Have you considered the benefits of collaborating with others in your giving and is it even biblical to do so?
In A celebration of northern generosity, I nudged us towards the idea of talking about one’s giving practices, and ultimately, collaboration.
I realise this is contrary to our cultural tendency to keep money matters private, so let me make the argument more explicit: talking about personal wealth, one’s vision for it, and one’s practices around giving it away, is biblical.
A Biblical case for collaboration
Zaccheus was not reticent about hosting Jesus out of his lavish wealth, and he was vocal about how he would rectify his greed. The early church believers pooled together their resources, sold private property and gifted the proceeds, and took up offerings to support ministry needs. Nowhere in these stories is there a sense of prescribing privacy or individuality around these acts of generosity. Giving was done publicly and in community.
In conversations around philanthropy, I’ll often hear Matthew 6:3 quoted, where Jesus says, “But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret,” as a reason for why networking and collaboration should be avoided. However, I don’t believe Jesus was promoting privacy and individuality around giving so much as He was challenging our motives. If we look at the verses directly before and after, the command is to be pure in your motives for giving, to not let it be governed by a drive for admiration or power. We are similarly commanded not to be hypocritical in our prayer life. In fact, verse 6 mimics verse 3 in that Jesus says to pray in a private room – essentially, in secret.
Is prayer solely a private thing though? Just as with our generosity, we know there is also a place for collaboration, with our families and friends and in our churches. While we enjoy a private, intimate relationship with God, that by no means precludes a public sharing of resources, gifts and prayer.
Five reasons to collaborate
While we should start with Scripture, here are five more reasons for Christian philanthropists to consider networking and collaborating with each other:
- Community: We were created in and for community, and spiritual fellowship brings encouragement, builds our faith, lifts our eyes, and helps us grow.
- Efficient use of resources: When we collaborate with each other, we share best practices, ideas, and skills, and make useful connections in organic ways.
- Increased impact: There is a multiplication effect when God’s people pool resources together and allocate them strategically and effectively (and a lot of it is immeasurable!).
- Accountability: Bumping up against each other in community is not always comfortable or convenient, but it is vital for keeping our spirits sharp and motives pure.
- Long-term benefit: When we do things together, the results are often stronger and longer lasting because we’re constantly comparing notes and improving our methods.
Depending on who you ask, the UK Church is either thriving or faltering. From whatever perch you’re viewing it, let us not allow room for anyone to be able to say we’re not mobilised, active, generous, dynamic and victorious.
At Stewardship our vision is to see a thriving Kingdom economy where all of God’s people steward resources wisely and generously to advance the Gospel. That’s not a solo sport, and we have witnessed inspiring results from people practising generosity in community. Let’s determine together to resist the pattern of our culture and allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds and inspire more Kingdom-oriented behaviour around money.
Let's work together
If you would like to help me build a supportive network for philanthropists in the North of England, please get in contact.
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