If I get one more year-end fundraising letter from one more ministry President that tells me about his/her organization's "emergency need" I think I'm gonna scream.
Now, don't get me wrong. I have nothing against raising money for a good cause. After all, that's what I spend almost half of my time doing, raising money to mobilize teenagers to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. As the President of Dare 2 Share Ministries fundraising is a big part of my responsibility.
So my problem is not with raising money, it's with the philosophy of fundraising that is driven more by guilt than by grace. Can you imagine the Apostle Paul sending an "emergency need" fundraising letter to the Philippian believers?
Now, if anyone had an emergency need it was the Apostle Paul. Waiting to appeal to the Emperor of Insanity (aka "Nero") Paul is under house arrest. He is chained to another soldier as he pens his fundraising appeal letter to the Philippian believers. Can you imagine his letter reading this way:
"Dear Brothers and sisters in Christ, I have an urgent need. As I write this letter to you I am imprisoned. The conditions are not good and I need your immediate help. If I am not able to raise enough money for bail in the next thirty days I could die in prison or, worse yet, be executed by Nero. You hold the key to my freedom. Your generous gift will rescue me from prison and allow me to preach the gospel. Without it the gospel is imprisoned as well. Without it I could die and the spread of the gospel could come to a standstill. Please give as much as you can right away...before it's too late."
Instead he writes,
"Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear." Philippians 1:12-14
Even though Paul is in a true emergency situation he never calls it that. Why? Because he knows that God is large and in charge and is using it in powerful ways to spread the gospel in ways that he could have never anticipated.
I can say with confidence that the economic downturn that America has suffered over the last few years"...has actually served to advance the gospel" through Dare 2 Share as well. Although we are smaller in budget and staff than we were a few years ago God has clarified our focus, deepened our dependencey on him and opened up new opportunities to spread the gospel in ways we never could have dreamed of. To be honest, I thank God for the challenging times he has put us through. It has softened our hearts and toughend our skin.
Paul learned through his emergency situations and so must we! He writes,"...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13
Paul was content because he knew that God was sovereign over his situation. He refused to resort to fundraising tactics that were guilt-driven, self-centered or manipulative in any way.
So just exactly how did he raise money? He gave God's people the joyous opportunity to join with him in spreading the gospel while building their heavenly bank account. He writes, "Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; or even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account." Philippians 4:14-17
There's no emergency appeal here, just the privilege of joining in the great kingdom work of God. There's no guilt here, just the opportunity to receive more rewards in heaven through their generosity. There's no manipulation here, just a straightforward appeal to their hearts.
So, in the spirit of the Apostle Paul, I'm asking you to prayerful consider a year-end gift to the ministry of Dare 2 Share. As a result the kingdom of God will spread more rapidly through the next generation and your heavenly rewards will abound. For every $23 you give one teenager is mobilized for a full year to spread the gospel throughout their sphere of influence!
Click here to give, not to our emergency need, but to our God-honoring, kingdom expanding vision.
Viva LA Cause!