A monthly donor may be a lapsed donor (the final installment of our series on lapsed donors)

Unless we can come to grips with the idea that a monthly giver might be a lapsed champion, we’ll never understand Transformational Giving.

It’s a crazy idea. But as many crazy ideas are, it’s a biblical one. Check out these words of Jesus from Revelation 2:1-5:

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

When do champions lapse? Not only when their activity ceases. And certainly not only when their giving ceases.

Champions lapse first and foremost when they forsake their first love.

In relation to nonprofitministrydom (did I just write that?), that happens when they stop seeking to walk in the works God has prepared for them to walk in in relation to the cause you both share. Those works are not for their salvation. They’re works designed to grow the champion into the full stature of Christ in relation to the cause He’s given you to coach them in (in collaboration with their local church).

When that happens, the good shepherd will do something more than send a letter that begins:

It’s been a year since you sent me a check and, frankly, I’m concerned about you.

OK, actually I’m more concerned about the check that you are not sending and the fact that my ministry’s finances are going down the hopper. I’ve heard the easiest way to remedy that is to send a letter to the folks who got annoyed the most recently and  stopped responding to all this mail I keep sending even though they haven’t asked me to send them anything at all.

Or something like that.

It’s possible to state what a lapsed champion program looks like in just a few bullet points:

  1. Ask, ‘What does the Bible call the cause for which God has called me to coach and disciple His people?’ The Bible doesn’t use words like ‘homeless shelter’ or ‘crisis pregnancy’, but it does have an awful lot to say about every cause to which we ministries are called by Him. Once we identify what the Bible calls the cause to which we’ve been called, we can ask:
  2. ‘What does the Bible call every Christian to do in relation to this cause?’ It’s not about earning salvation. It’s about being shaped in the image of Christ. That means God is going to take us through certain experiences, many of which we won’t like or feel passionate about. What are those experiences in relation to your cause?
  3. We then ask, ‘What are the roadblocks to champions doing what the Scripture calls for in relation to the cause?’ Once we identify those we can ask:
  4. ‘What can our organization do with the champion to remove those roadblacks and enable the champion to grow one step a time closer and closer to the fullness of what God has for them to walk in in relation to this cause?’
  5. A champion map developed with each champion then enables us to create with a personalized annual plan to break off and tackle different pieces of that challenge every year.
  6. Lapsing happens–or, better yet, losing a sheep happens–not only when the champion stops working the plan, but also when they keep working the plan after losing their first love. In other words, it’s just work then. They give…under compulsion or out of habit. They volunteer…out of guilt. They act…because it’s easier than not acting.

How do you measure a condition of the heart?

A good place to start is with the approach pioneered by World Vision’s Atul Tandon. You can read more about it here. If you are truly, deadly, deeply, madly serious about regularly taking the pulse of your champions and noting it individually, not just en masse, you’ll have no problem detecting a flatline.

Sum up the whole week and say:

Lapsing is a condition of the heart.

It takes more than running a transactional query on giving recency to determine who has lapsed. It may be true that a person who once gave regularly but who stopped giving has lapsed. But in Transformational Giving, it’s only trivially true.

Lapsing happens when the champion, having created a specific champion map with you, based on your mutual discernment of what the Bible calls every Christian to do in relation to the cause you share, begins falling away from the cause in his or her heart, even while their activity may be continuing unabated.

When that happens, what do you do?

You heard Jesus, friend. Yank the lampstand and conk them over the head with it. Mutual accountability, remember?

Don’t miss this month’s Mission Increase Foundation workshops on lapsed champions for more info on this topic. Or if you already have, watch for the DVD of me teaching this workshop from earlier this month in Colorado Springs. Should be available in the MIF Store by mid-summer 2009.

Hope you enjoyed the topic this week. Shepherd, go fetch your sheep!

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 the former 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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1 Response to A monthly donor may be a lapsed donor (the final installment of our series on lapsed donors)

  1. Pingback: More than a feeling, part VI: Recommit yourself with each gift « Transformational Giving

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