Increase Your December Income--Dramatically!

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How? Get on the phone!

End-of-year giving decisions are made from December 10-31 in America. In other countries start-of-year financial plans are under consideration. What better time for your giving partners to keep you “top of mind” than now—at the end of one year and the beginning of another!

Organize your phone calls like this—every call need not be an appeal:

  • Say thank you! And catch up on their news. Listen well!
  • Re-connect. “Are you still alive! It’s been a long time since we’ve talked.”
  • Set an appointment! To make an appeal or say thank you in person.
  • Make an appeal. Especially if they received your end-of-year or start-of-year appeal letter. “Did you get my letter? May I explain about our finances?”

At first, I first resisted December phoning—it’s hard work and people are busy! Sure, many do not pick up the phone, but I leave a message expressing appreciation. If I had hoped to make an appeal, I promise to phone back. “It is important that I talk with you about my ministry support.”

Last December I phoned 90+ friends on my mailing list—some I didn’t know well. I only connected with 25 but another 25 called me back. I had a different purpose for each call using the bullet outline above. Some calls were short, but some lasted 10-20-30 minutes—with me listening 90% of the time.

Listening! Last year one non-donor friend told me that she and her husband had been visited by a long-time Gospel-worker friend the previous year. She said, “He didn’t ask one question about our family or jobs. He talked non-stop for two hours about his ministry.” Ouch!

I also try to pray briefly with each person. I say, “As we end our visit, would it be okay if I had a brief prayer for you?” Be brief.

Will December phoning pay off financially? Yes. I just now counted 11 people who either increased monthly support or gave extra gifts based on December phone calls. And one non-donor started without being asked. He told me how grateful he was that I “took time to phone him just to visit.”

Okay, you can do this! December phoning keeps you “top of mind” as your giving partners make financial decisions. And, they always appreciate a listening friend.

Merry Christmas!

The Fatal Flaw in Spiritual Leaders

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him.
— Luke 16:14

It was not Jesus who said the Pharisees were lovers of money. It was a parenthetical comment by Luke, who was stating what everyone already knew!

Jesus had just finished teaching the parable of the unjust steward with the words “You cannot serve God and wealth (16:13). And the Pharisees ‘were scoffing at Him’—literally ‘to turn up the nose.’ Theologian Frank L. Cox wrote, "No one scoffs at a scriptural lesson on giving but the lover of money."

Lest we be too critical, starting in 597 BC with the Jewish exile to Babylon, it was the Pharisees who stood up for the Torah (law of Moses) while Israel was overrun in turn by Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and finally Romans.

They painstakingly taught that Moses was to be literally obeyed. Where the Torah was vague, they created 640 additional laws for clarity. In addition to teaching, they presided as judges in legal issues. And, they were givers! Luke 11:42 says they tithed even the smallest garden plants.

But despite their zeal for the Bible and their meticulousness in giving, the 6000 Pharisees of Jesus’ day became lovers of money. Jesus said they “devoured widows’ houses” (Matthew 23:14).

This is a stiff reminder for mission-workers. Just as the serious Bible teachers of Jesus’ day drifted toward loving money, so can we—the serious Bible teachers of our day. When a person is called to ministry leadership, he or she is not suddenly immunized from the temptation for money.

The problem is not wealth but the desire for wealth. The Apostle Paul said, “Those who want to be rich fall into temptation and a snare…which plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9). Paul is not writing to greedy pagans but to greedy Christians! You don’t have to be rich to be money-hungry.

Perhaps love of money is actually love of power. Money can surround you with shiny electronic gadgets, fly you first class and take you to expensive restaurants. And it seems to prove to family and peers that you have ‘made it.’

A wealthy businessman in Abuja, Nigeria was known for his generosity. He invited Christian ministries to use his modest home for meetings, and he provided their meals. When asked why he was so generous his replied, “If God owns me, He owns my pockets.”

Takeaway:

  • Does wanting to be up to budget’ mean you are a lover of money?
  • Martin Luther said there are three conversions—the head, heart and wallet. Has your wallet been converted?

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, owner of all, I confess that at times I am hungry for the things money can buy. Help me to see money for what it is—a medium of exchange and not the measure of my worth or success. May the phrase lover of money not become my reputation. Amen.

Straight Line or Circle?

Written By Myles Wilson

 

I spent a week recently with a mission organization in South Africa whose staff come from backgrounds ranging from economically deprived to comfortable middle class.  They wanted to explore examples in scripture where people were supported in God’s Kingdom work so that they could build funding models consistent with these principles.

One question that came up with was Should we use a straight line or a circle?

Traditional MPD, we realized, is often quite linear.

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We start at stage two (resourcing) asking people to support us, hoping that they already have generous hearts.  We then use their resources to be involved in proclamation.   Sometimes we need to start at point one, encouraging generosity so they will give.  But our preference is meeting with people who are already generous - makes it easier!

The New Testament seems to offer a more cyclical model.

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It starts with proclamation which creates generosity among those who respond, leading to resourcing, leading to more proclamation, creating more generosity............., etc, etc, etc.

We see this with the women whose lives were impacted by Jesus and who then supported Jesus and the disciples (Luke 8:1-3); the early church where the result of proclamation is described in terms of generosity among those who believed (Acts 4:33-34); the church in Philippi planted by Paul who immediately became his supporter (Philippians 4:15); Paul’s criticism of the church in Corinth for not following the expected pattern due to their lack of generosity (1 Corinthians 9; 2 Corinthians 8+9).

This leaves us with two crucial questions.

  1. What is missing in our proclamation of the gospel if it doesn't automatically create generosity in the hearts of those who respond?  John the Baptist’s measures of repentance were primarily related to stewardship and generosity - giving to those in need, being honest in business and not being materialistic (Luke 3:1-14).  Those are not measures we normally use to determine if repentance has taken place, so what's missing?  I’ll leave it to others more qualified than me to offer answers to this – but it does need answered.
  2. How can we move from a linear MPD model to a more cyclical model if we can't start the proclamation until we have 100% of the resourcing in place?   What steps can we take to bend the straight line into more of a circle?

Here I’d like to offer three part answers:

a)  We need to see our request for support as proclamation in itself.  If those we are asking to support us have accepted a message of salvation that has not automatically created generosity in their lives, then their gospel (but not their salvation) is incomplete.  Asking them to make decisions that help develop generosity is, in itself, proclamation of that unfinished part of the gospel in their lives. 

b)  We need to encourage those involved in gospel proclamation to understand that the gospel is a message of generosity (John 3: 16, God GAVE) and not just of salvation.  We talk of inviting Jesus into our lives, but actually Jesus invites us into his life - and that is a life of generosity. Perhaps we need a higher focus on the important over the urgent in our proclamation, taking time to build a more complete biblical quality into our message, not just pressing for quantity. 

c)  We should offer those who come to faith through our ministries, and those we are disciplining, opportunities to be generous, including, where appropriate, opportunities to support us.

With our 21st century mission patterns so set we may never get back to the patterns of the New Testament.  But let’s see how much we can bend the straight line back into a circle.

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MYLES WILSON HELPS MISSION ORGANIZATIONS ACROSS THE GLOBE DEVELOP PERSONAL SUPPORT PROGRAMS THAT ARE BIBLICAL AND PRACTICAL. HE AND HIS WIFE PHYLLIS LIVE IN THEIR NATIVE NORTHERN IRELAND. 

MYLES IS THE AUTHOR OF FUNDING THE FAMILY BUSINESS, AVAILABLE IN THE U.S. AT WWW.TWR.ORG/FTFB

Why is the widow even in the story?

Guest Blog written by Myles Wilson

They asked if I’d help them explore examples in scripture where people were supported to be involved in God’s Kingdom work.

As we looked at 1 Kings 17, where God used ravens to provide for Elijah and then used the widow in Zarephath, one of the guys asked, What’s the widow got to do with it?  Why is she even in the story?

Good question! 

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