Generosity. My post today at The Gospel Coalition.
The Gospel Fund is a brand-new platform that enables Christian missionaries, church planters, non-profits, churches, and individuals to raise money for global mission ventures.
I am incredibly excited about it. My friend Brannon McAllister is one of the co-founders, and he’s kept me in the loop as they’ve been developing the platform. Brannon also co-founded Noise Trade and was a key part of its growth. He understands the web, and is one of the best I’ve worked with.
Gospel-Centered Innovation, Better than Kickstarter
The Gospel Fund is the type of thing I’ve been wanting to see for a long time. It’s like Kickstarter, but for gospel-centered projects — and without the typical poor implementation and graphic design that we often see in ventures like this that are designed for the Christian world.
The Gospel Fund is on the same par in terms of professionally, functionality, design, and execution as Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and similar major sites that don’t have thegospel-centered focus.
I believe this can and will change the future of missions fundraising, and therefore missions itself. It is that important.
Get to Know the Site!
I highly suggest getting to know the site and using it! Read the about page, browse some of the projects, and if you have a project you are needing to raise funds for, consider doing it on The Gospel Fund.
Consider Giving Financially to Help Finish the Build
Beyond that, the main action right now is to consider giving to help finish the building of the site. The front end is done and the site is working. But there is back-end work that needs to be finished so that they can launch well. They are raising $70,000 so they can finish the work.
It is well, well worth giving to. I highly suggest checking it out, and if you can, giving a donation. I don’t say that lightly. This is a fantastic project that is worthy of whatever you can do to help it come to completion and launch well.
There is a growing emphasis on church membership right now and “being under the authority of the local church.”
This can seem laudable in many ways, but there is a very important emphasis which often seems to be missing when people talk about this. Without this emphasis, people will inevitably misunderstand.
The missing emphasis is that of the freedom of the Christian and the ultimate authority of the Scriptures. This is well summarized even in the Church of England’s Articles of Religion, giving an excellent summary of the united position coming out of the Reformation on this matter:
Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation: so that whatever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”
This is why I am uncomfortable with people speaking of “being under the authority of the local church.” There is a sense in which that can be understood properly. But I’m not sure most people who speak this way are doing that. It too easily sounds like the local church has complete authority over the person, almost like a medieval monarchy. That is simply not the case.
In order to understand church authority properly, it needs to be understood that the authority of the local church is a limited authority. That is, no church, no elder, no pastor, nor any other church officer can require a person to believe or do something that is not taught explicitly in the Scriptures, or deduced from them with good and necessary consequence. Which means no local church has complete authority over a person.
This is an extremely important matter, which is why I avoid ever using the phrase “under the authority of the local church.” We are under the authority of the Scriptures. This does not mean the local church has no authority; rather, it means they only have the authority to require what the Scriptures themselves require. In all other matters, the Christian is free and responsible to choose his or her own course of action.
Some people say “well isn’t that risky?” Which of course is how people’s freedom is always taken away. To deny spiritual freedom in the name of “well, you can’t handle freedom” is not only the road to tyranny; it is tyranny.
Beyond that, it is to go against what God himself has declared. God wants his people free and has made them free. I believe one reason for this is that this is the greatest stimulus to spiritual growth. You cannot truly take ownership of your faith, and thus grow, if you think you are ultimately dependent on any other person or institution — including your local church. The local church is to assist in growth, not take control of the person.
It is not healthy to see ourselves only in terms of submission. We are also leaders — leaders of our own lives.
To fail to emphasize this and keep it clear is to muddle the sufficiency of Scripture, the authority of the Scripture, and the God-given freedom of the Christian.
I would encourage anyone who is going down the road of this renewed emphasis on church authority to study carefully those doctrines first. A good place to start might John Stott’s chapter “Authority: Tradition or Scripture?” in Christ in Conflict.
A Special Message from Matt Perman
My mission in life is to build up Christians in the faith so they might point people to Christ, transform their communities, and do all the good they can to the glory of God.
The chief way I aim to do this is through public theology––leveraging the writing, teaching, and organizational gifts God’s given me through various media, speaking, and consulting opportunities. For 13 years this was expressed in different roles at Desiring God, including leading the web department, serving as director of strategy, and helping build the ministry for greater spreading.
Over the past few years, my two biggest projects have been publishing What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done and creating content for WhatsBestNext.com, a resource site focused on applying theology to leadership, management, and the world of work. I have also been doing a lot of speaking at churches, conferences, non-profits, and businesses.
Your Help: Why and Why Now?
With the humbling success of What’s Best Next and the passionate feedback I receive, one thing has become increasingly and compellingly clear: there is a deep hunger for more training in these areas––especially in the realms of gospel-empowered productivity and management.
Many Christians today are hungry to do work that matters, but they’re simply overwhelmed. They want to honor God and serve people in their work, but aren’t always sure how to do that with less friction and frustration.
I believe What’s Best Next has a role to play in meeting this need, but I keep hitting two major roadblocks:
- I can’t expand these ministry initiatives on my own
- Living expenses and family commitments prevent significant financial investment
In order to dedicate my full-time attention in this next season, I need help from a team of generous catalysts. I created this GoFundMe campaign to ask if you’d consider a gift of support to make the following strategic projects possible.
What Your Support Will Accomplish
Your generous support will enable the following:
- Producing an online training course in Gospel-Driven Productivity (GDP)
- Creating a much-requested book on GDP (more accessible than What’s Best Next)
- Editing, organization, and making available over 600 unpublished articles on theology, leadership, management, and the world of work––all from a gospel-centered perspective. These will be free on WhatsBestNext.com
- Start-up funds for building a WBN team
What Supporters Will Receive
If you’re able to support these efforts, I want to say thank-you in the following ways:
- For gifts over $25, you will receive a free digital copy of the GDP book (when finished)
- For gifts over $100, the book and free access to the online course (when finished, estimated $250 value).
- For gifts over $500, the book, the course, and a free coaching session in the realm of personal leadership and personal management that customizes GDP for you.
Thank you for your prayerful consideration of this opportunity. I am deeply appreciative of your support.
In Christ our Savior,
This is well said by Phillip Johnson, in his foreword to Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth:
Every one of us has a worldview, and our worldview governs our thinking even when — or especially when — we are unaware of it.
Thus, it is not uncommon to find well-meaning evildoers, as it were, who are quite sincerely convinced that they are Christians, and attend church faithfully, and may even hold a position of leadership, but who have absorbed a worldview that makes it easy for them to ignore their Christian principles when it comes time to do the practical business of daily living.
Their sincerely held Christian principles are in one category for them, and practical decision making is in another. Such persons can believe that Jesus is coming again to judge the world and yet live as if the standards of this world are the only thing that needs to be taken into account.
That’s a very profound statement. It is worth re-reading and reflecting on.
I remember experiencing this dichotomy in my own life. My senior year in college, I had an internship as a claims adjuster at a large insurance company. One of the things we were taught was that the popular dictum “the customer is always right” would bankrupt the company.
The reason is that customers often had an inadequate conception of their insurance policies, thinking that certain things would be covered when they are in fact not. If we granted the wishes of the customer in each of those cases, we would be paying far beyond what the policies were designed to cover, which would indeed spell disaster for the company.
In this case, of course, the reasoning is correct. The policy rates were set on the basis of the limitations on the policy spelled out in the contract, and to go against those would be to over extend the capacity of the company to pay the claims. I don’t think there is anything unbiblical about sticking to agreed upon characteristics of the insurance policy, especially since the customers are able to read and agree to the policy with full knowledge and consent when they sign on.
The problem, though, was that this could easily have an unwelcome side effect. Even though the company did not advocate doing so, nonetheless this reality could easily create an adversarial mindset toward the customers of the insurance company. You could go in expecting them to disagree, and your mission was to make sure not to give in. Your task could easily become not seeking to maximally serve the customer within the constraints imposed by the policy, but standing your ground against the customer. And justifying that by saying “this is what the policy states. You just have to deal with it.”
That would be an example of following the standards the world often follows — and thinking you are justified in doing so because, of course, you really can’t pay out for things the policy does not cover. Right?
The problem here is not with upholding the policy. The biblical answer here would not be to go against the agreed upon characteristics of the insurance policies. The problem is with what is being left out — namely, humanity.
The biblical answer here was not to go against the policies, but to remember compassion and understanding. As claims adjusters we might not be able to give the customers what they really wanted in certain cases, but we could always accompany that with saying “I understand this is frustrating. I am sorry about this. And perhaps the conception of this policy is not as helpful as it should be, and we will need to look into that. But this is the policy that was agreed on, and this is what we have to stick to.”
That is a very different approach than just giving people the cold hard facts and saying “deal with it.” It seems so obvious. This is a way of treating the customer with dignity and respect, even when they are not “right” and cannot have their way.
Yet, that that is the type of thing you don’t always see. Perhaps some people think that showing understanding opens them to liability or risk. To acknowledge the person’s frustration, they think, is perhaps to acknowledge that the policy is indeed bad, thus opening them to a lawsuit.
But fear of risk is never a good reason to fail to take the actions that are necessary for affirming a person’s dignity. People’s concerns need to be validated. Even if the company is technically “right,” as was the case most of the time in these situations, it is never right to toss that out as a cold hard fact that a person just has to “deal with.”
This is just one small example of how Christian principles can be set aside in the name of seemingly doing “the right thing” according to a certain (even legitimate) set of standards, and how a Christian view can come in and provide what is missing so that people are always treated the way they ought to be treated.
There are lots of other examples that are more extreme and more significant. Regardless of the situation you are in, always remember to ask not only “what are the typical practices for handling this situation in my industry” but also “what does God have to say about this type of thing, and how does that apply to me as well?”