By: Kathrin Veenstra, Fundraising Coordinator for Diaconal Ministries
I don’t know about you, but I am inundated with opportunities to give: giving of my time, my energy, my resources. Scrolling through my social media on any given day or checking my inbox, there would be at least three or four organizations that are worthy of my time and support every single day!
If you are part of a church, you are likely exposed to even more worthy causes – both within your denomination and your local community. Quite honestly, it can take the joy out of giving! When I began my role as Fundraising Coordinator last fall, one of the challenges that I faced was aligning Diaconal Ministries Canada with a large host of giving opportunities out there in the world.
There is more to the “giving” story than simply giving resources, aka money.
Diaconal Ministries aims to equip and support deacons in the Christian Reformed church in Canada as they animate their congregations to love and serve one another, their local community, and the world. One of the key ways we do this is through our NewGround program (formerly known as Operation Manna). Each year, NewGround aims to raise over $100,000 so that we can provide grants and coaching to churches who want to get to know their local community, start or grow a community ministry, or work alongside their youth in pursuing justice.
But how can NewGround stand out in a world where everyone’s cause is a good cause and worthy of your support?
In contributing my first blog post to Diaconal Ministries, knowing the overwhelming need out there gave me writer’s block. Naturally, I have a heart for NewGround and the communities it blesses. I have been so impressed with the successes of our various partners and how they are helping communities flourish all across the country. So… I could go the traditional route and list the “Three Key Reasons Why Giving to Diaconal Ministries’ NewGround Program Makes An Impact!” Like how NewGround has been impacting communities for over 35 years across Canada and has helped over 140 churches love their community. Or, I could share about where these organizations and churches are today and how over 80% of their ministries are still going strong, growing deep roots into their community. But is that enough? The blog would read like all the other organizations and deep down I knew that there was more to share.
There is more to the “giving” story than simply giving resources, aka money. Discerning donors to Diaconal Ministries’ and its programs want to know that their donations are being used stewardly and that our mission to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God” is at the forefront of all our ministries. They need to know the ‘why’.
In many of our communications, you will find us sharing NewGround stories, stories of what deacons and church members are doing in their community, and a wealth of resources to help your church on this journey. But this is more than just sharing the ‘how’. We do this to share joy; the joy of helping, the joy of seeing others grow and succeed, and the joy of sharing God’s love in purposeful and effective ways. It is what we have been called to do.
The Wealth of Giving
Recently, I have been enjoying and studying some of the writings of John Piper. If you aren’t familiar with John Piper, he is a reformed preacher, baptist theologian, and author and founder of Desiring God Ministries. His straight-shooting, heartfelt writings led me to reading more about the “wealth of giving”.
Upon first reading, the term “wealth of giving” seems to be a contradiction. For the most part, I think it is fair to say that the current secular world would not define wealth as giving.
But as Piper points out, the wealth that God’s economy produces is “enriched in every way to be generous in every way” (2 Corinthians 9:11), while the latter (the world’s economy) threatens to pierce us with “many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:10) and even to steal our soul (Matthew 16:26).
Piper goes on to say, “To those who wish to become truly rich, the Bible offers this astounding promise: God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
While Piper does not outline how to determine the best cause to give to, he does, in essence, help define why we give and the Biblical definition of wealth. It is always a good thing to be reminded of how we are called to share our wealth with others and the communities that we live in. It is so easy to lose sight of the Biblical definitions and to store up the wealth that the world has deemed important. It’s about moving from a scarcity mentality (‘there’s never enough!’) to an outlook of abundance (‘we have more than enough and God will supply our every need!’)
In a practical sense, the cold hard fact is that Diaconal Ministries Canada, like all charities and not-for-profit organizations, needs funds to be able to survive and mobilize volunteers (deacons) to serve their communities. That is the reality that all charities, including your church, live in. We are regularly asking our donors (and potential) donors to share the wealth that God has blessed them with so that we can continue to do this. It is our sincere intention to serve joyfully and to ask, KNOWING that you will be filled with joy in supporting initiatives that equip and support your church’s deacons, which ultimately supports your church, your local community, and beyond. When you give to Diaconal Ministries, you help deacons live out their mandate, which includes “to teach [deacons to teach their congregations] to be merciful and to seize new opportunities to worship God with offerings of wealth, time, and ability”. (Deacon’s Mandate, 2016)
We support deacons so that they can support you as you live into your calling as Christ’s follower.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers in deciphering how each person ought to manage their volunteer time and financial giving, but I do have the certainty that if we seek God’s will through prayer and the reading of His word, our efforts will be blessed to glorify Him in all that we do. As the writer of Ecclesiastes wisely states there is a time and place for everything. Prayerfully considering how we use our talents, time, and treasures, and care for God’s creation (trees) is something that we are called to do joyfully.
As donors (and potential donors) of time and treasures, please take the time to prayerfully consider how you can support NewGround this year. This year, NewGround Sunday was designated as May 7th and our spring campaign is wrapping up soon. THERE IS STILL TIME TO GIVE!
Watch this year’s campaign video…