If you are not much of an Internet person, then it is possible you are not familiar with the website Kickstarter. However, Kickstarter was a revolutionary concept for bringing creative projects to life. Previously for artists, writers, and designers the process to publication was an arduous one. It required an investment by a company or a lot of personal financial risk. Kickstarter changed the game though, by introducing the concept of crowdfunding. According to their website, “Kickstarter helps artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, and other creators find the resources and support they need to make their ideas a reality. To date, tens of thousands of creative projects — big and small — have come to life with the support of the Kickstarter community.”
The way it works is someone creates a Kickstarter project for what they want to create. They explain what they are trying to make and why they need funding. They set a funding goal and then create “pledge levels”. Often these pledge levels have rewards associated with them. Often this reward is a copy of whatever the project is trying to produce but it could involve other perks as well. Kickstarter users who are interested in the project can back it and pledge their money at their chosen reward level. When the campaign ends, all of the money is collected and the project creator now as the needed funds to make their dream a reality. Kickstarter launched in 2009 and since then over 17 million people have backed over 172,000 successful projects.
I have some personal experience with Kickstarter. One of the most successful areas of the website is the realm of tabletop gaming. Since 2010, I have backed a number of board game projects on Kickstarter. A couple failed to fund and we did get burned a couple of times when the project failed to deliver. However, there are number of games that I enjoy that would never have existed if I did not join with other backers to provide the funding to make the project a reality. I have been part of some campaigns where the game was wildly successful. Instead of just pocketing all of the extra funds, the game makers used it to make the project better and better. It is neat for me when I play these games because it is a reminder that I had a role in helping this game be created.
The concept of crowd funding was revolutionary when Kickstarter launched, but really it was just an old concept in a new way. The church, after all, has been crowd funding since the beginning. Kickstarter crowd funding allows people to invest in the creation of something. The funds raised cover all aspects of the project. Often some of the biggest pieces of funding are for overhead issues like shipping. In the same way, when churches pass the plate to collect tithes and offerings we are essentially crowd funding the mission of the church. We are asking the congregation to invest in making our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world a reality. Like a Kickstarter project some of those funds do go to necessary overhead items, but covering those costs provide the solid foundation upon which lives are changed and a real difference is made.
Backing a Kickstarter project is not buying a product, it is an investment in a dream. In the same way, our tithes and offerings are not payments for a service or membership dues. They are an investment in the kingdom of God. When we are faithful givers then we become part of something bigger than ourselves. When lives are touched, when hurts are met, when dreams are enabled, and when professions of faith are made by the work of the local and connectional church then we are part of that. Our giving helped make that happen. I can only speak for myself, but as an experienced crowd funder, the investments I have made in the church are the best ones and I know the associated reward is eternal.