How is fund-raising affected by people who live productive lives?
Titus 3:4 "Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives."
The Apostle Paul gave this counsel to Titus a young pastor he had put in charge of a small group of new converts. The advice he gave was simple, teach the people to devote themselves to doing what is good - why? - in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives. (Or instead of a double negative we could say that they should live productive lives.
I grew up in a family, community and culture where children were taught to be useful and productive in the daily necessities of the house and farm. I learned to do dishes, scrub floors, babysit young siblings and hack weeds in the garden with a hoe from early on. I cannot even remember the first time I did such things. I didn't realize that I was trained to live a productive life.
My mother was sickly, especially after gored by a cow, so I, as the eldest child had responsibility thrust on me before I was fully ready and willing. The family still had to be fed and the laundry washed and ironed; I confess I didn't always do these things gladly, but I was often told, "You are too big to put in the china cabinet, so make yourself useful."
When I finally moved away to a far place and found a new Christian/church community, I was surprised to discover that other families did not teach their children all these practical skills. In childrens ministry and among adults I found many who had never had to do a stitch of work at home. They had grown up being served or allowed to do as they pleased. it was then that I truly began to appreciate my upbringing.
I tried to do my part in teaching pre-teen girls the value of work and to cheerfully live productive lives, but it wasn't as effective as when it is taught in the home from preschool days.
I see the wisdom of Paul's advice to Titus, but just now my mind is stuck on the problem a pastor would have in teaching a whole congregation to provide for their own and their family's daily necessities, and to live productive lives.
The very connected next step is - that if they live productive lives they will not only provide for those immediately with and around them, but also have enough to share with others in desperate need.
I happen to know that among those raised as I was in our industrious, hard-working community, many - yes, MANY, have grown up to prosper quite well, and those who have a strong daily walk with Christ are heavy supporters of missions.
In Waldheim about 40 minutes drive from my home town, every summer for about 60 years, the churches go together to have a missions conference. Missionaries who have grown up in that area are given a platform to share about their work abroad, and that 3 day conference raises anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 (and often more each succeeding year), to contribute to their projects. Nowadays most of the people who attend are retired Christian farmers. Some worry about what will happen if the next generation doesn't have the same work ethic.
Guest speakers who come from other parts of the world are astonished at this. It is very uncommon to see both missionaries and supporters live productive lives.
Back to our theme for this series of articles; how could this principle, "Live Productive Lives," help a church or ministry raise support for their work?
Here are my suggestions:
1. Learn to model this lifestyle yourself. if you don't have such upbringing, walk with the Lord, and ask Him to teach you where you can be more productive in little ways. As others around you see you doing this, some will imitate you, and some will be willing to learn, if you teach them what you've discovered.
2. When you are looking for people to work in your ministry, search especially for those who have the humility to do the little things that make life smoother and more productive for everyone. They are the people who tidy up around themselves, who do dishes or other little chores without being coaxed, and very often they have creative minds for how to do ministry more effectively too.
3. Research and study up on ways to live more practical and productive lives. Then use every opportunity to teach and share this with others. Over time you will teach the willing ones to take up these ways and your ministry will be blessed with provisions and growth.
4. When campaigning for financial support, seek out the godly people who live humble, productive lives. They will not go for flashy, show-off presentations, but if you focus on God's call to your work, and can report His activities in your ministry; that is going to appeal to these hard-working people who understand the value of a dollar, and who like to help the Lord out when they find He is at work somewhere.
Let me know your thoughts and questions on giving in response to these articles.
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