Faith Ministry And Modern Fund-Raising
By Russ Reid, Chairman of the Board of the Russ Reid Co., Pasadena, CA
What does it mean to have a faith ministry? Does it mean that your role is simply to pray and let God provide? Or, do you show your faith by actively seeking resources to fund the vision God has given you?
This is a critical issue in raising funds for ministry -but it isnt new. Two of the most important leaders in Christian ministry - D. L. Moody and George Mueller - were good friends on opposite sides of the debate.
Moodys attitude was that the Lord owned the cattle on a thousand hills, and all resources belonged to Him. He saw it as his challenge and opportunity to ask giants of industry to share their resources in Kingdom building. He chided his friend Mueller, however, for his practice of always explaining to potential supporters that he would not ask them for money, since God would supply all of his needs. Moody insisted, "By telling them youre not asking for money, youre ASKING for money!" And, of course, he was right.
The interesting thing is that Muellers orphanage -although a very important ministry in its day - has long since closed its doors. On the other hand, D. L Moody began a ministry that has outlived him by over 100 years. Literally millions of people around the world hear the Gospel today because of the financial foundation that he built to launch and sustain his ministries.
It seems to me that scripture is very clear that the type of active fund-raising demonstrated by D. L Moody has been a part of the work of Gods people from Old Testament times through the development of the Christian church in the first century.
In Exodus 25, for example, God tells Moses to launch a "Capital Campaign" to build the Tabernacle. Moses is instructed to "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering."
When it was time for the wall in Jerusalem to be rebuilt, Nehemiah solicited a major gift from the king of Babylon. "And the king granted me," the prophet wrote, "according to the good hand of my God."
Jesus own ministry, of course, was financially supported by many disciples who gave contributions "out of their means." (Luke 8:3)
It is the Apostle Paul, however, who outlines biblical fund-raising principles most clearly. Burning with enthusiasm to build new churches, he initiates a New Testament pledge plan: "Each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income." (I Corinthians 16:1)
In fact, Paul writes two chapters - II Corinthians 8 and 9 - which are filled with tips for fund-raisers. He not only uses all his persuasive powers to make the new church members enthusiastic givers, but he heaps praise and recognition on them for their previous generosity. Paul also understands the importance of follow-up. "I thought it necessary," hi explains to the Corinthian5 "to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised." (II Corinthians 9:5)
The Bible certainly is not silent on the fact that all we have comes from God, and that our task is to challenge people with the opportunity to have significance in their lives by giving their resources to God.
So the real question is, what is the most effective way to get that message out? In todays world, technology has provided exciting new opportunities to find the thousands of people who want to be a part of your ministry. Using new computerized techniques, however, worries those who see technology as "worldly."
In fact, any kind of modern technology can raise this kind of anxiety. Some of you are old enough to remember when evangelists repudiated and denounced radio as an instrument of the devil, only to have them change their minds and see its potential to be a vehicle to tell the world of the saving love of Jesus.
Not many of us would discredit or disallow the work of a CPA to do an audit on our books, or an attorney to help us sort out the legal ramifications of a property purchase. Or, in more recent times, to accept the help of computer experts in making information more available to us. Should we be any less hesitant to utilize space advertising, direct mail, television, planned giving and major gift campaigns to provide the resources to fund all that God has called us to do? I think not.
Does that mean that trusting God is unnecessary? Of course not. Rich or poor, we have to trust God for every breath we take. But there are some clear distinctions between which responsibilities are Gods and which belong to us.
Im often reminded of that when people ask me, "Isnt it a miracle that thousands of people always come to Billy Grahams crusades?" I have to say, "No. That isnt a miracle. Billy Grahams organization uses every resource available to insure that there will be a crowd."
The miracle happens at the invitation, when thousands walk the aisle to confess Christ as Lord. In the same way, when money is raised for your mission, it takes hard work and solid know-how in the field of fund-raising. That isnt the miracle. But after you have - in faith - spent that money to reach out to people in need, God begins to transform their lives. That is the miracle.
It has been my privilege over the past year to visit many missions across the country, and see evidence of those miracles. All the services you provide to the poor - whether it is housing or feeding or rehabilitation - are door-openers to introduce people to the transforming power of the Gospel. Thats what sets missions aside from other kinds of inner-city programs that dont focus on changing peoples lives.
I believe that this work deserves the kind of funding base that will allow each of you to do more of what God is calling you to do. Isnt it time that we set aside forever the idea that a faith ministry requires us to ignore resources which can help us reach more people effectively?
- From RESCUE Magazine, Winter 1992. A publication of the International Union of Gospel Missions