The question I get asked most frequently when discussing Transformational Giving is not, is this "Biblically sound", but rather, "where do I start?"
For those that read this blog and are seasoned practitioners of the principles of transformational giving such a question like where do I start may seem overly elementary and fairly straight-forward. But for others, I think this is a very legitimate and even challenging question to answer.
So, at the risk of being overly simple, I thought I would map out a few things to consider as you start.
Investing time in the Scriptures -Perhaps of greatest importance in the task of coaching others to fuller maturity in Christ as it relates to our various causes, is a depth of understanding and spiritual maturity that can only be realized by having our minds renewed by God's word. As leaders, we must not neglect the duty of pulling away and delighting in the study of the Scriptures. The following thoughts from Charles Spurgeon are helpful in this matter:
are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser
than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone,
waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual
strength for labour in His service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them...Our souls are not nourished merely by listening awhile to this, and then to that, and then to the other part of divine truth. Hearing, reading, marking, and learning, all require inwardly digesting to complete their usefulness, and the inward digesting of the truth lies for the most part in meditating upon it. Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God's Word."
Not only do I hope that as Christ-followers we find great delight in
God's word, but that (in the same way as the Bereans) you are receiving the word with great eagerness at our various trainings and are committed
to examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things are so
(Acts. 17:11). Please test what we are saying against the Scriptures! To not do so would be dangerous for you and treacherous for us!
Prayer - Not only is essential to invest time in
God's word (both delighting and examining), but also spending time with God in prayer. One passage that is particularly helpful Ps. 139: 23- 24:
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
As you consider applying the principles of transformational giving, I would encourage you to ask God to show you where these ideas already have root inside of the organization. It might be easy to conclude after a workshop that "everything we're doing is wrong...and needs to change." Perhaps that's true, perhaps it's not. Either way, I would encourage you to specifically ask God to show you ways you are in alignment and perhaps out of alignment with His desire for your organization.
Framing Expectations - It's been said that frustration is born-out on the wings of unmet expectations. I've seen more than a few ministries a bit frustrated (which can be the sign of a good thing) as they work to implement these principles into their development program. Change takes time and can be very challenging. Thus, I think it can be very helpful where it is appropriate to think about the prospect of change more in the way of evolution and not revolution. We didn't arrive at this point overnight, and change will not happen overnight either.
Asking Good Questions - As ministry leaders we're expected to have answers. Well, in order to have answers I think we have to ask the right questions (and be looking in the right place for answers). Here are a few essential questions that we should be asking ourselves and our champions as we seek to more fully understand our cause and as we commit to coaching others to fuller maturity in it.
- What's the Biblical language for our cause (think apologetic)? Or, perhaps you could "Start with Why"?
- What does the Bible command or describe as normative for the Christian relative to the cause?
- What are barriers that Christians face with respect to obeying those commands?
- What does full maturity in Christ look like with relationship to the cause?
My encouragement in the end is to not get hung up in the starting blocks. All too often I think we allow the enemy to stymie our personal and organizational growth by confusing us into inactivity. The race has already started and many are well down the track implementing the TG principles. No doubt, they may stumble or get tripped up along the way, but God is faithful and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6)!
So if you're still waiting in the blocks...Bang!
Perhaps a good first step is to get some time away reading the Word or in prayer about your cause, or perhaps it's time to set up a coaching call with your local GTO.