One of my roles as the Queensland State Representative for Baptist World Aid Australia is to raise money for our work. Even as I type, I can hear the pastors among us gasp at the thought of having to speak about money in every sermon, but actually, I really enjoy my role of fundraising within churches. I think raising money can be a tangible, and exciting spiritual activity.
Now I can hear the gasps of church goers: “You can’t use the words ‘spiritual’ and ‘money’ in the same sentence!” they exclaim; but I think we can think of raising money as a spiritual activity if certain criteria are met. Such criteria can be found in what I am calling the ‘fundraising passages’ of the Bible.
When we read through the Scriptures, we can see that several people fundraise throughout the biblical story.
We see Moses (Exodus chapter 25 verses 1 to 9, and chapter 35 verse 4 to chapter 36 verse 7), David (1 Chronicles chapter 29 verses 1 to 20), Hezekiah (2 Chronicles chapter 31), Nehemiah (Nehemiah chapters 1 and 2), and Paul (1 Corinthians chapter 16 verses 1 to 4; 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9; Philippians chapter 4 verses 10 to 20; 1 Timothy chapter 6 verses 17 to 19) all seeking to raise funds.
From the fundraising conducted by these people, we can draw a few conclusions about how fundraising today can be considered spiritually enriching. First, fundraising should be God-centred.
Faithful fundraising should be God-centred
As we review the passages, we see that God is involved in each stage of these fundraising campaigns: In Exodus, God commands Moses to ask for the donation (Exodus chapter 25 verses 1 to 9), and the offering is made to the Lord (Exodus chapter 35 verses 5, 21, 22, 24, and 29).
David (1 Chronicles chapter 29 verses 5, 9), and Hezekiah (2 Chronicles chapter 31 verse 8) offer praise to the Lord for the giving that takes place. It is not the givers, but God who is praised, for these fundraisers recognise that everything offered belongs to God anyway (1 Chronicles chapter 29 verses 10 to 20.) God is the source of the request, the recipient of the donation, and the fulfiller of the appeal.
As Baptist World Aid’s representative in Queensland, I believe I am asking people to financially support the Lord’s work overseas, and so I believe that the ask is God-centred; and as a fundraiser, I believe I am doing a spiritual work by reminding believers that our belongings are actually God’s belongings.
However, in my zeal to remind people of this, I am in danger of manipulating or condemning listeners. Fundraising as a spiritual activity should convict, but it should not manipulate or condemn.
Fundraising should convict, but not manipulate or condemn.
This is challenging, because as we look at the passages mentioned above, we see that Moses presented a soft ask, stressing that only “those who are willing” (Exodus chapter 35 verse 5) should give, whereas Paul seems to take a more aggressive line, asking the Corinthians to “prove their love” by giving generously (2 Corinthians chapter 8 verse 24). So which is correct? Well, seemingly, both.
As a fundraiser, I have been challenged once before about the ask being manipulative. This was challenging for me, and I had to go to the Lord and seek His affirmation that what I had said was what he wanted me to say. As a fundraiser, this is the key to ensuring I convict without manipulating and condemning: I must be a person of fervent prayer.
Each time before I speak, I need to be confident that the ask is what God has commanded me to pass on (cf. Exodus chapter 25 verses 1 to 9). Sometimes it will be soft and thankful, and other times it will be convicting and hard. But it is only through the Spirit’s guidance that I can be sure that it is not unduly manipulative or condemning (cf. 1 Corinthians chapter 2). Spiritual fundraising should convict, but it should not manipulate or condemn.
There is one final point that can be drawn from the passages above, and it again relates to those of us who are fundraisers. As spiritual fundraisers, we should be willing to give first.
Fundraisers should be willing to give first
This is perhaps the key to effective, spiritual fundraising, because only those who have given first can ask with confidence and without shame. In the same way that a pastor must go through the lesson before he can preach it to his congregation, the fundraiser has to sow into the work before he can authentically ask others to sow into it. Like David (cf. 1 Chronicles chapter 29 verses 1 to 5), the fundraiser needs to lead the way in giving before he or she can authentically implore others to give.
This is a humbling, and spiritually rich truth, the fruit of which is a powerful and unashamed ability to ask for money, and offer praises to God when you see an amazing response. Fundraising which is God-centred, convicting, and brought by one who has given first can indeed be a rich, spiritual experience.
(I am indebted to Marc Pitman for conducting the research to find these verses. He offers a thorough discussion on these passages and others at https://fundraisingcoach.com/free-articles/fundraising-in-the-bible/)
Brent Van Mourik is the Queensland State Representative for Baptist World Aid Australia and is a registered pastor with the Baptist Union of Queensland. He completed a Bachelor of Theology with honours in New Testament through Malyon College in Brisbane, where he now lives with his wife, Jane, and his young son, Joshua. In his down time, he enjoys making and drinking good coffee, and developing his theology of disappointment, whilst putting into practice Ephesians chapter 4 verse 26 (“In your anger do not sin”) on the golf course.
Brent Van Mourik’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/brent-van-mourik.html