For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. – Romans 12:4-8
Life in a consumer economy is one of countless exchange transactions. The butcher sells meat to the baker, such that he might have bread with which to compensate his candlestick maker. So it is in so many barter economies still extant around the world. For most of us, we make our exchanges with money or increasingly pledges transmitted as information across electronic payment systems. A mackerel doesn’t swipe easily through the card reader at checkout. Marketers vie for what they call a share-of-wallet, established recurring positions in a consumer’s expression of the things they value most. Marketing is both art and science. An old saw of the sales and marketing world is AIDA: Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. Manage a consumer’s attention span across that spectrum well and reap a harvest at their points-of-purchase.
There are no such exchange transactions in the economy of God, save one glorious one at the cross. We do not trade in Christian ministry. There is no marketing, because there is no market. There is a church. There is a bride being prepared for a holy groom. This preparation looks nothing like an earthly wedding planner’s checklist of rentals and purchases, but rather more like a grand benefactor dispensing supernatural abilities to every participant and attendee such that this wedding will literally be the most perfect wedding ever held, as it will be.
It is more than reasonable to doubt that there really is any such thing as fundraising in Christian ministry. Real gifts are not garnered by marketing techniques. They are expressed as love for God by those who adore him. Yes, as in all love, some are expressed as gratitude for blessings received. But in the sincere heart, it is just expressed love: adoration, exultation, awe, ecstasy, devotion. I do not love my wife because she does nice things for me, though she certainly does. I love her because I love her, and so it is with Jesus. We love him because we love him. Some express that love in teaching, in service, in the exhortation of others. Some do it, in grace he supplies, by contributing.
“So we, though many, are one body in Christ,” but the Grand Benefactor has endowed church members with a vast fabric of giftedness. To some known as “contributors,” God has given a gift of grace. That grace is generosity. The job of Christian fundraising is not one of marketing, i.e., trading in transactions, but rather of ministry. The job is not exchanging or even harvesting, but rather encouraging and edifying the gifted, the God-favored recipients of the grace of generosity. God gives the growth. The Christian “fundraiser’s” task is not in representing the good work of the Christian institution to consumers in some exchange for their money, rather one of enabling the work of the institution to become a gospel work of the contributors themselves. That is what we are always seeking to do as we relate to you and communicate with you.
The generous couple who in January offered to match $300,000 in contributions received here before June 30, did not do so to coerce or spur, rather to invite others like them—the God-gifted generous among the saints—to join their own joy and worship. Only a few days remain in this “On The Double” appeal period. We pray that you might join in, if you haven’t yet already done so, or even take one more opportunity to amplify your praise before the June 30 deadline.
Join us with your gift here.
Vice President of Advancement
Distinguished Lecturer of Commerce and Vocation.