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Starting from zero with $0

I recently received a copy of Becky Garrison’s Starting from Zero with $0. Journalist and regular religious commentator Becky Garrison reflects on about a dozen mission-shaped ministries that started from zero with $0. These ministries are both in the US and in the UK.

I was hooked when the book started with Rick Fabian and Donald Schell and the story of the foundation of St Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church. I went out of my way to visit that community on my study leave in 2005. What was radical in the inception of that community is now commonplace in many places. Others, however, still read along in the Prayer Book, rather than participating fully in the way St Gregory’s does including music, movement and simple dance.

The book also features “Safe Space“, “The Church on the Corner“, “Grace“, “The Crossing“, “St Marks in the Bowery“, and others.

A chapter by Steve Collins on Alternative Worship consists of a list of bullet points. Here is an example:


  • sermons or didactic teaching
  • sitting in one place all the time
  • worship bands, choirs or organs
  • one person at the front directing everything
  • PowerPoint presentations

Pause a moment and you might realise that that describes an Eastern Orthodox Liturgy 🙂 This is not a book about how to clone the massive congregations one sees on television.

Examples and ideas are given of a community making connections of caring outwards into a needy community, making connections multi-culturally, making connections through the internet and social media, and making connections with the neo-monastic movement.

By the variety of examples it has, this book guards against giving the impression that there is a cookie-cutter formula being presented. Here is a book with concrete ideas and flexibility, with suggestions, and encouragement for those who have a missional vision or want to help others find some new, positive ways forward in our new context. It is not a big book (154 pages), and could provide a resource for a discussion group.

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3 thoughts on “Starting from zero with $0”

  1. Becky did a great job w/ the book and it is such a needed resource as resources are indeed short and we need to give people encouragement that they can start w/ $0

    We, Sweet Notions, were really pleased to be part of the book and felt like it helped to acknowledge both our success and struggle as well as to identify what a missional/ incarnational work looks like!

  2. Pause a moment and you might realise that that describes an Eastern Orthodox Liturgy

    We invited a group of “emerging church” people to join us for Saturday Vespers in our parish, and afterwards over coffee invited them to ask any questions or make any comments about it that they wanted to. They made almost all the points you mention — if you’re interested you can see what I wrote about it on my blog at Orthodox emerging missional dialogue � Khanya.

    And our parish started with zero dollars about 25 years ago.

    1. I’m delighted with your reflection, Steve. Over the years I have found Christians with a missional and emergent perspective are some of the most enthusiastic about liturgy, coming to it with a freshness and bypassing some of the sadly common negative prejudices about liturgy. They contact me as they seek to incorporate powerful ancient symbols, silence, gesture, and ritual into contemporary contexts.

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