Monday, February 25, 2013

Four lies about "disposable income"

"That guy won't be able to give because he doesn't have any disposable income."

That's what I heard a fundraiser say recently about someone he was planning to meet with to ask for support. While I understand what he meant by the statement, I think it reflects a wrong view of fundraising - a wrong view that I also share all too often.

Hidden behind those words is the assumption that fundraisers are asking for the scraps of people's budgets. It's as though we're asking people for the money that they'd otherwise throw away or spend on meaningless things.

There are at least four lies behind that belief:

Lie #1: Christians have disposable income

If I knew any Christian who treated money as though it were disposable, I'd sit down with them quickly and talk to them about stewardship. Jesus has a lot to say about money, including, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Mt 6:21). What does it say about our hearts if we're throwing away money?

Lie #2: Our ministry is only worth the scraps

What a low view we must have of our ministry (and I dare say, our God) to believe that our ministry is only worth the scraps! If a famous world leader asked you to accomplish a mission for him, would you go about it as though it were unimportant? Would you ask for the scraps of the military or the rejects of the intelligence agency? Certainly not - you would ask the leader for SEAL Team Six and a six or nine figure budget and a story in every major newspaper. If he called you to this mission, he'd better well equip you. And everyone had better know what they can do to help. No one would dare offer you their scraps! 

How much greater is our God than even the mightiest of world leaders?

Lie #3: Our ministry only requires the scraps

Jesus is not offering us scraps to accomplish our mission. He's entrusting us with the hearts and souls of His people, calling us to shepherd the 99 and chase after the 1, forgiving seventy-times-seven times and giving up all our rights in the process. This will require huge, heaping portions of grace every day: spiritual, mental, emotional, relational and certainly financial. Woe to us if we expect to get by on scraps!

Lie #4: Jesus only asks for the scraps

Fundraising is a training ground for what you'll be doing once you've raised your support. At that point, what will you be asking of those you're ministering to? Will you ask people to give Jesus their scraps? Should they spend time with Him as they find opportunity? Should pursuing holiness be prioritized somewhere between trimming your toenails and repainting the den?

Shortly before accepting Christ as my Savior, I said to a Christian, "I've been told that God only asks for an hour of our time each week [at church]." He wisely responded, "God doesn't want an hour. He wants everything." I was offended by that, but for the first time, I understood that God was bigger than me. He wanted more than my scraps.

Here's how Jesus said it Himself: 
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. . . .So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26-27, 33)

I've written strongly on this matter because these lies about "disposable income" can be so devastating to our effectiveness - and it has been to mine from time to time. Don't believe them!

Remember your position as beloved sons and daughters of the Most High God. When you ask others to be part of your Father's work, don't ask for scraps; Ask BIG, and do so with equal measures of grace and boldness. 

Jesus is worthy of nothing less.