Finding fundraising as ministry in Luke’s Gospel

A commentary on the Gospel of Luke wasn’t where I expected to find affirmation of a key essential of fundraising as ministry, specifically the importance of maintaining a holistic perspective on kingdom work. (I often refer to this as the no-compete clause in fundraising as ministry.) But then again, I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, this Gospel is all about a new economy built on justice, cooperation, and concern for the other.

Luke returns again and again to themes of abundance and generosity and justice and shalom. He quotes Jesus telling parable after parable, all pointing to a different way of living wherein competition for power, things, and attention have no place.

holding_back_competitors_11096However, as Luke’s gospel, world history, and everyday experience remind us, rejoicing in the triumphs of others doesn’t come easily to we humans. With so many opportunities these days to strut our own stuff, be that individually or as organizations, looking out for the common good seems a quaint, even dangerous idea.

In contrast, commentator Darrell Bock explains that

Scripture tells us we are all special and that we all have a niche in the body. Competition is something God abhors. Institutions – colleges, theological schools, churches, etc. – should present themselves as servants, as partners with other agencies that also serve God. Some students God calls to study with us, others he will call elsewhere. Humility means essentially faithfully serving God with integrity in ministry. One can pursue excellence without hoping to run others into the ground. Ministries do need serious affirmation, but we must avoid the temptation to shout about our presence. If credit comes, let God and others bring it. If we are doing a solid job of presenting and reflecting truth, let others note it. Trumpets are best left in the hands of angels, not ourselves (NIV Application Commentary on Luke).

Bock’s words mirror what Thom Jeavons and I wrote in Growing Givers Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry about ministry-centered development programs. It’s our observation that staff in such places reflect a confidence that comes from operating within a clearly defined “kingdom niche.” They’re not threatened by other good causes or even similar ministries. These fundraisers are confident that God’s goodness is great enough to encompass the whole of religious activity and that God has no favorite causes.

Along with the evangelist Luke and Christ-followers through the ages, fundraisers who pursue their work as ministry believe with all their hearts that God’s generosity is sufficient to enable all God’s people to do God’s work as it needs to be done now. And because they believe, they live the no-compete clause.

For more on fundraising as ministry, read:

Seeing + believing = more generous giving

Fundraising as ministry begins with a plan

Forget the stuff, give ’em information




  1. Lori Guenther Reesor says:

    I first thought the ‘no-complete’ clause offered biblical support for procrastinating on finishing my thesis. So disappointing to realize that this was just a typo for ‘no-compete’!

    • Thanks for catching the typo, Lori. I could claim it was my way of testing how closely people are reading Generous Matters, but I’m not that clever. It was what you spotted it to be.

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