What is our Motivation in Giving?

I do not want to be critical of other ministries and for that reason I am not citing any particular examples and I am naming no names, but I would like to address the various methods being used to raise funds these days. We have seen everything from heart-felt pleas to down-right begging. We have seen clever programs as well as almost every gimmick conceivable. We understand as much as any ministry the role that finances play in fulfilling our ministries goals, however I truly believe that we need to be careful that we maintain proper motivation as well as communicate a proper message about our mission. First of all a need-based approach to missions sends the wrong message both to contributors and recipients of our efforts. It has long been believed that personal connection was necessary to motivate people's giving. Organizations created adopt a child, church, orphan, student, etc programs. We witnessed ministries shifting the focus of communication to raise funds or even worse opening orphanages not because they were needed but as revenue streams. All of this created a tremendously powerful motivation for people to give based upon deeply emotional pleas. However, both Christian and secular organizations are starting to question the use of these emotional pleas for a number of reasons. First of all it is now largely believed that this leads to a feeling-based giving. If I feel like giving--I give. If I do not feel like giving--I do not give. The needs we face in our mission work cannot be subject to the emotional whims of our contributors. Secondly, we have witnessed over and over that there is a limit to the ability of peoples to respond emotionally to any given scenario. People will become overwhelmed and exhausted. When this happens, giving will simply dry up. Tim Dearborn describes it this way: "The good hearted people always want to respond with compassion and kindness but we have worked ourselves into exhaustion with exhortations to give more, do more, care more, serve more, love more, if we are not careful we reduce missions to no more than a human response to human need. The Church's involvement in mission is its privileged participation in the actions of almighty God. Without this news of great hope and full confidence in God's infinite love, we will have the sense of missions as an exhausting human enterprise. We'll feel as if we have been handed the Great Commission as a great duty, and that the job is completely up to us. This inevitably leads to burnout. Missions was never intended to be an exhausting human enterprise. Misssion is our privileged participation in the life-giving action of our God." I suggest that our message needs to change but this cannot occur if our attitude does not change.

Lastly, we must be careful that we are not sending the wrong message about our understanding of the Kingdom and our role in extending it. To quote Rolland Allen, "The Ministry cannot become primarily a financial operation, and we constantly hear our missionaries lament that they cannot open new works where they are sorely needed, because they have not the necessary funds. But it ought not properly to be a financial operation, and the moment it is allowed to appear as such, that moment very false and dangerous elements are introduced into our work." I would suggest that the Kingdom is being built because God is King. I believe that he is fully capable of funding His work without our begging, our manipulating, without gimmicks and without emotional pleas. I believe that we should present God's people opportunity to participate in His endeavors as both a means of honoring Him as King and using our lives and resources to participate in His eternal purpose. I believe this should be our motivation.

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