My weekend was split up with some normal duties and some fun. I went and checked out a local art fair in Wyandotte. Near the end of the week actually. Saturday I ended up chatting with a friend who was meaning to go to Cornerstone, but never could get enough of a reason to go against his family outing all the past years, at least this was his latest take on it.
He said he might like to go to audio feed festival and wanted to know a bit about it. I told him a little bit about it but he was getting ready to practice for some kind of church band thing with some other guys. One of the other guys knew me from the old Michigan Mosh festival, or at least that what it sounded like, with cell phones it's difficult to hear all the conversation sometimes.
I decided to go out to a Astronomy event out a ways about an hour away out past Novi Michigan. For me this outing at Island Lake State Recreation area would be pretty fun, a chance to see a bunch of members of the Ford Amateur Astronomy club. I've missed a bunch of club events and my mind was on how to get better video from audio feed festivals in the future and how to get better overall video for the festival.
And about video equipment gearing up a little better and how to network with some fan video shooters to get perhaps some pooled product something basically for the festival organizers. A challenge is how to get all the footage together and how to convince people to work together to do this.
Another challenge of course is to figure out what is the role of budgeting, pricing and the strange topic that crops up from time to time regarding these festivals and all nonprofit concert events really. These problems are really perception and at times reality problems that people have. It stems from a bunch of questions, but some of these are really difficult to answer and there are no clear answers that will please everyone.
Here is a sample of questions, perhaps a subject for an outline and perhaps some kind of video or blog topic.
Here is the kind of questions that come up from time to time and points that could become a real issue at times for some who might want to help, but become unsure or perhaps just look for an excuse to bail on these events.
Here is a sample of questions.
1. Is it valid to entertain Christians? To do retreats for Christians? This is kind of a question that pops up indirectly. Because sometimes people get into a Ministry question, in other words. How effective and how do you measure metrics to determine how to sell a ministry outreach, or event.
In other words, if I'm donating my time effort and talents to something, why? What is the payback? Is it to just entertain Christians or build up Christian bands? Etc.
These are themes I hear as excuses to say no to Christian events, by some. They almost want an alter call count or something.
2. Profit, vs. Non profit vs. No profit ministry. This opens up an entire can of worms because non profits do a variety of things to get financial advantage and offer financial incentives for donors to get involved. And this involves trying to get as much donated to the event as possible, as a form of high efficiency ministry, you will seem to be more efficient if you get more donated services, from businesses or others. I've seen this with large local non profits, where the goal was to get as much donated for free vs paid for as possible. It's stretching their budget and something they are often bound to do to pull off large events.
Profit enterprises, are often businesses who have to make a profit to be sustainable. Even the parable of those working with their talents was abheir from their talents. Profit exists in the modern society and is necessary to sustain projects. This means a long term goal of repeating projects needs to have profits. Or even sustained giving which is another kind of profit. Without a positive balance sheet the festival or event will be in for a difficult precarious future.
No profit giving is just the attitude that you want to give toward some ministry or event without pay back, consideration, good will or anything. You may not even pay by check and may not put your name on the offering envelop for example. You don't even want non profit gift rewards, because you give in secret hoping that God will reward you. This is pure giving.
I have had some say, I didn't give to that event to give to that organization, but to give to God with that attitude and if it was efficient then the organization was doing well, but in any event, even if they blew it, the gift was to God. But reassessment often happens after giving over and over again, and we often ask ourselves is it really worth it?
Here is the question that we often will ask. And I don't know how to respond to this because at times I ask these questions myself as well. It's a question about "counting the cost" and "is it worth it?" There is always demands, but usually in the way of a quick dollar donation to a "non profit" ministry or some fund raising project. And these compete for limited resources that families and individuals have.
For those who end up doing what they must do or seem to enjoy doing, a second work perhaps but toward a "ministry project" they have to weigh the cost of the volunteerism. What can they reasonably afford to give and what is the payback. It may at times be on the verge of something a friend coined as a term, which he called "ministry addiction". He coined this for a local "missionary" who was a college missionary who was called to go to local colleges. This missionary had a feeling and drive toward saving the lost in the local colleges. But his approach was getting support spiritually from a church but not fully financially. Eventually the church pastor and this guy had a quarrel and the entire thing blew up in a meeting of sorts. I was present and saw this and the questions started to be asked by the pastor if this guy was truly called to be a missionary to the colleges. The missionary was doing tract evangelism and apologetics. Because of a misunderstanding he thought a financial commitment was made, but something went wrong and something didn't work out. So the missionary was abandoned or felt that way, because certain needs were not met. And it was like having the rug pulled out from under him. So the question came up. How efficient is this guy? He had tracts to answer many questions and could "make points" in debating with students and had many answers already. Being a kind of researcher and a nice guy he seemed to have a real love for his ministry. But his ministry was shaken by lack of local church support. I watched all this as he seemed to be abandoned. And the question came up from a friend could this be a kind of "ministry addiction" where he himself wanted to be a ministry person, but without support he was deceiving himself in a way. Because he sought full time support, and I know there are evangelists who are in colleges that do this, I'm not saying they are all wrong or some are not called. But he had this thing he had to do. And the normal college student would probably look at him and wonder what was he doing in college. He wasn't working a regular job, he wasn't tent making. He wasn't going toward a degree. So I wondered if he was being looked at as some kind of lunatic by other normal college students. Because he was so odd compared to the normal college student. Maybe he had lost respect in their eyes right there and it affected his effectiveness. Then again, maybe he was just someone who should doggedly keep going. But for most people I think some of the comments made against him held some ring of truth to them. Was he really influencing others or was he just doing something he thought he must, but so ineffective that he would be "unsent" by lack of support.
Seeing things like that makes me think about big projects like Cornerstone which seemed to fail, for one of many reasons finally, that it was not sustainable. It was a failure due to one of many reasons. It wasn't really a failure, perhaps just something that outlived it's usefulness. Was it effective? Yes, but in some ways we'd have to say due to (fill in the blanks) reasons, it ultimately failed do to it not being sustainable. It didn't have a profit sustainable basis. There is nothing wrong with profit, or a energy sustainable basis, where energy or funds is equal to the need, allowing the bills to be paid. This is in regards to having large expenses for buildings or people who gave up their time working normal jobs to create something different. For the large event, it's getting the funds to pull off the event. The parts that do with expenses are in need of profit or at least a break event balance sheet. There is nothing wrong with making a profit. The servants with the talents were told to go out and earn more. But there is a problem when you try to "charge" for something that was freely given or supernatural from the spiritual perspective.
I like to think of these as being perfect acts, of eternal significance. Those things that the Holy Spirit does in the hearts of man or miracles from Him are not to be sold. There should be "NO PROFIT" in the true gospel. But obviously if you have to have a certain asset, be it a guitar, or a tent, or a sound system those things may cost money. So we need resources to get that money, it could be ticket sales or it could be "pre-ticket sales" or "donations". Even if 100,000 people kicked in $5 to fund a "free event" to get that 100,000 people to "donate" the money requires a kind of profit sustainable motive.
If we are not profiting and sustainable we are dying from a balance sheet perspective and ultimately that is a bad witness of sorts, or at least a sign that change has to happen.
I've heard comments at times when a person was tired in the ministry sayin something to the effect of "why are we doing this?" It was a rational question, which was one that was made from a smart mind, which was tired at the end of an event. The question becomes is it worth it?
I've heard some say they will go to an event, if 100 people show up, but if only 10 show up they don't want to go, because they are wasting their time.
I've also seen some people like Glenn Kaiser travel a long way to give a concert to a very small crowd and this was in the glory years. And he would pay in front of maybe 20 people. So this is the heart of real ministry, that you will just minister because that is what you do, because that is what you are.
The challenge of course is getting those with "less to offer" to sign up and get involved. Because they may not have to much to offer and they may feel that they can't do much and are only doing a little. We shouldn't feel that way but we often do. I want to do so much and be so good in my giving, that it means something and makes a difference. But that too can be a kind of pride. Trying to do more and more. Paul said, he glorified in his lack and inability to excel at times. He said he gave sermons where he stuttered and his speech was not polished and always great. But in those times, "the power of God could shine through". In other words Paul was not concerned with his own ability, but God's ability.
This is where true ministry happens. And hopefully we can be a part of it, but sometimes we are not a part of it, and sometimes it's just God dealing with someone directly.
The work and donation of services by some who are trying to do a small business results in their expecting a good relationship with the non-profit and a hope and desire that they will have some kind of loyalty returned. A kind of gentleman's agreement, like shaking hands. If they help the ministry or event take off, they may be hoping or have an understanding that when the thing takes off they will be paid in the future as more money is available for the event. Sometimes ministries do events and they get hired or supported to pull off even larger events. Maybe a national organization wants them to do something bigger. And when they go to the higher level, they may just go out and buy the higher end service from a higher end service provider. I heard one guy complain about this. He said, one local non-profit, benefited from things his group did for free, and then when a big project happened, rather than consulting with them about the budget, they hired a high end industry professional from another state, to provide a short service for $110,000. So these small businesses or even hobby project folks were doing things for free and once the big budget came, they may have felt like they were stepped over. Climbing towards the top and climbing over others to get there. That being the gut reaction to some, who are in the game for small profits. It can be a source of resentment.
But I'd say if your attitude toward giving is it's a free gift, and there are "no strings" attached, even strings of loyalty and good will. Then it's a pure true gift and you will avoid all the mental games and grief if something happens and you seem to be passed over for someone else.
Truthfully we have to look at it from the promotors perspective also. They may not have time to play around and let the lower end companies learn slowly and pull them up to the next level. They may not have time to test and experiment with their next event and see if you can really pull off the "low priced" gift you are giving them.
With enough shared sacrifice the event however can also become a kind of thing that many have a sense of "ownership over" as well. Because they helped make the event possible.
There is a lot to be said for things like crowd source funding. You could almost "enhance" an event by crowd sources the extras and let those who want to be internet angels fund and take an event to the next level.
In the end we have to say, was it worth it? Did enough good come out of it. Good is often the work of man, ordained by God, but a little less than perfect. We are paying for the good, but Christ paid for the perfect. The works in the hearts of men have been paid for, and we shouldn't charge for that.
Well I've put out a rather long post now. There really is a need to perhaps organize and outline some of these topics, because it's a topic worth addressing. Maybe some just look for excuses to do nothing. One friend of mine for example talked about videotaping a school event for 16 weeks for free, but didn't want to video tape an Audio Feed Festival event, because he was unsure if it was spiritual enough or it was worth it. It was worth it to videotape a bunch of football games because his son was in those. But it was not worth it to video tape and perhaps promote a Christian festival. Maybe he was just throwing up smoke and mirrors.
Another question at times is "why do we do this?" and why would we support people who are so strange at times. For examples some seemingly rebellious freaks who dress and act strangely. They may not even be Christians. Maybe they are just rebels, etc. My answer to this would be that we can't always be friends to the successful and to those who are in a certain mode. I used to be a child evangelist, not in churches per se, but in schools where I attended. And I carried my bible and was called a Jesus Freak and teased. I found that some of the friends I ended up having were not the high end successful kids, that had everything going for them. I had some friends who were teased by others, who were the freaks or the losers perhaps. And these were viewed as such by the cool kids. But that didn't matter to me. Because I didn't care if these were the rejected or not. And after all I was a rejected kid also, because I was the "rejected" "preacher kid". So I was happy to be around some who were maybe not the most popular kids in school, because that didn't matter.
And I can remember at The Choir concert a comment made about Cornerstone being a place for kids who were with broken dreams. In other words Cornerstone was a place for those who didn't fit in. That became a kind of place for those strange folks or geeks or whatever to find something in common. And that meant you didn't have to fit into a mold to love Christ or to be loved by Him. So we were a place of strange people and those who may be considered "on the fringe" or different. We didn't have to change to be successful.
Well this is not meant to be a long drawn out write up, but it's turning into one. And I'm going to say that I'll stop writing this now, because I'm writing outside and it's late at night. And I'm not saying that we should be proud of poverty or failure either. I don't think that works out either. We can be proud that we are poor and make that some kind of standard. I don't think that we need to force molds on anyone, but let each find their unique place in the Kingdom of God.
I'll close by saying that I read Steve Camps blog where he was talking about not doing anything for profit or charging. He had an interesting concept. But he kind of hedged when he said, well preachers can charge for their copyrighted tapes, etc. He had a kind of spiritual legalism or at least his version of it. I think he may be confusing the perfect with "the good". Men and mankind makes sacrifices to create works that are "good" and ordained but these are not "perfect" works of the Holy Spirit. We can make sacrifices in time and resources and be expected to be paid for our "good works" and sacrifices of time and effort. There is a lot of skill required and time spent to be a musician. I think they can charge because they made sacrifices for their craft. They are charging us for their "good work" and that is entirely okay. But we don't want to "charge" for the work of God. In other words, I don't charge for "conversions" or for "a miracle" of any gift of the Holy Spirit. Those works are perfect works in the heart of men by God. We shouldn't charge for that.
So there are some of my thoughts tonight, but I'm tired and perhaps can rewrite this and make it better structured later.
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