This is part of a series of posts about Visioneering Studios’ “sister companies” under the Provision Ministry Group umbrella. Today’s post is about Church Development Fund…where it all started almost 60 years ago.
In 1953 a group of Christian Church leaders in southern California decided that help was needed establishing Christian Churches in their area. This group of leaders started CDF (originally under the name “Churches of Christ Building and Loan Fund”) by putting their money where their mouth is. For the first decade at every gathering each attendee paid an “admission” fee. This money was used to help new churches build their first building. Since most of these non-denominational Christian Churches and Churches of Christ didn’t have any other options to get funding this was a great help, but the big flaw was expandability.
SIDEBAR: So what do you mean by “Christian Churches” and “Churches of Christ”? Isn’t any church a “Christian Church”? Can any church qualify for a loan from CDF? Ironically, this is basically a non-denominational “denomination.” There is no denominational hierarchy but there are about 5,500 sister churches in this loose affiliation of independent churches. The best definition I’ve found to describe what qualifies as a “Christian Church” is in this article. When CDF was established as a non-profit organization, their charter only allowed them to make loans to “Christian Churches” and “Churches of Christ” that basically have to fit the description in the article linked above. Can your church qualify? Give them a call to find out.
Obviously with just a small group of men giving donations, the amount of funds available would be small and the number of churches that could be helped would be limited. A transition was needed, and out of that developed the model for Church Development Fund that is still in place today. Individuals and churches could invest their money in CDF and CDF would loan that money out to churches. The churches got the money they needed to buy property or build facilities and the interest they paid on the loan went to pay the investors…a win/win for everyone.
CDF continued to grow for several decades by serving churches in California, but eventually their success led them to the realization that their were thousands of other churches they could help outside of California, so they began to expand their investment and loan operations nationwide during the 1990s. From their simple beginning CDF has grown to become an industry leader among other church/denominational lenders. Their successful fund has now grown to over $600 million in assets, all of which are being used to help churches fund their facility needs with a side benefit of certain proceeds being set aside in a church planting fund.
As CDF grew they saw that there were other needs churches had beyond just funding and investments. Out of this desire to help churches, CDF started Visioneering as a new design department within CDF. The rapid growth of Visioneering and CDF’s goal to provide other ministry services to churches led to a realization that CDF’s “banking” operation was in danger of losing their primary focus. So a bold new vision was cast by CDF’s leadership and in an unusual twist, CDF birthed a “parent” company, Provision Ministry Group, and spun off two sister companies, Visioneering Studios and Stadia. To find out more details about CDF’s history check out these videos. In my next post in this series I’ll discuss the start of Provision and how it fits into the Visioneering story. If you have any stories about CDF you’d like to share or any questions about CDF, feel free to leave a comment.