By Caleb Adams
Effective ministry requires money, a lot of money. Whether launching into the evangelistic field, conducting a revival meeting, sponsoring a missions project, purchasing a Sunday School bus or constructing a new sanctuary, a lot of money is required to bring a vision into reality. Raising funds can be a sensitive subject for a myriad of reasons. Many pastors are hesitant to preach about money for fear of being perceived as greedy. Many saints have been burned by past ministries that handled money unethically, and consequently are reluctant to give. Pastors and saints alike frequently believe that there simply aren’t enough funds within the congregation to fulfill the vision God has given them. The frustrating question that looms over many churches is “How are we going to raise the funds to do what God has called us to do?”
Fortunately, the Scriptures have much to say about finances, including instructions for conducting a capital campaign for a building project. It has oft been said that the will of God is always doable and affordable. In addition to supplying spiritual resources needed to accomplish His mission, God will provide the natural resources. It is my conviction that if we accept and apply biblical principals for raising money, we will have enough funds to accomplish everything God has called us to do. There are several biblical principles regarding fundraising that can help to advance the vision of the local church.
The Church Operates in God’s Economy
The American economy is still limping out of a great recession. Many of our church members have suffered financial setbacks in recent years. And furthermore, many of our saints are people of humble means. However, it is important to for us to grasp that God’s economy is not in recession or depression! The level of financial blessing God gives his people has absolutely no connection to man’s economy. In God’s economy, the church will have enough money to keep advancing regardless of the state of the world around it. In God’s economy, five loaves and two fishes are enough to feed five thousand men along with their wives and children. A little meal in the bottom of a barrel and a little oil in the bottom of the bottle is enough to sustain a family through years of famine. In God’s economy ravens bring bread and meat to a hungry preacher twice a day, and coins are plucked out of the mouth of fish to pay the bills. Our people must accept this by faith and give accordingly.
Bless What God is Blessing
The only way to switch from man’s economy to God’s is to get behind what God is blessing with all of your might. God told Abraham And I will bless them that bless thee” (Gen 12:3). When we discover an area of ministry that God is blessing with open doors and special anointing, we should open our wallets and bless it with our natural resources. There are channels of giving that are especially blessed, and when we find them, we should increase our giving to these areas. “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2 Cor 9:6). To continue the analogy between giving and sowing…how much better will your harvest be if you sow into fertile soil? If we give to a fruitful ministry, we compound the blessing! I am convinced that finding where God is moving, and blessing should determine how we give, as opposed to finding the area of greatest need. If we bless what He has blessed, we enter a cycle of blessing in which the one doing the blessing become the one being blessed.
The Building Fund, the Bible Way
The Old Testament records two major capital campaigns used to raise money to build places of worship; Moses’ Tabernacle in the Wilderness and Solomon’s Temple. These two fundraising drives shared many similarities, and I believe they provide a template for raising funds in our churches. By observing the attitude and manner in which Moses and David collected the needed funds to build these temples we can learn principles that will still work today.
No High-Pressure Offerings!
If you have been around the church for any significant length of time, I am certain, you have sat through more than your fair share of services in which lengthy, high-pressured appeals were made to get people to give. Ironically, it usually seems that the higher the pressure, the more\ people tend to clamp down on their wallets. Biblical fundraising never included such high-pressured appeals. Notice the attitude with which people gave to Moses and David. `And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it… And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD’S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments” (Ex 35:421).
“Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD” (1 Chr 29:9).
From these passages, we can conclude that the biblical concept of raising money for a building is joyful, freewill offerings from the congregation. High-pressure pledge drives, shaming tactics, and manipulations are not part of biblical fundraising. Offerings should never be coerced from the people of God. Instead, the leader should cast a vision for the thing that needs to be done and trust that God will stir the hearts of the people to respond in giving. Often when people are reluctant to give, it is a due to poorly communicated vision. It has been my experience that when people get the vision for growing the Kingdom, they will open their hearts and their wallets.
Everything We Need is in the Congregation
“For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much” (Ex 36:7).
I have heard people exclaim over the years that “If God would just bring a couple of millionaires into our church, we could build.” Statements such as this are far removed from what Scripture teaches. God does not need outside help to get his church built! God will see to it that people in the local church are supplied with every penny needed to fund the local church. God’s methods for financing his man and his work have never changed. God has ordained tithe to support the ministers of the church, and freewill offerings to support the material needs of the congregation. When we resort to selling peanut brittle, washing cars, selling candy bars, and hosting walk-a-thons to pay church bills, we are robbing the people of the blessing of doing it God’s way. One has to wonder if excessive fundraisers bring reproach from unbelievers. How can the church preach that God is powerful enough to change lives when we portray that he hasn’t given us enough resources to meet our financial obligations? The modern church has been blessed abundantly to fund revival in the end-time, it’s about time our giving match our blessings. Giving, not fundraising should be the primary means of supporting the vision of the local church.
Tested with Blessing
Towards the end of his life, David led Israel in a capital campaign to assemble the needed funds and materials that Solomon would later use to build the temple. It is interesting to note David’s perspective towards the things Israel gave to build the temple.
“LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own. I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things…” (1 Chron 29:16-17)
Here David states that God gave Israel things to try the heart as to whether they would be willing to give. Could it be that one of the greatest tests of faith we will ever face is that of blessing? What will you do when God lays significant blessing in your hands? If inheritances, insurance settlements, record-breaking years in your business, and other great blessing come your way, will you use what you’ve been given to further the Kingdom? Or will you use your windfall to pursue selfish pleasures without giving regard to the Kingdom? These moments that may only occur once or twice in a lifetime are a major test of what is in your heart. I believe we should commit to God to go above and beyond the call of duty when surplus blessings are laid in our lap. When we pass the test of blessings, we are destined to receive a further blessing in this life, as well as the life to come.
Caleb Adams received his call into the ministry at the young age of 14 and currently serves as the pastor of Christian Life Tabernacle in Memphis.