Two weeks ago over 50 leaders from ministries around the country gathered in Memphis, Tennessee for the first Justice in Funding Mission CCDA Pre-Conference. We spent the day learning, lamenting, and dreaming of a new future together. This post will recap the conference and provide some of the resources that were given out that day. We hope you’ll be able to join us the next time we gather.



The National Civil Rights Museum

We met in Memphis, the site of this year’s CCDA Annual Conference. Many of us were able to visit the National Civil Rights Museum, the site where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Touring the museum was a poetic, mournful reminder that though our nation has made strides in race relations, we still have so far to go. Our hope is that the conference in some small way follows in the legacy of MLK to seek justice in society, especially for ethnic minorities.

Debriefing Paper

After an introduction from Noel Castellanos, the president of CCDA, we began the morning by debriefing a paper by Pablo Otaola and Daniel White Hodge. Entitled “Reconciling The Divide: The need for Contextual and Just Models of Fundraising that Empower all People Groups in
Vocational Youth Ministry”, the paper helped all of us start with common language to discuss how support raising keeps parachurch ministries white.

Pablo, one of the authors of the paper and co-planner of the conference, was able to share his story of immigrating from Argentina and struggling to raise support to continue in full time ministry. I shared my slow journey of awakening to the realities of inequity within our current ministry funding structures.

Funding Mission Biblically

We then moved to a time of examining God’s Word to see what He might have to say to us about the issue of justice in funding mission. To prepare for the conference, I wrote an 8-lesson curriculum designed for a team to go through together. Around our table groups, we explored some of the themes such as: “Abundance vs. Scarcity”, “Trinitarian Sharing”, “Imago Dei”, and “Equity and Justice”.

This Bible study is in the final stages of editing and we plan to release it next week for anyone to use. The goal is that a team would go through the study together, wrestle with the passages in community, and then write a team covenant for how they will fund mission in the future. We believe that a robust theology of mission funding is needed if we are going to find solutions to the injustices in support raising.

Listening to Stories

Renee Begay, a Native American minister from Gallup, NM, then shared the story of her journey in support raising. Other ethnic minorities shared their stories around their tables so we could all enter further into their experiences with our current systems.


Kristy led us in a time of corporate lament in response to the stories we heard and the passages we read in the morning. It was powerful to confess as a community that we have not followed God’s ways and have not been our brother’s keeper.

David Warren and Open Door Ministries

In the afternoon we were able to hear from David Warren, the Executive Director of Open Door Ministries in Denver. Over the past few years his ministry has been able to develop an innovative funding model where everyone who is hired automatically receives 70% of their salary. If they would like to be paid 100% of their salary, they are encouraged (and trained) to raise support for the remaining 30%. The model is unique in the way that it calculates the amount of support each person needs to raise to be paid at 100%.

While David was quick to share that he doesn’t think this is the model for all ministries, it was enlightening to hear how ODM has evolved over time. Conference attendees asked great questions and were able to hear David’s journey from a model of full support raising to the one Open Door Ministries uses today. He is a great example of someone who thinks outside the box and tries to come up with innovative solutions to the problems in our current support raising models.

To learn more about David’s model, download his presentation below.


We then spent time in our table groups in a “hackathon”, a fast-paced time of brainstorming solutions together. Groups were tasked with different problems to solve within support raising and given 45 minutes to come up with a solution together. Each group then presented not only their solutions, but the rationales behind them.

Next Steps as a Community

Finally, we ended the day with next steps we felt we needed to take as a community. There was a consensus that more gatherings in the future were wanted. We also discussed ways to continue the conversation in the future.

Facebook Group

One way we decided to keep the conversation going was through a Facebook group. We’d love for you to join us and contribute to solutions we’re seeking together. Click here to join the Justice in Funding Mission Facebook Group. (note: It is a closed group, so you’ll need to request to be added. We did this so the conversations can remain private and not searchable via Google or Facebook.)

Participant Packet

We’ve made the participant packet we used at the conference available to download. In it you’ll find resources for the hackathon as well as a solutions database of over 30 different solutions people are trying around the country. Download it below.

Your Own Conference

If you are interested in having us put on a similar conference for your organization, please contact us. We’d love to help out in any way that we can.

We’d love for you to join us at the next gathering, especially if you were unable to make it this time. Check back soon for more updates or subscribe below.