Imagination and the spirituality of fundraising

Jantzi-BerylBeryl Jantzi is director of Stewardship Education for Everence.

Henri Nouwen has written a classic booklet entitled, The Spirituality of Fund-Raising. In this inspiring text, Nouwen does a great job talking about the necessity and virtues of inviting people to give to the mission and ministry of the church and other faith based organizations.

As compelling as the message from Nouwen is, there are still relatively few people, pastors included, that feel the call to the ministry of fund-raising. Kerry Robinison, another notable Christian writer and speaker on this topic, has identified that when asked about stepping up to this important calling within the church, 95 percent of people respond with anxiety, and only 5 percent are invigorated.

A primary obstacle to this calling is that most people are uncomfortable talking about money – period. Their own personal finances and giving patterns are hard enough, let alone going out and inviting people to donate to a cause, worthy as it might be. Fear, we know is not of God and yet this is exactly the emotion many experience surrounding this topic.

Turning fear into joy and a sense of calling is no small feat, but maybe it starts with reimagining what this might look like, especially in the life of the church.

Giving is a gift of the Spirit according to Paul in Romans 12:8. Then in Romans 15 Paul is exceedingly bold in calling the church in Rome to give to the needs of the church back in Jerusalem. “I am going to Jerusalem in a ministry to the saints, for Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to share their resources with the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. They were pleased to do this and indeed they owe it to them …” Paul was an evangelist, an apostle and a fundraiser for the purpose to building God’s kingdom and serving the poor. Reimagine your own call to ministry in light of how Paul clearly embraced multiple roles including that of fundraiser!

We are called to invest in things that are eternal (Matthew 6:19-21). Nothing does this more than inviting others to give to the work of the church and her ministries. Reimagine that fund-raising for the ministry of your congregation is no different than inviting your members to give of their time and talent to the church. Fundraising is not about paying the pastor’s salary. This is a narrow minded view of inviting people to give to the local congregation. Your work, as pastor, is part of the larger vision of the church to be about the work of worship, nurture, outreach and pastoral care.

Money follows mission. The first step in being invigorated about inviting others to give to the local church is, believing that the local church is engaged in life-changing work that has eternal significance! Without a compelling vision, fundraising is a drudgery. Reimagine how going back and renewing the commitment to a congregational vision might enhance the financial giving for your church’s call to serve your community and the world!