Funding the Ministry: What I’ve Learned
Why are we so often uncomfortable talking about money as it relates to Christian ministry?
I think that it is probably because the conversation is often handled poorly, with inappropriate tactics. Using guilt (“Give, or God’s gonna git ya! “) as a motivator can (and should) be a big turn-off. Yet, the topic of money and possessions is one that Jesus talked about frequently in Scripture. In fact, next to speaking about His Father’s kingdom, it is the topic He talked about most.
Randy Alcorn is a member of the MedSend Board of Reference. In his book “The Treasure Principle,” he wrote these words around money and ministry: “…there is a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money. God sees our faith and our finances as inseparable.”
I have had the privilege of spending most of my adult life and career working in the area where the topics of money and ministry meet. Some people would say I am “in fundraising.” I prefer to think that I stand in the middle of those that have great need and those that have much. I am simply the “blessing connector.” I connect God’s people who have the resources with those that greatly need help.
Often, I have been asked, “How is the ministry funded?” My answer? God has all that he needs to carry out the vision of the ministry. He just keeps channeling it through His faithful people.
Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way about funding ministry vision:
Giving is a Journey
We all begin somewhere in our giving journey.
For me, it was being raised in a Christian home where giving was taught from an early age. Even with that good teaching, my own personal journey of giving is still ongoing. Just as we grow in our understanding of God, Jesus, and Christian discipleship, we also grow in our understanding of what it means to be a Christian steward. It is important for both Christian ministries and those that support them to recognize this and encourage the journey. In 2 Corinthians Chapter 8, the apostle Paul encourages the early church to grow or “excel” in the grace of giving.
Ministry can’t take place unless God’s people (His Church) fund it
My good friend and mentor Joel Mikell wrote a book called “Crafting a Theology of Stewardship.” In it, he writes, “Stewardship is God’s business plan for funding ministry in the church. He entrusts to His people everything that is needed to accomplish everything He wants to accomplish—the gifts and blessings of time, talent, temple, and treasure.”
The New Testament Greek word that we translate for church is “ekklesia.” It is the combination of “ek,”meaning “out of” and “Kaleo” meaning “called.” When I refer to the church, I am not referring to the building where you may assemble. Instead, I am referencing those who consider themselves to be “called out” and identify as a followers or disciples of Christ.
All members of the body of Christ should help to carry out the mission of ministry. We can do this through giving our time, talents, and treasures (including our financial resources). God has always funded His ministry through the faithfulness of His people.
Giving is about investing for an eternal reward
Let’s face it – we are all trading our dollars for something: the homes we live in, the cars we drive, the education of our children. We should also be trading our dollars for things of eternal value.
You are probably familiar with these words of Jesus. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21. This passage tells us that there is a connection between our hearts and our money.
I’ve often said there is a money trail to those things I love. There is a money trail to good food, because I do love good food. There is a money trail that leads to my children and grandchildren. And there is also a money trail that leads to ministry. When we give to ministry, we are investing in heavenly treasure.
Cheerful giving always blesses the giver
Recently, I thanked a supporter of MedSend who responded in this way: “It is my joy to give.”
Proverbs 11:25 says this: “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”
In my years of working with Christian ministries in the area of funding ministry vision, I have never met a grumpy giver. Giving simply makes us feel good. A group of scientists published results on their study on giving that linked brain activity and happiness to a person’s generosity.
Christian ministries must be diligent about connecting giving to ministry impact
If givers are on a journey of giving, and the model and business plan for funding ministry vision are these same individuals who desire to store up heavenly treasure, it is critical that Christian ministries do a good job of connecting the dots on how an individual’s giving carries out ministry.
We should ask, How is your ministry carrying out the great commandment to love others? How is your ministry carrying out the command of Christ to “go and make disciples?” We need to be specific and share real stories of life change. Here are a few things to remember when showing ministry impact:
- People give to people, not to budgets or campaign goals
- Financial transparency is key (At MedSend, we voluntarily participate with ECFA, Guidestar and Excellence in Giving and post our 990 on our website. There are no secrets on where the money trail leads.)
- Say thank you – to everyone. In God’s kingdom, every gift matters. Be quick and thank everyone who gives to the work of the ministry.
Your giving journey
- Have you taken time to evaluate where you are in your giving journey? What is God teaching you about giving?
- How are you personally participating in God’s plan to carry out ministry through time, talent and treasure?
- Can you measure the impact of your giving to evaluate the “heavenly treasure” that is being stored for you in heaven?
- How does being one who gives bring blessing back to you?
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