I’m sure that you must be wondering “What’s with the title of this article?” Or you may be saying to yourself, “Did I miss something here? Maybe it’s the ‘new math’ because 7 x 7 = 1 just doesn’t seem to add up to me.” The short answer to each of those questions is that it’s “none of the above.” Rather, 7 x 7 = 1 is the strategic formula that clearly describes our Fellowship’s brand-new model for supporting church-planting in Quebec and the other francophone regions of our nation.
Our Past Funding Model
However, before I explain our new funding model (7x7=1), let me remind you what our funding model has been for the past 55 years. The Fellowship French Mission was founded back in 1958 during the persecution years in Quebec. Since then God has used the French Mission as a National Fellowship mission agency to give front-line help and support in the planting of almost 100 French-speaking churches. Churches and believers from across Canada have fervently prayed and literally given millions of dollars to support the work in French Canada. Over those five and a half decades, we have truly been eyewitnesses to supernatural growth, to the point that today there are 88 French-speaking churches led by excellent French-Canadian leadership… all to the glory of God!
We are truly thankful for these great blessings, but we should never assume that the job is now complete, and the harvest has been fully gathered in! The stark reality is that Quebec (and the rest of French Canada) is still very much a mission field. To be sure, it is a very different mission field today than it was back in 1958 when Quebec was a very “religious” society, and some evangelicals were being persecuted. Today the pendulum has swung almost entirely in the opposite direction and Quebec is now a very secularized society, as evidenced by the current debate over the “Secular Charter.” However, the reality is that right now, still less than 1% of the population would self-identify as evangelical Christians, and so there are multitudes that have yet to hear a clear presentation of the Gospel.
Change is never easy, but it is often very necessary in order to move forward effectively. Today in Quebec we have a changing, yet desperately needy mission field… and within it, an established group of Fellowship churches. This is a context that is so different from the one that was faced by the early pioneer missionaries. This new changing context called for a new paradigm, a new model which would continue to effectively encourage the advance of church planting in French Canada in the midst of this new generation. Therefore, back in 2009 a courageous decision was taken to change from the historic French Mission model to a brand-new model, post December 2014.
Our New Funding Model
So what is the new model? The new model is a partnership model established directly between seven partner churches or donors for seven years with one francophone church plant – i.e. 7x7=1. This direct partnership model will be based on a collaborative relationship that will need to be proactively encouraged and strategically built between the seven partners and the francophone church-planting project.
Therefore, within this new funding model, the primary relationship will be between the seven partners and the church plant… but lots of help will be available! In the early stages, these strategic partnerships will be encouraged and brokered through our National Fellowship. Once the partnership is well-established, it will be managed by the Church Planting Director in the region where the francophone church plant is located. We are tremendously excited about this new model, and truly believe that this new direction will help to build strong supportive relationships that will advance the work in the coming years.
So what could a Direct Partnership look like? Really, the sky is the limit, but for a partner church, it could potentially involve the sharing of resources, work teams, language exchanges, pulpit exchanges and mutual prayer support. For partner donors, it would also certainly involve the sharing of resources, prayer support and whatever other creative initiatives that are mutually established between the donor partner and the church planting project.
The Coming Transition
We would like to remind you that 2014 is our year of transition. The ministry of the Fellowship French Mission will officially draw to a close at the end of December this year, and the new Direct Partnership Model (7x7=1) will then begin in January 2015. Throughout 2014, Terry Cuthbert, Steve Jones and I will be speaking with all of our donors (churches and individuals) about this strategic transition and the new Direct Partnership Model. If you have questions that you would like to ask, please feel free to contact Terry Cuthbert (firstname.lastname@example.org); Steve Jones (email@example.com) or myself (firstname.lastname@example.org). We are here to serve you, and we are here to help. Together, with God’s help, we are trusting that the Fellowship’s French work will continue to flourish and advance in the years and decades ahead.