By Megan Rawlings
I first heard of Chuck Lane from my husband’s time at Alliance Defending Freedom, where they worked together. Chuck mentored me in development (sometimes referred to as fundraising). He taught me everything I know.
Fundraising is all about relationships and not being afraid to ask.
It is a ministry to teach people how to be cheerful givers.
Chuck’s insight was unrivaled, and his warmth was immeasurable. We talked a couple of times a month until his untimely death last year. So, to honor his legacy, I want to share with you several thoughts about giving that have changed my life.
GET TO THE ROOT OF GENEROSITY
People often don’t want to discuss giving, but it is vital to our spiritual development and growth, and it requires a level of trust in God to meet our needs when we sacrificially do our part in furthering the kingdom.
As the first line of the most popular Psalm says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1, English Standard Version). Men grow great when they do things out of gratitude for what Christ has done, not so he will love us more.
However, greed is one of the greatest sins Americans face, and the cure for greed is generosity. The root of generosity is contentment, and contentment comes from Christ. Only when we truly grasp the sacrifice of Christ can we find contentment, which is a direct result of generosity.
“God loves a cheerful giver,” the Bible says (2 Corinthians 9:7), and he has given us the opportunity and responsibility to participate. When we give sacrificially with a spirit of thankfulness and compassion, we can truly affect the lives of those around us while carrying out our Christ-given mission.
So, where do we start?
Christians give in two basic ways: individually and corporately. We can also donate in an alternative way through contributions to fundraisers. All are vital, and God blesses the efforts.
Let’s look at these categories and see what we can do about financial outreach.
INDIVIDUAL GIVING: BE PROACTIVE
Philippians 4:10-20 shares a touching example of how unrequested generosity from the believers in Philippi deeply affected one of the most influential people of biblical history.
Paul was a man of great faith. Paul relied on God to provide for his needs even when he was in dire situations. He said he had learned to be content whatever his situation, “whether well fed or hungry” (v. 12).
However, when he wrote this Epistle, Paul was in prison and facing difficulties.
Guess what . . . the brothers and sisters in the Philippian church came to the rescue again!
They first helped Paul when he left Philippi to go minister in Macedonia, and Paul never forgot their generosity. He let them know that they were the only ones who helped him at that time. In fact, Paul recounted that they continued supporting him financially at other periods in his journeys.
At this juncture, Paul was in prison. The Philippians had heard of his dilemma and sent gifts to him through Epaphroditus, their partner in ministry. Paul hadn’t asked for anything, and he was so moved by their donation that he wanted them to receive a reward for their kindness.
How does this apply to us?
We need to be proactive in giving. We don’t need to wait until someone asks for help. If we listen closely enough to what God is leading us to do, we can make a difference just by being generous with what we have.
CORPORATE GIVING: SHARE THE WEALTH
The book of Acts is an action-packed adventure. But hidden among the exciting stories of the initial stages of evangelism are two small segments regarding corporate giving. Acts 2:44 and 4:32-35 show how the early believers came together and shared everything they had. We are told that no one lacked any necessities.
This group of people was willing to take their personal resources and voluntarily share them with anyone who had a need—even if they received nothing in return. They were selling homes and land and bringing the money to the apostles to share with those who were struggling. There was unity among the believers, and they were changing the world!
There is good news . . . God notices our efforts (or lack thereof). And he takes care of us. Paul said, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
What if we came together as a unified body in Christ and sacrificially donated to the needy the value of our possessions? What if we used our wealth to ensure that Christian nonprofit ministries were fully funded? What if we gave willingly and generously? How would that affect our Christian mission and outreach potential?
Can you imagine the difference we could make?
There is strength in numbers. When we work together to do the Lord’s work, our effectiveness is multiplied, and the outcome of our efforts is unlimited!
FUNDRAISING: DONATE TO A CAUSE
Another aspect of giving is fundraising. Many people are more willing to donate money to a particular cause instead of as a general gift. However, this method of raising money can be challenging, especially for church leaders.
When I first started fundraising, Chuck was my mentor. I once told him that it often made me uncomfortable to ask people for donations. He told me, “When people are too embarrassed to ask for money, their ego is typically the culprit. They do not want to be painted in a certain way or are fearful of rejection.” Chuck shared three points fundraisers must remember:
1. We ask for money to further God’s kingdom, not for selfish purposes.
2. We ask for money to please God, not people. Paul said, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
3. We ask for money to give fellow believers the opportunity to trust God and be generous. Paul told Timothy,
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
If you are a leader and someone says, “No, I don’t want to give,” you must take yourself out of the equation. It’s not about you. They are not denying you personally; they are just not interested or able to contribute in this specific way. You might possibly offend someone when you discuss money, but remember, if someone is upset, you have hit a nerve.
Part of the job of a pastor is to help Christians grow closer to Christ and represent him well. It is vital that leaders speak to one of the greatest sins plaguing our churches: greed. As the old adage states, “If your toes are being stepped on, you should move your feet.”
TAKE THE TRUST CHALLENGE
One of the most challenging aspects of the Christian life is choosing not to depend on money for security and happiness. Many of us feel pressure to keep up appearances through material goods: big houses, designer clothes, luxury cars, and even well-padded bank accounts.
The Bible looks at money differently. Here are two brief examples:
“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you’” (Hebrews 13:5, New Living Translation).
“The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).
Additionally, the Gospel of Matthew tells about a man whom we often refer to as the “rich, young, ruler”:
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:16-26).
Are you trusting in your paycheck more than you are relying on Christ? If so, that’s a problem. Think of something you could sacrifice and trust God to provide.
I want to challenge you to not just give, but to do so with a cheerful heart, open mind, and in such a way that you must rely on God instead of your checking account balance. After all, as Paul said to Timothy, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).
Megan Rawlings serves as vice president of planned giving with The Solomon Foundation.