on the spiritual work of fund-raising

did you know that henri nouwen (of all people!) wrote an entire booklet titled the Spirituality of Fundraising?! even after skimming it through and making note of his very good points, i dread actually doing it. it’s one of those things that can so quickly tie me up in knots of self-doubt and send me into a downward spiral of questioning the worth of the work that our family gives itself to. 

somehow, knowing that our paycheck comes from other members of the family of God — who have faces and names and financial situations of their own — creates a much higher sense of responsibility and accountability than does getting a paycheck from The Man. it’s been hard for me to live under that. 

but Nouwen invites me — us — to look from another angle. in his viewpoint, fundraising itself is a spiritual activity, not merely an unpleasant task to be endured in order to support the REAL spiritual activity, which is elsewhere. there’s an invitation here, to step into the here-and-now blessings of asking for and receiving funds. and those blessings, he maintains, are for both the one asking and the one giving. 

here may be a place where i need to choose to believe that he is correct, though my gut shrinks away from it. i will choose to believe that when we sit down to tell a brother or sister in Christ the story of the Stockbridge Boiler Room and God’s faithfulness to and through it, during each of its many and varied seasons, that it will be a blessing to him or her. that YOU might leave that conversation feeling renewed, inspired, encouraged, re-energized in your belief, and expanded in your capacity for faith. and that if after hearing you write a check, or a series of checks, that your heart might then be growing in grace, that you might get the sincere delight of feeling the Father’s pleasure over your generosity, that you will stand in more confidence as the part of the body that He has created you to be, and that you will feel more deeply connected to the purposes of God by that participation of sharing what you have worked so hard to earn. and maybe even in that obedience of giving He is beginning to heal something in you at heart level, like bondage to greed, fear or a spirit of poverty, or from a lack of trust. 

to think that so much good could be given through a simple conversation and transaction… well, that’s more than i would have dared to imagine. 

and yet i know it to be true personally. the practice of giving — even and especially when it has felt impractical to do it — has been a spring of life for our family. (so why do i doubt that it will be so for others?)

the fact is that fund-raising is part of the spiritual work that we’ve been given to do in this season. mostly tim is the one carrying the weight of it, and me only by association. yet i am beginning to see how this spiritual discipline has potential to shape me and free me. i want to participate more joyfully and fearlessly than i have up until this point. 

when i sat down to begin this blog post, it was going to be a post that included a presentation of the good story of God’s kingdom work that has led us to this point of seeing the goal before us and knowing that but for the body of Christ contributing their finances and their volunteer hours and their prayers, we would not be able to do it at all. and i was going to supply you with lots of the nitty gritty details about tim’s job, in particular. and then i was going to ask you if you’d like to have the blessing of financially sowing into this task. 

but now i see that this post has become much more about the internal and spiritual processes surrounding fund-raising generally. so i’ll leave it there for now. and perhaps later there will be another post for the rest of it.

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3 thoughts on “on the spiritual work of fund-raising

  1. we live the oddest of parallels in our lives! this is something we have struggled with, and this year J has been led to speak to more and more people about supporting his work in ministry. i’m still learning how to think about it!

    • wow, cassi. seriously true about all the odd parallels in our lives. it’s such a blessing, actually, to walk with you in this virtual way. i hear you about how long it takes to learn how to think rightly about it. here’s a prayer for both of us to really GET it!

  2. i love that little nouwen booklet. i’m excited to hear more about how things are shifting around at sbr and this new fundraising work you all are embarking on. missed you today! how’s hazel feeling?

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