Getting Money Christianly
Seven questions to help you keep the faith in fundraising
What Christians believe should shape how Christians behave … at least that’s what I’ve always been taught. And yet, after 25 years of church ministry, I have often observed Christian leaders — myself included — fail to integrate faith and the mundane tasks of ministry.
Peter Harris and Rod Wilson have witnessed that same failure by Christian leaders — themselves included — when it comes to raising money for ministry, so they wrote Keeping Faith in Fundraising.
The book is not a how-to manual, at least not if how-to is defined by maximal dollars raised through minimal effort. If you’re looking for that kind of book, look elsewhere. Or better, start with this book and then decide whether the maximal-dollar-minimal-effort approach is appropriate for Christian ministry.
Instead of writing that kind of how-to manual, Harris and Wilson turn to the apostle Paul for insight about how to get money Christianly, that is, in a way that is congruent with the gospel. They identify seven themes in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 that are central to Christian philanthropic work. For each theme, they identify a guiding question to help Christian fundraisers recalibrate their work for Kingdom ends.
Harris and Wilson turn to the apostle Paul for insight about how to get money Christianly, that is, in a way that is congruent with the gospel.
Here are the seven themes and guiding questions:
- Integration: “Are our Christian commitments and beliefs fully integrated into every aspect of our fundraising endeavors?”
- People: “In our work of raising funds, do we see people as being of much more value than the money they provide?”
- Work: “Do we position our fundraising work in the bigger story of God’s work in the world?”
- Success: “In the kingdom work of fundraising, is the financial outcome the only measure of success and failure?”
- Need: “If we emphasize the needs we are seeking to meet, do we risk negating God’s calling and priorities for both asker and giver?”
- Method: “Does an overemphasis on techniques in fundraising blind us to the reality that both askers and givers need to pay careful attention to the call of God in the process?”
- Money: “Do we understand money simply as a transaction in the fundraising process or as something transformative for all concerned?”
Keeping Faith in Fundraising is a short, nontechnical book. Harris and Wilson are mature Christian leaders with decades of fundraising experience. In many ways, their book raises more questions than it answers. Even so, I found their thoughtful approach to the topic helpful.
Sometimes, it turns out, it’s more important to ask the right questions than to have ready-made answers, which is exactly what this little gem of a book does.
Book Reviewed: Peter Harris and Rod Wilson, Keeping Faith in Fundraising (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2017).