In yesterday’s post we concluded that God despises measurements that draw attention to human strength and power and capacity because they tempt us to base our decisions on human strength and power and capacity.
Those kind of measurements pretty well define the purpose of measurement in traditional/transactional fundraising (ttf).
The most pragmatic (and honest) among us will be quick to protest, ‘But surely you’re not saying we shouldn’t track daily income or the results of a direct mail appeal?’
And you’re right: Surely I’m not saying that. See my census example from yesterday for a bit of clarification.
What I am saying, though, is that what God despises is when we base our decisions on human strength and power and capacity…which is typically why we track daily income and the results of our direct mail appeals in the first place. It’s also why we do wealth screening, why we categorize our donors as regular, middle, and major, and why we choose certain fundraising strategies over others: because they maximize human power, strength, and capacity.
And that’s scripturally problematic.
So what’s the alternative to basing decisions on human strength and power and capacity?
Well, let’s move quickly to assert that it’s definitely not the kind of ‘faith budgeting’ Christian nonprofits do when they stick an extra $300,000 in their income line without any idea where it’s coming from and say, ‘We’re believing for that by faith.’ (For information on budgeting and TG, by the way, check out this previous post.)
The alternative to basing decisions on human strength and power and capacity…is to base decisions on God’s strength and power and capacity as presently evident in your network of champions and partners.
In other words, measure not human activity in human beings but rather divine activity in human beings–the parts of Christ that ‘show through them’ in relation to the cause.
Interestingly, that’s what the scriptures show God measuring:
- Sometimes He measures the absence of divine activity (like in Matthew 23:32, where Jesus challenges, ‘Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!’).
- Sometimes He measures the inhibition of divine activity (like in Hebrews 5:12, where the writer castigates, ‘In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!’).
- But most often scripture shows God measuring His own presence in us.
The perfect illustration of the last point is 2 Peter 1:3-9. Give it a careful read in light of the subject of what we measure:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins [emphasis mine].
Evidence of Christ showing through us in increasing measure: that’s the very reality pointed to by our ‘touchstone’ Transformational Giving passage, Ephesians 4:. Check it out also in relation to the subject of what we measure:
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ [emphasis mine].
The typical responses to the proposal that TG should measure divine activity in humans (rather than human activity in humans) are that:
- God’s activity is not easily detectable or definable
- Such measurement would by nature be far too subjective
- The process of measuring divine activity is likely to turn us into legalists because of our subjective measurements and God’s indetectability/indefinability
But do such concerns stand up to scriptural scrutiny? And are there ways for us to detect and measure increases of the kind written about in the quotes from 2 Peter and Ephesians, above?
No to the first question. Yes to the second. Onward to tomorrow for the next installment of Adventures In Measurement!