By Alec Hill, Jim Lundgren & Barney Ford

Alec Hill: The Financial Crisis

A mutual acquaintance and business leader reads his Bible and the Wall Street Journal every morning. Explaining this practice, he says, “I read the Journal to find out what is happening in the world and the Bible to know how to live in the world.” This is a wise person.

Today, it isn’t necessary to read the Wall Street Journal to hear about the financial turmoil in our country and around the globe. Thankfully, Scripture teaches us how to live in such a world. Here are some highlights.

The Psalmist writes: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1). He is the owner of all things, and each of us has the privilege to live as a steward. We are to put our hope and trust in the Creator of the universe, not in anything else — certainly not in the condition of the financial markets. Jesus says, “Do not worry . . . seek first the kingdom of God . . .” (Matt 6:25-33).

In the Book of Philippians, Paul declares his joy in receiving financial help from the church; about learning to live with lots of money and with little money; and about learning to find contentment “in Christ” (4:10-13). We are encouraged to abide in Jesus, receiving and responding to the love of God in a way that calls us to worship and service. May we be able join Paul in saying, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (2:21). In the midst of the current confusion, we are to stay focused on God’s mission (2:25).

Care for Our Ministry Partners
Imitating Paul vis-à-vis his supporters, we should stay in close touch with those who pray for and contribute financially to our ministry. In shaky times, they may wonder about God’s sovereignty and be blessed by accounts of what the Lord is doing on campus and in our lives. They need to hear from us even more in times like this.

The Book of Philippians is, at least in part, a thank you letter to supporters. Just as Paul thrilled the church at Philippi with accounts of the Gospel advancing among the emperor’s palace guard, so too we should keep our ministry partners informed, excited, and blessed.

As some of our ministry partners go through personal hard times, they will need our personal encouragement. As we become aware that they are hurting, we should encourage them, just as Paul encouraged the church at Philippi. He even considered sending two of his best leaders — Timothy and Epaphroditus – to serve them.

The following two articles by Donna Wilson present biblical responses to your questions about fundraising during times of national financial distress: “Weathering the Financial Storm—fundraising when Wall Street goes nuts” and “Recession-Proofing your Fundraising”. We can remain encouraged when we remember that our calling is to be faithful in our ministry. Success—that’s God’s responsibility.

Finally, we must also remember that our heavenly citizenship anchors us to the Lord even while others live in fear (Phil. 3:17-21). It is vital that we maintain a biblical perspective on today’s events, developing an understanding beyond the headlines.

Financial Overview
While we can’t foresee the future, we are encouraged by the fact that Field Giving was up 2.2% for the months of July, August, and September 2008, when compared to the same period in 2007.

Here are some interesting facts that may also provide some perspective. Over the past 50 years*:
• Charitable giving has increased every year, except one (1987)
• Giving has increased an average of 7.6% per year
• Giving has increased in every recession between 2 – 13%

New Student Orientation – conducted on campuses across the nation in August and September — is now a memory for our campus staff. Chapter planting, chapter building and evangelism are in full swing. Many are engaged in fall conferences. Life is full.

Now is the time to make sure you have set aside time to connect and communicate with your ministry partners. We will be doing the same.

Thank you for the joy of partnership in the Gospel with you. It is an honor.

*Source: Giving USA Foundation™ / Giving USA 2002