The Importance of Vision

January 24, 2024Inline Text Rod Irvine

The Bible and Raising Resources

There was an article in the press at the end of August 2023 reporting on a survey of clergy. Apparently a significant portion of the clergy of an historic and famous overseas denomination is advocating  for major departures from classical Christian teaching on morality. What was of particular interest was that the report stated the reason was to ‘bring the church more in line with public opinion’. It also reported that this particular denomination had been in decline for seventy unbroken years. All of this is a tragedy for a church that has over time produced some of Christendom’s most famous leaders and martyrs.

This has all sorts of ripple effects and one of these is the implications for raising resources. Some years ago I was invited to present a series of seminars to church leaders from a denomination where most, not all, had ‘progressive’ views similar to those described above. Clergy generally welcome such seminars because in this secular age money is hard to come by and clergy training tends to focus on other areas. I was somewhat ambivalent about giving my presentation as I wondered how people with progressive views about scripture could put much of it into practice.

When I wrote my book Giving Generously which explains the seminar material in depth, I certainly tried to look at what secular fundraising sources had to offer. Yet that was not my main approach,. My focus was to attempt to distil what the bible was saying about raising resources and to apply it to contemporary church life. And naturally while there will be some overlaps, the two approaches are distinctly different. I once heard the U.S pastor, Rick Warren, express the difference in the expression, ‘we are not fund raising but faith-raising’.

In a similar vein, church leader John Maxwell would say before each commitment series he conducted in his church that he expected people to grow more spiritually in the series than at any other time of the year. This is because giving and generosity challenges us at our deepest spiritual level.

As Jesus said, ’for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ Matt 5:21

Of course the reason it will be difficult to nearly impossible to raise money in morally and theologically progressive churches is that the most effective methods are based on the scripture. The challenge of giving places one in a psychological double think to reject the scripture’s teaching on morality, but embrace it on generosity. The approach I recommend in my book involves a five to six week preaching series and supporting bible studies. If one can’t preach and teach the bible with confidence in its basic authenticity, I suspect you will always struggle for money just to keep the church afloat, let alone to advance ministry. As to the above denomination’s apparent desire to bring is views into line with public opinion, it is difficult to see why people would entrust money to an organization that wants to become a religious mirror of the surrounding secular culture.

The apostle Paul wrote that ‘the holy scriptures are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.’ (2Tim 3:15) I contend that they will also make you wise in raising the resources to proclaim the salvation that is in Jesus.

 For more on raising resources see my book Giving Generously.