Redefining How We Raise Resources

It seems that every person involved in raising money for the work of God’s Kingdom is in a continual struggle to measure their impact solely by the number of dollars raised. The source of this struggle stems from two factors: (1) we are incorrectly gauging success based on financial standards, and (2) we are trying to control outcomes that only God can control. No wonder few enjoy raising resources!

The purpose of this article is to introduce a new way of thinking about our work; as sowing rather than merely harvesting or picking “low hanging” fruit. This is a view of our calling and our profession from a fresh perspective rooted in Scripture that transforms lives and celebrates God’s provision in the process.

  • The calling of the sower. In 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, Paul writes, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” Like Paul, those raising money for Kingdom work are sowers, planting seeds of transformation. We must shift our perception of our own vocation from a focus on raising money to fund ministry to a holy calling that invites people who are stewards of gifts and goods to be involved with God in His work.

Sowers understand that all they can do—and must do—is sow faithfully and trust God for the increase. If those of us who are called to raise money for Kingdom work can learn to see ourselves as sowers, as seed planters, then it will leave to God the responsibility for making things grow and re-orient our definition of success.

Manipulative techniques and “closing strategies” will no longer be found among the tools of laborers in God’s Kingdom. Instead, we will be found faith­fully encouraging spiritual growth in the lives of the people we serve.

Sowers sow seeds that encourage Christian generosity because there’s a lot at stake! The love of money is one of God’s chief rivals in the battle for human souls. In the Parable of the Sower in Mark’s Gospel, it is the “deceitfulness of wealth” which renders many “unfruitful” (4:19). Sowers get to free people from being deceived and enslaved by the love of money and the power it promises. Sowers unleash fruitfulness by reminding people that joyous generosity is the discipline that allows believers to escape the bondage to the pursuit of wealth.

This is our calling and it redefines our work.

  • The work of the sower. The pace will be different for each individual, but the work of the sower will likely move through four seasons: a season of preparation (winter), a season of sowing seed (spring), a season for cultivating souls (summer), and a season for reaping the harvest (fall). All four seasons are good and necessary for an abundant harvest.

Preparation is not optional. It starts with you. You must be willing to let God till the soil of your life before you can sow into the lives of others. Seed sown on untilled ground will not have a chance to sprout, it is too easy for birds to come and eat it up. Time must be invested in tilling the soil before we plant seeds. Prayer is critical work you must do in winter since only God can prepare soils to receive seed.

Planting in spring is hard work. Nurturing seedlings also takes tender care. Helping seedlings avoid the dangers of the field such as birds and weeds is also our role. As the seedlings represent souls, our role is to communicate biblical stewardship principles, encourage spiritual growth in a context of grace, and warn people about the dangers of wealth.

Likewise, without careful cultivation in summer, plants produce only a meager harvest. They need the right balance of water and sun in order to thrive. Even so, givers need sowers to support them by engaging in spiritual conversations about money and giving.

Finally, we need laborers interested not in getting glory but eager to do the work of gathering the harvest God has provided, often “thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown” (Mark 4:20). In the days of Jesus, thirty-fold would have been a good harvest. Sixty-fold an incredible one, and a harvest one-hundred times that which was sown would have been a harvest that exceeded what anyone thought could be possible.

Changed hearts. As a sower, understand your calling, embrace your work, and reap a return of spiritual and material blessings beyond imagination. By redefining and realigning priorities to place changed hearts above changed bank balances, we can move beyond the world’s transactional approach to raising money and towards a more biblical, transformational perspective.

God is primarily concerned with who we are, which determines what we do and how we live. We cannot sow if we are not growing. Spiritually stagnated people have empty seed bags. As followers of Christ we must be growing daily so that our seed bags will be full. We all need sowers to help us, and we all need to be sowing in the lives of others. As those entrusted with the calling to raise money for God’s work, we must be faithful sowers of good seed in the lives of our co-workers, our volunteers and our givers. Sowers raise more than resources for Kingdom work; they raise up stewards whose hearts are rich toward God.

How is it with you and the organization you represent? Do you believe that generosity is the result of your work, or God’s work in people? Do you believe that generosity flows from transformed hearts as people are conformed to the image of Christ, who is generous? And do you believe that raising resources is about encouraging spiritual transformation? If you want to learn more about this approach to raising resources, you may enjoy reading The Sower: Redefining the Ministry of Raising Kingdom Resources from ECFAPress.

Dr. R. Scott Rodin is the Managing Principal of OneAccord NFP: scott.rodin@oneaccordpartners.com.
Gary G. Hoag serves ministry leaders as a consultant with Generosity Monk (www.generositymonk.com), providing spiritual and strategic advice for encouraging Christian generosity: gary.hoag@generositymonk.com.


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.

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