Apr 15, 2010
I always learn a lot when I travel. I read different things, meet different people. This last week I was in North Carolina for MIF’s first training event there. During my travel, I had three key thoughts about Transformational Giving. Here they are:
I spent the majority of the past Sunday on airplanes to North Carolina so I decided to have church on my I-pod. I listened to a fabulous sermon given by Mike Erie, who pastors at Rock Harbor and occasionally visits my home church. Click here to listen to the podcast from March 21st. He looked at two parables in Luke and asked provocative questions about our possible attitudes of entitlement.
When we translate these questions to apply to nonprofits, we have our own set of provocative questions. Peel back the layers of your personal onion and ask, “Do I think that God owes my ministry financial blessing because of the good work we do? Do I think my champions owe my ministry their giving because we do such compelling kingdom work on their behalf?” I imagine and hope that this sermon might assist you in rethinking the issue of who owes whom. Might it be that you owe God a debt of gratitude for calling you to this work in the first place? Might it be that you owe your champions meaningful opportunities to grow to full maturity in your shared cause? The challenge is that providing meaningful growth opportunities requires much more effort than sending a standard receipt letter or having a jog-a-thon once a year. For more on thanking and receipting —TG style— and the broader topic of meaningful growth opportunities, attend our May workshops. You can register here.
On Monday while in North Carolina for our new Raleigh office’s first training event, I spoke with an astute woman about the issue of cause. During our seminar on Transformational Giving, ministries are often surprised and challenged to hear us say that their organization is not their cause. Indeed, your cause is something only found in the Scripture (and, interestingly, nonprofit organizations aren’t mentioned even once in the Scripture). Feeding the poor, caring for the sick, and saving lives are just a few of the causes we find in Scripture. A large part of the paradigm shift required to practice TG is dependent on accurately discerning your cause and appropriately understanding how God calls you and your organization to impact that cause. The astute woman I referred to was struggling because she knows her cause is to minister to the poor in her neighborhood. But, here’s where she struggles. She has churches outside her neighborhood wanting to come over and help. How can that be a bad thing? She was appropriately sensing the tension there…that the parallel to her commitment to her neighborhood was for others to be ministering to the needy in THEIR neighborhoods. Ah…subtle but monumental. For a great read on understanding and impacting a specific cause, try Stones into Schools. You can read a great review here. While I’ll qualify my recommendation by saying that Greg Mortensen doesn’t demonstrate an intentional application of TG, he does get his cause. Stones into Schools is the follow up to the well known Three Cups of Tea and chronicles his organization’s efforts to build schools (primarily for girls) in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Make a Switch
On the way home from North Carolina, I read a large part of Switch, the Heath brothers’ (the authors of Made to Stick) new book. Switch is an examination of how to foster and motivate change. One of their assertions is that change is stunted when we attempt to solve big, even monumental or systemic problems with equally monumental solutions. Instead, they contend that often the simplest change or solution is the most effective. That’s why MIF has recently begun to offer one-on-one coaching calls to ministries who attend our workshops. In these one-hour calls, our Giving and Training officers will help you discern the next simple step you can take towards implementing TG in your ministry, something that can sometimes feel like a monumental task. But, the first step towards implementing TG might very well be spending an hour with your GTO discussing what meaningful steps you can provide your champions, or searching the Scriptures with your GTO to discern the Biblical nature of your cause. I hope you'll make a coaching appointmet with your GTO today.