And the next time you consider playing the lottery, remember that God doesn’t need money to do a great work. If your ministry is truly of God, and you remain faithful until the end, you too will turn your faith into an Act of God.
I just received the latest “call to arms” email from Tom Fortson, president of Promise Keepers. It seems that they are looking at a $3 million dollar shortfall this year – “due in part to an unexpected drop in donations these past few months”. It was a nice fundraising letter, addressed directly to me and using my name a few places here and there to make it seem more personal. It even came from the “desk of Tom Fortson” which means that I must be really important!
I also get almost daily mailings (it seems) from Candice Gregory, president of Open Door Mission here in Omaha. Almost every mailing – very nicely done – requests that I send more money. You see, I made a sizable gift to them last fall and now they think they found a piggy bank.
I spent $80 to go to the Promise Keepers event in Omaha this year. According to the mailing, they served 147,000 men in 12 conferences this year. That means that even at the $80 discount rate, they raised $11,760,000 in ticket sales alone. That doesn’t count sales of CD’s, DVD’s, T-Shirts, books etc. That brings it almost over $1 million per conference. I was at the Omaha conference and I don’t think they spent $1 million putting on that event. I know the box lunch wasn’t worth it! 🙂 So, why do they still need to raise more money? Why do they have to spend money on these endless mailings to beg for more money. I wonder what their fundraising budget is? Do you suppose that they spent $3 million on fundraising?
How about our local homeless shelter. I get too many mailings now from them – and these are not cheap marketing pieces. These cost a lot of money. I would guess that they have spent at least $300 trying to get me to donate more money. I am sure that had I given $100 they would have sent me the same mailings. Does that make sense?
John Lindsay produces a new show in Branson, MO called “Act of God”. I had corresponded with him via email and had an opportunity to talk to him after watching a performance. I mentioned to him that I wished I would win the lottery so I could finance productions like his. He told me that he had just written an article about how Act of God came to be. He suggested I read it. The first paragraph says it all.
The lottery is a unique way to gage a culture’s level of faith in God. The number of people attending their favorite lottery retailer would likely rival local church or synagogue attendance. The lottery isn’t evil, but it is clearly a symptom of a problem, as well as an indication of our spiritual direction. Either that or I overlooked the Bible character that was blessed for waiting until they came into money before starting their ministry. [continued…Faith as an Act of God]
I think this applies not only to lotteries but also fundraising. Whether we are trying to raise money to perpetuate organizations like Promise Keepers or Open Door Mission, or trying to build a new church building – we need to stop and think – Faith or Fundraising.
I am involved in an ongoing discussion about the appropriate use of money by Christian organizations. Is it appropriate to utilize debt in a building campaign?[Church Debt: Is It Biblical?] Is it discerning to build big fancy church buildings that will be only used on Sundays? How much overhead is too much overhead? What is the churches role in caring for the poor, sick, homeless, widowed? Are we failing that role in America? Some home church advocates suggest that we don’t have buildings. Some even suggest that churches are embezelling God’s money.
I am not an expert. I don’t have some magical solution to the problems of money and the church. I don’t even have a firm answer on church debt. I do know one thing – I am getting tired of receiving mail from Christian organizations asking me to send them more money. If, as the Promise Keeper letter states, these organizations “believe our purpose and calling is from the Lord Himself”, then wouldn’t the Lord Himself also make sure they had the necessary resources to run the organization?
As Dan Rather once (should have) said – “Faith”.
UPDATE: I just found this site on the internet that rates charitable organizations. I looked up PK and found that in 2004 they made over $24 million and spend a little over $3 million on fundraising. I assume that their expenditures this year are similar to last years which, if I’m not mistaken is the amount they say they are short this year. Hmmmmm
Check your favorite charity at the Charity Navigator
I don’t believe there’s a believer who doesn’t dread their own mailbox due to Christian fundraising, and, if they haven’t, they’ve never purchased something from a ministry. Prior to the opening of the Christian musical production Act of God, I sent word out to 20 or so established ministries and requested that they confirm that the content of Act of God didn’t compromise God’s word. I received 10 very respectful complimentary letters of denial from mail sorters, and ended up on a bunch of mailing lists and have been aggressively solicited to ever since. We simply wanted to be held accountable to someone respectable in the Christian community. High-ups of popular ministries are highly insulated, but are we not called to edify one another? If our desire is to encourage our brothers and sisters won’t we create more opportunities to be an encouragement if we seek out those opportunities? Is it wise then to ignore any opportunity to edify? No? Then why aren’t most major ministries making it a practice to encourage their supporters? Is sending a monthly new letter a form of encouragement when it’s sent with plea for financial support complete with a return envelope? What makes a great ministry in God’s eyes? We pray that Act of God is allowed to continue to serve others based on God’s holy word until the end and will never get too big to where it can’t see even the smallest of needs that God has presented for us to meet. After all, great ministries should have the same qualities as their source. The Bible is purchased once and continues to give regardless of circumstance. We hope that Act of God, after its ticket is purchased and performance is viewed, will continue to bless others long after the final bow. The same rules that apply to ministries should apply to the individual as well. Since we’ve been bought with the blood of Christ, we should be prepared and willing to continue to do God’s work until the end. So, are you supporting a ministry that maintains the same quality as the Bible? If not, it’s time to take yourselves off their mailing list and continue to work like you’ve been paid for and hopefully, in time, your ministry will follow you.
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