Wesley K. Willmer, Ph.D., Editor
This article provided by the Engstrom Institute
The following ten principles are the culmination of the prayer and work of a task force of Christian leaders convened by Wesley Willmer to address the nature of biblical stewardship and fundraising.
Christian leaders, including development staff, who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and choose prayerfully to pursue eternal kingdom values (Mt. 6:19-21), will seek to identify the sacred kingdom resources of God’s economy within this simple list of ten principles:
1. God, the creator (Gen. 1) and sustainer of all things (Col. 1:17) and the One “who works within us to accomplish far more than we can ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20), is a God of infinite abundance (Ps. 50:10-11) and grace (2 Cor. 9:8).
2. Acknowledging the primacy of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16) as our chief treasure (Mt. 13:44), Christians are called to lives of stewardship, as managers of all that God has entrusted to them (1 Cor. 4:1-2).
3. A Christian’s attitude toward possessions on earth is important to God (Mt. 6:24), and there is a vital link between how believers utilize earthly possessions (as investments in God’s kingdom) and the eternal rewards that believers receive (Phil. 4:17).
4. God entrusts possessions to Christians and holds them accountable for their use, as a tool to grow God’s eternal kingdom, as a test of the believer’s faithfulness to God, and as a trademark that their lives reflect Christ’s values (Lk. 16:1-9).
5. From God’s abounding grace, Christians’ giving reflects their gratitude for what God has provided and involves growing in an intimate faith relationship with Christ as Lord of their lives (Mk. 12:41-44).
6. Because giving is a worshipful, obedient act of returning to God from what has been provided (1 Chron. 29:10-14), Christian fundraisers should hold a conviction that, in partnership with the church, they have an important role in the spiritual maturation of believers (James 3:1).
7. The primary role of Christian fundraisers is to advance and facilitate a believer’s faith in and worship of God through a Christ-centered understanding of stewardship that is solidly grounded on Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16).
8. Recognizing it is the work of the Holy Spirit that prompts Christians to give (In. 15:4-5) (often through fundraising techniques) (2 Cor. 9:5-7, Neh. 1:4-11), fundraisers and/ or organizations must never manipulate or violate their sacred trust with ministry partners.
9. An eternal, God-centered worldview promotes cooperation, rather than competition, among organizations, and places the giver’s relationship to God above the ministry’s agenda (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
10. In our materialistic, self-centered culture, Christian leaders should acknowledge that there is a great deal of unclear thinking about possessions, even among believers, and that an eternal kingdom perspective will often seem like foolish nonsense (1 Cor. 2:14) to those who rely on earthly kingdom worldview techniques (1 Cor. 2:1-5).
When these principles are implemented, that rely on God changing hearts more than on human methods, the resulting joy-filled generosity of believers will fully fund God’s work here on earth (Ex. 36:6-7).
A note from the editor
In 2003, noting that Christian organizations tended to use secular fundraising methods with little consideration of whether those practices were consistent with God’s Word, I convened a national task force under the joint auspices of the Christian Stewardship Association (now the Christian Leadership Alliance, CLA) and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) to address this concern. The task force consisted of twenty-three Christian leaders, including three with experience as seminary presidents.[i]
The motivation behind the document was that Christian leaders raising resources for ministries are called to be emissaries of Christ in their field. It is inconsistent with their faith to simply import secular practices and theories of fundraising into a Christian context. Rather, Christians must have the attitude of stewards, called by God to faithfully administer resources He has bestowed. As Christians, we should acknowledge that God is the creator of all, and has entrusted all we have to care for it with His glory in mind. These principles have been written with the belief that if fundraising by Christians is to reflect their convictions, it must be thoroughly biblical in character, and God-honoring in practice. They will hopefully serve as a guide to church and parachurch ministries who desire to do their work as stewards honoring God.
About the editor: Wesley Willmer, Ph.D, is Senior Vice President of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. He previously served 19 years as vice president of advancement at Biola University. He has 38 years of experience as a professor, researcher and administrator in four higher educational institutions and has authored 23 books.
[i] The members of the joint CSA—ECFA Task Force that developed the Biblical Principles for Stewardship and Fundraising (with titles as of the time of committee service) were: Randy Alcorn (Founder and Director, Eternal Perspectives Ministries), Rebekah Burch Basinger (Consultant for Fundraising and Board Education), Ron Blue (Managing Partner, Ronald Blue & Co.), Howard Dayton (CEO, Crown Financial Ministries), Lu Dunbar (President, Royal Treasure), Daryl J. Heald (President, Generous Giving), Thomas Jeavons (General Secretary, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends), Brian Kluth (Senior Pastor, First Evangelical Free Church, Colorado Springs, CO), Lauren Libby (Vice President and COO, The Navigators), Tom McCabe (President, KMA), ThomasH. McCallie III (Attorney, Maclellan Foundation), David L. McKenna (Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Spring Arbor College; Former President: Spring Arbor College, Seattle Pacific University, and Asbury Theological Seminary), Adam Morris (Committee Vice Chair, and Senior Director of Stewardship and Resource Development, Biola University), Richard J. Mouw (President and Professor, Fuller Theological Seminary), Paul D. Nelson (President, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability), John Pearson (CEO, Christian Management Association), Scott Preissler (President and CEO, Christian Stewardship Association), R. Scott Rodin (Consultant; Former President: Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary), J. David Schmidt (President, J. David Schmidt & Associates), Janet Stump (Director of Development, Association of Christian Schools International), Rollin Van Broekhoven (Federal Judge, Washington, D.C.), Mark Vincent (President and Lead Partner, Design for Ministry, Mennonite Church), Wesley K. Willmer (Committee Chair, and Vice President of University Advancement and Professor, Biola University).
Source: CHRISTIAN ALLIANCE LEADERSHIP