Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Ministry fundraising: God's provision for His work and His glory

Earlier last year I was introduced to the notion that giving should be a transformational (as opposed to merely transactional) relationship. This view of the relationship between donors and beneficiaries holds that both parties should be transformed by the interaction. My exposure to this concept marked the start of an evolution in my overall thinking about fundraising and the sheepish, reluctant, or outright apathetic attitude that many of us in ministry commonly exhibit towards it.

Here are two principles that I am beginning to understand in a new way as they relate to ministry fundraising:
  1. God’s purpose is His glory
    I’m seemingly on a perpetual quest to discover my purpose in any particular ministry setting, and I know many other missionaries or vocational ministers who exhibit this same drive. Recently, I’ve realized that we can always answer the question “What is my purpose or reason for being involved in this ministry?” with “To glorify God” – and that answer will be sufficient. (This is the chief end of man according to the Westminster shorter catechism.)

    God is glorified when His greatness is proclaimed! We glorify Him by bearing witness to His greatness - sharing with others our firsthand accounts of what we see God doing within us and through us in ministry. This is exactly the sharing relationship we seek to maintain with those who support us.

  2. God has chosen to make provision for our ministry by spreading His resources out across His body.
    As if by divine design, we cannot usually be supported in our ministry without first connecting with other people and inviting them to be a part of it too. It is as if God wants more people involved in our ministry than just us, but He has left it up to us to get them involved.

    In his letter to Titus, Paul writes: “Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful. “ (Titus 3:14, NASB.) When we share our support need with others, we provide them with an opportunity to engage in a good deed, meet a pressing need, and be fruitful. In this way, our ministry is expanded beyond the people we meet on the mission field as God uses it to form the hearts of those who help send us there (even as he uses it to teach us about His generous nature and His faithfulness.)

    We’re quick to highlight the verse about the harvest being plentiful but the workers being few (Luke 10:1-3, Matthew 9:36-38) and make the association with too few missionaries being deployed to harvest souls for the kingdom. Could it also be that too few of us are connecting with the body to harvest the plentiful provision that God has planted there and ordained for His work and His glory?
In light of these two principles, I draw the following conclusions:
  1. We must faithfully connect with other people and “bear witness” to what we see God doing in order to “harvest” the provision He has made for our continued ministry.
  2. In so doing, we align ourselves with His greater purposes by glorifying Him and providing a discipleship opportunity for His people.
In a forthcoming post, I’ll address the implications these conclusions ought to have on the way we communicate with those who support us (and even with those who don’t.)