Two weeks ago, my husband and I went to the State Fair. I love the fair. After going for so many years, we have our path down pat. We wade through the carnival area (hoping not to lose our cookies at the mere sight of some of the rides) and then head over to the photography building.
After a stop at the gizmo hall we make our way to see the quilts, Legos, and the decorated cakes in the hall of hobbies. We finish up with a coveted soft-serve ice cream cone and a visit to yes - this is true - the pigs. Who doesn’t love to see a 600-pound sow with her darling piglets?
My favorite section is the gizmo building. I’m mesmerized by people hawking their cool and often weird items that I never knew I needed. This year, I bought Gripstic Bag Sealers – guaranteed, no doubt, to keep my chips, cereal, and whatever else fresh until Jesus returns.
As I wandered through that building, it struck me that sometimes we in the church think of stewardship and fundraising kind of like the gizmo building at the fair:
it feels a little seedy
many of us are rushing through to avoid most of it, and
some just want to skip it all together.
What if instead we reframed our thinking and started viewing fundraising and stewardship as ministry?
One of my favorite books is the 64-page classic by Henri Nouwen, A Spirituality of Fundraising.
I recently purchased its accompanying “Workbook Edition.” It serves as a four-week study of Nouwen’s work on the topic and helps the reader, among other things, do their own work around money to see fundraising as a deeply spiritual and life-giving endeavor.
Nathan Ball, who helped write the workbook, states at the beginning:
From the perspective of the gospel, fundraising is not a response to crisis. Fundraising is, first and foremost, a form of ministry. It is a way of announcing our vision and inviting other people into our mission…
Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people the opportunity to participate in our vision and mission. Fundraising is precisely the opposite of begging. When we seek to raise funds we are not saying, “Please, could you help us out because lately it's been hard.” Rather, we are declaring, “We have a mission that is amazing and exciting…” (emphasis added).
In this season of focused stewardship, it may do you well to shift your mindset and think of fundraising and stewardship as ministry rather than as a necessary evil.
It may change your heart to move your thinking about stewardship from:
- a “have to” to a “want to”
- an “oh no” to “this is transformational work”
- trying to avoid it to seeing that God is in the midst of it.
Fundraising and stewardship changes both the asker and the person who is the focus of the ask. Rather than being a terrible, awful, no-good experience, it can be one where a person receives the gift of opening their heart to the possibilities God has for them.
Want to do a little more reading?
Henri Nouwen Says: Gratitude is a Discipline
Fundraising as a Spiritual Practice
Henri Nouwen and A Spirituality of Fundraising
Photo credit: kasjany @pixabay.com