HIGHER THINKING BLOG

Christian Generosity and God’s Money By Clark Dickerson

Why Christians Are Not More Generous with God’s Money

I met a couple whose children attended a Christian school that was in the middle of a multi-million dollar capital campaign to raise funds for a new campus.  The purpose of our meeting was to discuss their financial involvement in the campaign.

Upon entering their 20,000 square foot home, I was immediately impressed with the oak floors, beautiful stone work and paintings.  There was an indoor swimming pool, gymnasium and movie theater.

We had just sat down in a magnificently decorated parlor, when the gentleman spoke about their gift to the campaign.  He said, “We know why you are visiting with us tonight.  So, we talked about the campaign.  Here’s our gift.”

With that he placed a $6,000 check on the table in front of me.

I said, “Thank you for giving because many people don’t”.

Three Pillars of Donor Stewardship in a Capital Campaign

I went on to say that it is important for everyone to understand the three pillars on which the campaign is based.  Let me share those with you.

(1) God is the owner of all.

This first pillar comes from Psalm 24:1 that says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”  And, since “all” is a very inclusive word, it means that we own absolutely nothing.

The husband leaned toward me and in all sincerity said, “Even this house?”  I responded, “Yes, your real estate agent may tell you that you own this house, but this house is part of ‘the all’ that God owns”.  He looked confused.

(2) We are stewards of God’s wealth.

I continued … pillar number two, is illustrated by the story of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. Since we do not own anything, we are simply stewards of God’s wealth. As stewards we make decisions everyday about how to spend God’s money.  Consequently, whether we buy a house or a hamburger, we are spending God’s money.  In fact, every time we spend any money at all, we are making a stewardship decision.
At this point, the gentleman said, “So, you are saying that we don’t own this house?”  I responded, “In the secular world you are perceived as owners, but in regard to your relationship with God, you are only the steward.”

(3) We are blessed so we might bless others.

I went on … the third pillar is that as Christians we are blessed so we might bless others as taught in Galatians 6:10, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

So, this campaign is about blessing the children currently at the school and the children who will attend the school in the future. It will even impact every person with whom the students come in contact with for the next 10, 20, 30 years and beyond.  Attending the school changes the lives of students and they in turn will have a future role in changing lives for the better.

Thus, gifts to the campaign are not about constructing buildings, but rather about impacting lives for good now and for years to come.

In unison they said, “I have never heard that before in my life.”

I continued … You mentioned you had talked about your gift, but I didn’t hear you say that you had prayed about it.  I asked, “Do you pray about your giving?”  The answer in unison came back, “No”.

I asked them to make the lead commitment in the parents’ portion of the campaign – a commitment of $250,000 over a three-year period.

When Donors Pray About Their Stewardship

The gentleman responded that such a gift was not something they had even considered.  I said, “I understand that and really what I ask you to give is not important.  What is important is what you feel the Lord is leading you to give”.  I asked them to pray about their commitment and if they believed the Lord gave them a number, then that is what they should give.  If they honestly didn’t feel led, then they should give what they wished.  They agreed that they would take some time to “pray” about it.

I left their home with the $6,000 check still on the table.

The next day they went to the principal’s office with a check for $150,000 and made an additional three-year commitment of $500,000.

They went from $6,000 to $650,000 simply because for the first time they understood the basics of stewardship and their role in relationship to God and His money.

I am not saying that all wealthy Christians do not give generously or that those who don’t give generously will respond as did this couple.  But, I do believe if all Christians truly understood and embraced these simple pillars of truth that giving in America would increase significantly – and not just among those who are perceived to be wealthy.

God’s message in the Bible about stewardship is a message for all – regardless of our socio-economic status.

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Clark Dickerson is the founder of Dickerson, Bakker and Associates. With 40 years of experience in fundraising and 31 years as a fundraising consultant for Christian organizations, Clark has personally provided counsel for hundreds of organizations on virtually all development topics. Having personally led over 200 capital campaigns, it is unlikely there is a campaign issue that he has not faced and overcome.

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