This is the third in a series of posts that we will be publishing over the next 5 Mondays on the topic of giving and 20 schemes.
Apparently, we at 20schemes do fund-raising all wrong—at least, that is, according to the “experts.”
Part of my role at 20schemes is to facilitate partnerships in North America, including funding from church and individual partners. We recently sent a round of letters to churches in the US, introducing the ministry and asking them to consider including us in their 2015 missions budgets. Having never written a fundraising letter before, I did what any skilled professional would do—I Googled it. One site offered the following statement:
Direct marketing professionals say that the top motivating factors that get people to take action are guilt, fear, exclusivity, greed, and anger.
Imagine my horror! To motivate you to support gospel-work in Scotland, I must encourage you to deny the gospel in your heart through the worship of idols!
This week we will look at:
I’m supposed to motivate you with the promise of exclusivity. In other words, I’m to promise our donors public recognition and entrance into an elite circle.
Perhaps we should create and publicly publish levels of giving—such as, “Mez’s Menagerie,” “Sharon’s Soldiers,”“Matthew’s Minions,” and so forth. The more you give, the higher your name goes on the list, which will be read by all the subscribers to our newsletter. “After all, you wouldn’t want your friends seeing how little you give, would you?”
Or, perhaps, we promise closer association with fame. In this path, we play up (and pursue) the fame of our leaders. Those who give enough will gain entrance into the inner rings of evangelical fame and friendship. “Give to 20schemes, so you can get closer to (and share) fame.”
Or, maybe, we treat people in different ways depending on their perceived power and wealth. Thus, regular run-of-the-mill £/$10-a-month givers get a receipt and a form-letter “thank you.” But those who possess millions will be “wined and dined” with first class treatment. “We’ll make you feel special in exchange for a bit of your power and wealth.”
I can’t do this either. First, our Lord expressly forbids giving in order to be seen and praised by others (Matthew 6:2-4). We are not a ministry that honors the Lord if we encourage you to do what he forbids.
Most importantly, favoritism toward the wealthy is incompatible with the gospel. In James 2, we read, “show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.”James’ illustration is that of giving preferential treatment to the posh, well-dressed man in church to the neglect of the poor, shabby-looking man.
The essence of the command is not exhausted by the illustration. It goes beyond how we greet and seat guests in corporate worship. We are not to show partiality to the rich over the poor in any aspect of the Christian life, ministry fundraising included.
Such distinctions between rich and poor deny the grace of the gospel. James asks, “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom?” Such distinctions dishonor the poor and violate the royal law, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
20schemes is a ministry to “Scotland’s poorest.” Imagine the hypocrisy if we attempted to love the poor by treating the rich as if they are better. Likewise, if we promise people a position near the rich or famous in exchange for some coin. Such a ministry ought not be supported or even heard; its message has no credibility.
So instead, I ask that you partner with 20schemes because you have been included.Citizenship in the Kingdom of God, and all that comes with it, is not given on the basis of wealth, social status, gender, ethnicity, physical beauty, strength, or intelligence. It is ours by grace through faith, which is a gift from God, which unites us to Jesus Christ. When we were once dead in sin and slaves to Satan, God made us alive and included us in his people through the forgiveness of our sins.
Let us not give in order to receive a temporary, exclusive standing among men (a standing that will vanish at the appearance of the Lord). Rather, let us give out of the great joy of having been included in the people of God, desiring that others might hear, believe and join us.
by Eric Schumacher, former Director of Operations at 20schemes