Breakfast Church at Sanctuary is always fun, and this past month (Sunday, June 24) was no exception. The conversation centered on the Goliath and David story as it plays out in 21st century evangelism, which, of necessity, must be radically different from traditional evangelism.
The clarion call of the Leadership Circle has been, “Sustainability!” from the moment I was contracted to assist Sanctuary with a new approach to development. Rev. Wendy and I wanted to update everyone as to our progress.
I’ve spent five months researching Boston-based foundation and corporate philanthropic giving. There are also some national religious philanthropies for which Sanctuary may qualify. As of this writing, I have a curated list of 49 organizations that might be a fiscal fit for Sanctuary’s ministries and programs. This is many more than I expected to find!
There are two significant barriers to Sanctuary’s success in philanthropic circles. The first is that Sanctuary has what philanthropists would consider an “endowment”: that we have money in the bank. The second is that Sanctuary is a faith-based organization. Many giving institutions have a flat-out caveat: NO religious organizations.
The reason is because of the reputation of traditional evangelism.
We must frame our applications for funding to reflect that Sanctuary is an organization dedicated to community service which was founded by faith-based people. We will need to use standard language that denies discrimination on any basis whatsoever, or that our objective is to recruit members in any way. This is, of course, the truth about Sanctuary, but it will be difficult to convince funders if they presuppose otherwise.
In the story of Goliath and David, Goliath is a warrior’s warrior—massive, armored, ready to take on any comers. David is a shepherd boy with little gear or weaponry. When none of the warriors steps up to meet Goliath, David says he will. Saul, naturally, equips the boy with armor. Ultimately, David removes it, and says that he’ll use his own simple tools, because thanks…they’re good enough.
This is the secret to 21st century evangelism, and one of the discussions we shared at Breakfast Church.
Simple caring. For self. For neighbor. Caring because we share values, the primary one of which is love which becomes evident through acts of caring.
We talked on Sunday about what’s in the way of evangelism today. There were several reasons, most of them having to do with distaste for pushing anyone into anything. We all agreed that this was an inappropriate and uncomfortable way to reach out to others.
But what if caring is the key to it all? What if each one of us decided that some program or event of Sanctuary’s was one we cared about enough to invite one other person? Because WE care, we can connect that with someone else who we feel might agree to participate as well.
Let’s use our last Art Gallery reception (Friday, June 22) as an example: Gay Cox’s artwork is displayed in The Gallery at Sanctuary. Friday was the Artist’s Reception. Gay talked with us about her process, what her goals were, what mattered to her in the creation of her Psalm series, and that – amazingly – she has every intention of continuing this work until she has painted all 150 Psalms! I love art, and I especially love hearing artists talk about their work. The Artist’s Reception was a perfect event to which I could have invited someone else whom I thought might care about what I care about: in this case, beautiful art and the opportunity to hear an interesting artist discuss her process and her work.
This is the message of shepherd David and his removal of Saul’s armour. NO. He said No – I don’t need anything external or artificial to win this battle. I am enough just the way God made me. What God gave me is enough.
So, Sanctuary, as your development consultant, I can promise you that another branch of sustainability is a new evangelism—based upon invitation, not conversion. This is the way Sanctuary can be shared toward becoming sustainable in perpetuity.
Would you make a commitment in your heart (and with your hands and your mouth!) to invite one new person to a Sanctuary program that you care about, just once? I expect you’ll enjoy the inspiration and good energy it brings such that it’ll soon turn into once a month!
That way, whilst I’m writing grant language, and working with Sheri to create a Master Grant and Fundraising Calendar, you’ll each focus on #CareItForward and play an incredible role in not only sustaining Sanctuary, but in sharing Sanctuary’s beauty and ministries with our beloved community.
Until next time, A Blessing Upon You!