The Theology of TG: Two Excellent New Articles to Undergird Your Practice of Transformational Giving

As I noted in a prior post entitled In Praise of Works, Transformational Giving runs on sanctification software.

As such, we TG practitioners, more than our traditional transactional fundraising counterparts, need to always keep our theological edge sharp, because it is we ourselves, and not just our technique, that are being transformed so that we may equip others for transformation by the Holy Spirit.

To that end, meet two great resources:

1. David Powlison’s God’s Love: Better Than Unconditional. The idea that “God accepts me just as I am” is often followed by the idea that “It is not only unnecessary for me to grow to fullness in Christ; it may even induce works righteousness.” Powlison debunks both concepts in brief but deep prose. Check out this gorgeous excerpt quoted by Justin Taylor in a favorable send-up of Powlison’s booklet:

God does not accept me just as I am;

He loves me despite how I am;

He loves me just as Jesus is;

He loves me enough to devote my life to renewing me in the image of Jesus.

This love is much, much, much better than unconditional! Perhaps we could call it “contraconditional” love.

Contrary to the conditions for knowing God’s blessing, He has blessed me because His Son fulfilled the conditions.

Contrary to my due, He loves me.

And now I can begin to change, not to earn love but because of love.

. . . You need something better than unconditional love.

You need the crown of thorns.

You need the touch of life to the dead son of the widow of Nain.

You need the promise to the repentant thief.

You need to know, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

You need forgiveness.

You need a Vinedresser, a Shepherd, a Father, a Savior.

You need to become like the one who loves you.

You need the better love of Jesus.

That’s just achingly beautiful. You could build a champion coaching program on that quote alone.

2. Kyle Childress’ Truth Dazzles Gradually. Principle Four from the Whole Life Offering Ten says, “Full maturity in Christ is learned, not latent.” In practice, that means that churches and nonprofits need to create spaces and places and situations in which their members and donors can grow in maturity, not just activity. And maturity is not simply the result of members and donors pursuing the areas of their natural interest and gifting. Childress compares discipleship to learning how to play the piano, and he offers this piercing insight into the need for mentors (like you) and a “community of friends” (like you should be shaping your members/donors to be to one another corporately):

[T]here is no substitute for the slow, sometimes painful growth that comes through disciplined habits of practice shaped by the crucified and risen Christ.  One does not become an excellent piano player, painter, dancer, carpenter, or baseball player overnight; neither does one learn to become a Christian overnight.  We can’t know Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, in five quick easy lessons accompanied by an inspirational DVD.  One needs teachers and mentors and a community of friends, and one needs to practice over a long period of time.

Assure your members and donors that God’s “contraconditional love” makes it possible–and desirable–for them to grow to fullness in Christ in relation to your cause.

And may your church or nonprofit be a place that sustains–and insists upon–the slow, sometimes painful growth in the cause at the hands of mentors and a community of friends that marks the inimitable growth of all true disciples of Christ.

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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