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Theology Matters, Even in Fundraising

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The year was 1988. On their album Rattle and Hum, four musicians from Ireland released a live version of their already iconic song “Bullet the Blue Sky” in which the U2 lead singer Bono dramatically relayed the words “Well, the God I believe in isn’t short of cash, mister.”

Several thousand years before that, Asaph (another accomplished songwriter in his own right) famously penned the lyrics to Psalm 50 in which he speaks the words of the Lord by saying “I have no need of a bull from your stall or of the goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle of a thousand hills.”

Regardless of whether your lyrical preference is Bono or Asaph, both convey the same profound truth—God doesn’t need our cash! 

While the truth is profound, it does seem to fly in the face of the felt experiences of so many of us in Christian ministry.

While God doesn’t need our cash, it seems churches and Christian ministries rarely have enough of it. Asaph makes the proclamation in Scripture. Rock and roll musicians have observed it as obvious. So why is our felt experience so different?  

It’s possible the reason these things feel at odds is that we’ve misunderstood the role cash is supposed to play in our ministry efforts. Specifically, we’ve assumed the primary impact of cash is financial rather than theological. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches about multiple aspects of life and the human heart. Over and over the point he makes is that the patterns and priorities of this world are at odds with the truths of the Kingdom of Heaven. While this world would tell us that our happiness, comfort and security are things we should pursue and even assume to be our rights, Jesus proclaims the counter-cultural ways of the Kingdom of Heaven as he states that blessed are those who mourn or blessed are those who are persecuted. 

With this world doing all it can to distort and twist the truths of the Kingdom of Heaven, it should come as no surprise that this world would seek to distort and twist the role cash plays in our ministry efforts. If this world can distort the role of cash in our ministry efforts, it can distort our understanding of God’s role. Again, the issue is first and foremost theological rather than financial.

As workers in Christian ministry, it is important that we recognize the role cash does and doesn’t play in our ministry effort. 

If we think that cash (or more likely the lack of cash) is the biggest obstacle or hindrance to ministry impact, we’ve fundamentally misunderstood the problems we’re trying to solve.

There is not a single problem we face or are trying to solve that doesn’t have its origins in sin. 

When sin entered the garden of Eden, it broke everything. It broke the relationships we have with nature, each other, self and God.  

When sin entered the picture, we found ourselves having an increasingly extractive relationship with nature.  

When sin entered the picture, elements of strife and conflict entered our relationships with others.  

When sin entered the picture, insecurity and even self-loathing were introduced into the ways we think about ourselves.  

When sin entered the picture, we found ourselves living in defiance to the love of God. 

Thankfully, there is a solution to the problem of sin and all the brokenness it invites. That solution is not multifaceted or matrixed. The singular solution to the problem of sin is the atoning work of Jesus Christ.  

If Christ is not central to every solution we pursue, then all of our ministry efforts are nothing more than palliative care. Without Christ as central we are merely treating the symptoms rather than addressing the root issues of the problem.