Charles LaFond
Saint John’s Cathedral, Denver, Colorado
cell: 603-344-2711, direct line: 303-577-7711
I blog here.
My personal web site is here.
Pledging information can be found here.
For immediate assistance regarding pledges or scheduling appointments please contact Michelle Geurin at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 303-577-7721