Deeper not Wider
A Christian not-for-profit “is what it is.” CPR-3 is without apology or compromise, a Christian non-profit. Just because an organization is “Christian” does not exempt it from caring for physical needs, nor is it exempt from loving people and other organizations regardless of their beliefs. We need each other. There are great organizations out there. To name a few, The American Red Cross, AmeriCorp, The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, The Boy Scouts, World Vision, Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, Convoy of Hope, Compassion International, CPR-3. Some are big, some are small, some are Christian, some are not. I trust all of them are doing some level of good.
Our intent is not to be better than others. It is not to attack others who do not believe like we do. The goal of each organization is to be who they are and to stay true to its stated mission and values. The goal of each donor should be to know the organization they are giving their time, talent and treasure to so they can be good stewards of their resources.
If an organization chooses to change their values, it should also be understood that the donor may or may not choose to change the organization they choose to steward their resources. You, the donor should serve and give fully believing in the organization of your choice. The choice is yours. The organization must respect your choice. You have many options.
I would hope that any Christian not-for-profit understands that one never wins the opportunity to care for a person’s spiritual need until they first meet the needs of people physically. People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. It is equally true that we must truly love people first and foremost because they are people who are made in the image and likeness of our Creator. We don’t love them so that we can ‘evangelize’ them. We love them because the One that we have chosen to follow loves them and He loves them unconditionally.
Christian charities should be about mission not ministry. The problem with ‘ministry’ is that when it’s done to people, it tends to be superficial. It tends to elevate one person over the other. It shows little dignity. It makes little difference and in fact often hurts more than it helps.
The mission of Jesus is to reach out with compassion and touch people in need. It is to sit with people in their homes and to build real relationships and friendships. It is not to “fix people,” it is to come along side of people. The tension of opposites must be carefully navigated. The concept of “sustainability” and the biblical principle of “being blessed to bless others” are not enemies. Neither are they easy to work through. We are required to think and to act. Belief without practice is no faith at all. We must engage in the space of poverty and crisis. We must care for the real physical and spiritual needs of people.
The problem with most organizations that serve the poor or those affected by a crisis is that we have a “band aid” approach coupled with a “I need to feel good” agenda. Most of the funding for any particular crisis comes within the first three weeks of the date of the catastrophe. The charities are then held responsible to manage the realities of that crisis over a long period of time on whatever resources are raised in the early days. Donors give when their hearts are attached. Donors hearts are attached when pictures and stories are on the screens of our televisions. When the media dries up, so does the attention and the dollars. Do we really care?
Christian groups came in droves after the earthquake in Haiti. The dust has settled. Where are those same groups? Maybe the donor or service group feels better, but the effective change for the people in Haiti has not really been changed at all. Sometimes we give for the right reason, but we don’t watch our investment and build on it. When this is the case, the investment really was no investment at all. Sometimes we engage and serve because our hearts are broken more than understanding how broken and desperate the people are that need our love, time and attention. Your long-term investment is needed. Your persistent presence is needed. The problem with ministry is that it is often a millimeter deep and far too wide. The focus on mission is building deeper relationships while balancing sustainable concepts with biblical principle.
Choose an organization that values partnership with you and has a proven track record of effectiveness. Choose an organization that gives you the opportunity to follow your dollar and gives you ownership in the mission.