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
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.
- We are each called to full maturity in Christ, learning and reflecting him rather than being specialists, supporters, or solvers.
- 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.
- 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.
- Full maturity in Christ is learned, not latent.
- 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.
- 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.
- God has already given us everything we need to accomplish his purposes, provided it is prepared and presented back to him as an offering.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.