Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Of Fundraising

There is a wonderful example of fundraising in the Bible. It is in the book of Romans. Here is the fundraising sentence in chapter fifteen:

"But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to see you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while." (Romans 15:23-24)

This fundraising letter caused the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century and the Wesleyan Revival of the 18th century. The letter does not command fundraising. At the best, it is an example of a good raising support letter. It gives far more than it gets. Paul did not ask for money to go to Jerusalem or to go to Rome. He did ask for assistance on his way to Spain. We do not know that he ever went to Spain, so even that request may not have been met. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to receive a request for money at the end of a letter like the book of Romans?

There are other examples of raising money:

"Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me." (I Corinthians 16:1-4)

Here Paul is asking for advance giving or saving up by the church for the poor Christians in Jerusalem. None of it was for Paul nor was it carried by him.
Chapters eight and nine of II Corinthians are further teachings about this particular gift. Here is an example of Paul’s integrity about money:

"And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men." (II Corinthians 8:18-21)

There has been, and is, much abuse in fundraising for charities, mission societies, and churches. This abuse includes greed and dishonesty both in raising and distributing the money. Consequently, there is much accusation by the unbelieving populace that all Christian workers are guilty of greed or dishonesty or both.

Let us pattern our view of money after the teachings of Jesus and the actions of Paul.

Jesus said:

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Luke 6:38)

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." (Matthew 6:24)

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." (Colossians 3:5)

Are you attached to money or to things?

"One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty." (Proverbs 11:24)

This giving is very open and free. It is not manipulative giving. It is not “priming the pump,” giving a little in order to get a lot. It is giving with no thought of the possible return.

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