I came to a startling conclusion this weekend. I’ve been misreading Ephesians 4:7-16 my whole life.
As a result, I flat out missed the starting point of Transformational Giving…and the reason why many Christian ministries’ development efforts are not producing much more than gnashing of teeth.
You remember Ephesians 4:7-16? It’s where Paul writes that Jesus who descended is the one who ascended and gave gifts to men. He then goes on to say that He gave some to be prophets and some to be apostles and some to be evangelists, preachers, and teachers.
Here’s what I had been missing:
This is not a passage about Jesus giving the spiritual gifts of prophecy, evangelism, preaching, and teaching. The giver in the passage is indeed Jesus. But the recipients in the passage are not the guy who gets the gift of prophecy and the woman who gets the gift of evangelism.
The recipients in the passage are “the saints”–the Body of Christ!
The point of the passage is not that you are given a spiritual gift. The point of the passage is that if you are in ministry leadership, you are given as a gift to the Body of Christ.
So why does this matter when it comes to development/fundraising?
Transformational Giving doesn’t begin with you enhancing the generosity of your donors. It begins with God giving YOU to the Body of Christ!
- God intends that you be given by your organization as a gift to your champions and potential champions. He did not send you out to raise support for your organization. He gave you as a gift to His champions and His potential champions so that they might produce fruit for Him.
- This “coaching champions” work (what we used to call fundraising or marketing or development) is a huge investment of your organization’s time and money.
- With what attitude does your organization give this gift to its champions? A begrudging one? Does your organization do this work as a necessary evil? As always seeking as quick and large a return for itself as possible? As unfortunate but necessary time away from the “real” work of the ministry?
- 2 Corinthians 9:7 says that God loves a cheerful giver. How many Christian organizations cheerfully give their Executive Directors and Board Members and Development Officers to the saints–to the Body of Christ–to their champions and potential champions? Are they given cheerfully to disciple these champions?
- What kind of fruit are you seeing and seeking from this giving of you and your board and your staff? Are you seeking that the first fruit be for God and His Kingdom in the form of the perfecting of the saints for the work of ministry in relation to your cause? Or are you seeking that the first fruit be for your organization, to fund its own work? (Worse yet, are you seeking that the first fruit be a good personal relationship with your donor so that the second fruit can be money from the donor for your organization–the so-called “friendraising” philosophy?)
Giving from champions is always a response to your giving–the time and money your organization invests in discipling champions. And your giving to champions is always in response to God’s giving to you–raising you up to be a chief champion for your cause and equipping you with the gifts to replicate yourself. When you follow this approach, champions give to God–and God as the mover of the human heart controls what part comes to you.