The Christian Reformed Church is experimenting with crowdfunding as a way of raising support for a large-print edition of the Lift Up Your Hearts hymnal, as well as to publish newly revised God Loves Me storybooks.
The CRC’s Worship Ministries opened the large-print hymnal campaign, while Discipleship and Faith Formation Ministries is behind the God Loves Me storybooks crowdfunding effort.
Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project by raising contributions from a large number of people typically through the internet.
Tim Postuma, web manager for the CRC, says the decision to publish these products will be based in large part by response to the crowdfunding requests.
“Crowdfunding lets churches speak into these publishing decisions. In a very real way, they can dictate what gets published,” says Postuma.
“It's an experiment, but we hope one churches embrace so they can be active participants in publishing decisions.”
The normal process of publishing, especially hardcover books like the hymnal and books with colorful illustrations such as the God Loves Me storybooks, is expensive.
“Crowdfunding helps determine how many to print — so we don't print too many, and we don't print so few that we end up having to do an expensive second printing,” says Postuma.
The goal with the large-print hymnal is to print at least 200 copies at a reduced cost of $35.
“The pre-orders will tell us how many to print, so churches need to reserve their copies right away,” says Rev. Joyce Borger of Worship Ministries.
“The Large Print edition of LUYH is an expensive product to print,” says Borger. “But after talking with Disability Concerns and people with visual impairments, we believe it is important. Given the cost of production, we need to have a very good idea of how many to print.”
Besides the reduced cost, supporters will get free shipping in the U.S. and Canada.
The God Loves Me storybooks for 2-3 year olds have been well-loved and much-used since being published 16 years ago by Faith Alive Christian Resources.
“The stories are beautifully written and remain relevant but many of the illustrations and images need to be replaced or updated to connect with the next generation of children,” says Karen DeBoer, Creative Resource and Curriculum Director with the Discipleship and Faith Formation Ministries.
And, she said, "because we know that the primary place children learn about faith is at home, the goal of this crowdfunding project is to make the storybooks affordable to use at home, in addition to church."
DeBoer adds that the 52 storybooks have long provided families "with a wonderful way to nurture faith while establishing devotional habits of Bible reading and prayer."
There are various levels of crowdfunding for the God Loves Me books, ranging from a $1 donation to $60 for a Home Set to $110 for two full sets to $200 for a kit for your church to $500 to sponsor the art and design for one of the books.
Among the benefits of using the books:
- introducing children to a large portion of Scripture through 52 stories from the Old and New Testaments that capture the essence of each story in a way that respects the attention span and learning level of two- and three-year-olds.
- inviting children into God’s story in a theologically faithful way—keeping God at the center and introducing children to the love of Jesus.
- helping children feel sure that God loves them and developing in them a sense of belonging as one of God’s children and as part of the people of God.
- providing churches with an easy-to-use format (a story, wondering question, and prayer, with learning-through-play activities) to use to share God’s stories with children in their preschool, nursery, or daycare ministries.
The storybooks as well as the large-print hymnal will carry the Faith Alive imprint.
“Crowdfunding is perfect for denominational publishing,” says Postuma. “It reduces waste, gives churches better prices, and lets them determine what gets published.”