Monday, October 15, 2012

Is fundraising the same as begging?

When I suggest that someone join a mission that requires fundraising, a common response is, "Oh, I couldn't never beg people for money!"

Is fundraising the same as begging?

Well, there is certainly overlap between the two! In both cases...
  • they happen because a person needs what they are unable to provide for themselves, especially money. 
  • the receiver is grateful to the giver regardless of the amount of the gift. 
  • one-time gifts are great, but regular gifts are even better!
  • those who do so can easily feel incompetent and alone, especially over time.
However, the Bible never refer to fundraising as begging. Rather, the Scriptures turn that whole idea on its head:
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints - and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5 ESV, emphasis mine)
Did you see that? Here the begging takes place on the part of the giver, not the ones needing "relief"! The Macedonians have given even out of their "extreme poverty" because "the grace of God has been given among the churches."

Note also that Paul says that the Macedonians gave themselves "first to the Lord and then . . . to us." What does that mean? Likely this was a recommitment of their lives to Jesus, which then turned into an outpouring of faith-inspired generosity. My guess is that they began meditating on their own state as spiritual beggars - needy, helpless, alone. They remembered that it was into their broken, hopeless state that Jesus Christ came. He was the Way, the Life and the Truth that they had dreamed of all their lives. Because of His death and resurrection, they would have immeasurably more than all they could ask or imagine. What, then, is wealth in this age? At that point they emptied their pockets, knowing that God would provide just what they needed when they needed it. He already had.

Learn therefore from the Macedonians how you ought to think about fundraising: rather than fearing that you might be seen as a beggar, recognize the truth that you already are. Moreover, your need was infinitely greater than any number of appointments, phone calls or Facebook messages could ever provide. No amount of time in fundraising could pay your debt. No gift was large enough - except for the gift of the Giver Himself. Only when you accept this are you free to give yourself.

Is fundraising the same as begging? No. But that doesn't mean you aren't a beggar. The more you embrace that, the more you'll be able to give yourself first to the Lord and then, by the will of God, to your fundraising.

And to whatever else He calls you to.