The Whole Life Ten: Christianity-as-Philanthropy

From my second book, The Whole Life Offering: Christianity as Philanthropy, which is scheduled for release in January 2011. This list is intended as a fundamental re-visioning of the Transformational Giving Ten I wrote a few years back. The TG Ten list has worn well, praise God, but I’ve had a desire since I wrote it to create a list that could be equally useful to individual Christians, pastors, churches, and Christian nonprofits rather than just, as in the case of the TG Ten, Christian nonprofits.

The Whole Life Offering Ten

Preamble:

Philanthropy is the comprehensive attitude and pattern of direct contact, warm relationship, and unfailing and unwarranted beneficence on the part of God in Christ toward human beings, mirrored into the world by the recipients of that beneficence.

The Whole Life Offering is how Christ’s philanthropy—his pouring everything into us, the destitute and unworthy ones who now have been reborn by his grace as the sons and daughters of God—constitutes the possible length and breadth and comprehensive content of our philanthropy to others. Nothing we give to God or to others can draw from anything but the philanthropy of Christ, whether we recognize it or not. This Christianity-as-philanthropy is really Christ’s whole life offering continually extended to his beloved humanity through us. Our own whole life offering, when it mirrors his into the world, is transformed into a means of grace and constitutes our spiritual service of worshipping God.

This list is intended as a modest companion to the Scriptures. Its goal is to enable the philanthropy of Christ to be magnified more fully in the life of the reader, and to equip the reader to mirror that philanthropy more fully into the lives of others as a continual act of worship.

To that end, ten principles drawn from Scripture are necessary and sufficient to ground us in the practice of Christianity-as-philanthropy and in the preparation of our own whole life offering as a mirror to his own.

  1. We are each called to full maturity in Christ, learning and reflecting him rather than being specialists, supporters, or solvers.
  2. We grow to full maturity in Christ as we partake of the Works of Mercy and Piety as means of grace, embodying the philanthropy of Christ in each aspect of our lives.
  3. Works of Mercy that are not grounded in Works of Piety lack power; Works of Piety that do not issue forth in Works of Mercy lack impact.
  4. Full maturity in Christ is learned, not latent.
  5. What constitutes full maturity in Christ is determined by Scripture, not by the needs, preferences, or skills of the individual, the church, a ministry, or the world.
  6. Nonprofits and parachurch ministries are church renewal movements, called to equip the church comprehensively in a particular work of mercy so that work may once again be normative for Christians.
  7. God has already given us everything we need to accomplish his purposes, provided it is prepared and presented back to him as an offering.
  8. Our offering in each work of mercy begins with Participation (in projects), progresses into Engagement (where the offering becomes a normative part of our Christian life), and matures into Ownership (as we call others into Participation).
  9. Our offerings are not solo acts but rather are embedded in three communities: the household, the local church, and the church as a holy nation.
  10. We ourselves are the offering, growing in comprehensiveness and proportionality as we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in ever-maturing love of God and neighbor.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is also the International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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9 Responses to The Whole Life Ten: Christianity-as-Philanthropy

  1. Amy Karjala says:

    This is powerful stuff, Eric. Each one packs a significant challenge to me as a ministry leader and an individual Christian. I can see how fully embracing and embodying even one of these could fundamentally transform a ministry, a church and an individual. Today, number 7 jumps out at me. What would it look like if a ministry operated on the belief that they already have everything they needed to accomplish God’s purpose? Would they still raise funds with the same methods or prepare their annual budget the same way? And, I have to ask myself if my life reflects an embracing of this principle. Can’t wait to read the book!

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  6. Linda says:

    Pastor Foley, how do we embed our gifts into the church as a holy nation?

    • Pastor Foley says:

      Gifts actually arise within the church, Linda, as God blesses the service we offer there. Thus, spiritual gifts are not the property of individuals but are God’s gift to the church.

      • Linda says:

        OOoooooo— God allows us to collaborate with Him when He infuses corporate and personal assets with His grace as we offer them in the way He asks to the people and purposes that He directs. ….maybe I’m beginning to see this…

        So thankful for all of your writings, Pastor Foley…still in Awe that God could use any feeble efforts…

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