If you judge by appearance, and see there is great need or lack…
do not allow yourself to be connected with the lack concept…
connect with prosperity… . Some will say we are hard hearted,
that we do not believe in helping others. That does not follow.
The law operates for all. What are you connected with in thought?
—Charles Fillmore on the principle of the Law of Mind Action
Times are changing and people are changing with them. Research from Giving USA and other pertinent sources reveals that what people gave to in the past, what they donated to, how much they donated, and why they donated no longer holds true today.
Spiritual principles are eternal. However, how we work with and demonstrate those principles does shift with the evolution of consciousness. Are you up to date with the new ideas that overlay the eternal spiritual principles of giving?
In this article, we will consciously take a look at our belief systems and our willingness to be willing (or not) to dismantle our negative and/or old structures of knowing around our thoughts about money; money and ministry; and about the minister not consciously participating in areas such as finances, fundraising, interacting with large donors, asking for support.
The meaning of money depends upon how you choose to hold the idea of money in mind, in your thoughts. Remember!
“The meaning we choose to give to our ideas and that meaning determines our spiritual growth,” Bill Easum wrote in a book entitled Ministry in Hard Times. His ideas are pertinent and interesting to ministry today even though the title rubs against the fabric of what I have learned as the basis of spiritual principle and Unity teachings. As a traveling minister and spiritual life coach I hear negative-oriented words spoken over and over by both ministers and congregants: “Offerings are down; it is the economy.” “Offerings are down; people aren’t giving like they used to.” “Money is tight.” Are these statements true? Or are there other variables impacting giving within the spiritual community that have not been considered?
We live by the ideas and principles we know. Our words have power based upon the power we give to the idea behind them. What power are you giving to the idea of money and/or lack of it as a viable commodity in your life and ministry? What thought energy are you putting into the idea of money and abundance or lack thereof?
We speak often of practical application of principle; in fact, one might say we bandy it about as a banner. What can be known is that Infinite Mind is always measuring back to us according to our perceptions and conceptions of what we are putting into it. The measure of an idea is determined by its demonstration. What are you currently demonstrating?
If our ideas are steeped in or on making money, we may receive temporary material gain. If our ideas are steeped in and on raising spiritual consciousness and aligning with more of who we are as a spiritual beings—recognizing that a church/spiritual community has a collective consciousness, too—then we will see results accordingly. Look at the financial situation of the spiritual community and you will know what the collective consciousness is holding in mind.
The first principle that we in Unity espouse is that, “There is only One Presence and One Power.” This is either true or it isn’t—which is it? We have the power to determine our choices, and our choices determine what our consciousness holds as Truth about prosperity and how prosperity demonstrates in our life and spiritual community. It is imperative to take an honest look at our beliefs and then look at how we are demonstrating them or not.
Now that we have looked realistically at how we behold money and/or prosperity and are demonstrating it or not, let’s look at some urban myths about prosperity, money, and ministry. The intention is to do some myth-busting, so get ready!
Author and fundraiser extraordinaire
J. Clif Christopher shares in his book, Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate, that he doesn’t know a minister who ever said of their calling, “I really like to raise money, so I am going into ministry.” Yet prosperity, and its incumbent responsibility of financial stewardship, is an important aspect of ministry. We are stewards of the resources provided by each person within our spiritual community, which are given in a multitude of forms, one of which is money. In the end though, it is important to remember that prosperity is not something we do; it is about who we are. Prosperity/Substance (the energy that underlies all creation and all that we create with) lives in us, as us, and we demonstrate according to our conscious relationship with these principles (or lack thereof).
Let us look at a few myths that J. Clif Christopher has uncovered and that perhaps we are ready to bust.
• Don’t ask for money. It is not spiritual.
What? Money is a form of energy and we must be intentional when we work with energy. We are constantly exchanging energy in some form. We exchange money for products, services, or as a tithe as a “tactical agreement that man is in partnership with God…tithing is based on a law that cannot fail, establishes method in giving. It brings into the consciousness a sense of divine order…” So one of the reasons we exchange money is for the creation of a sense of divine order in mind. What type of energy are you exchanging around money? Energy doesn’t lie. It returns to us what we are giving out as the dominant thought.
• Giving is between God and the giver; therefore I will not ask.
Jesus said, “ask and ye shall receive.” As stewards of the resources, it is our responsibility to invite or ask people to step into the space of being a giver. It is still their choice as to whether they give or not. The real issue isn’t the ASK, it is whether or not we are comfortable with the ASK. It is about the energy we hold around asking: Is it a positive or negative energy? Do you see the difference?
• It is only important to have clear vision and mission.
People have thought that a clear vision and mission is enough to invite or entice people to join their “cause” – be it a building fund, a youth activity, a new sanctuary, general funding of the community, etc. This does not hold true today. Research, according to Christopher, is showing that times have changed and people have changed; thus, before they give to something they want to see a clearly defined and well thought out strategic, intentional, plan of action. Actually, this is the fifth principle of Unity’s Five Basic Principles: demonstrate through action. People want to see where and how the energy (money, time, resources, etc.,) is going to actively move the vision forward.
• People give to projects.
This is so not true. As consciousness has evolved, people have changed their minds as to why they are willing to give and where they are willing to give. People now give to projects that transform lives. Giving just because the church is in need or a minister said so doesn’t work or hold true any longer!
• The reward is in giving, not in why the gift is given.
Whoa, this is a big myth that needs to be busted! This may have held true fifty or a hundred years ago, but times have changed and consciousness has changed with it. Over the years I have heard people bandy about this statement by Charles Fillmore: “I reserve the right to change my mind.” Here is a scenario where I do believe that Mr. Fillmore would be looking around to see what the new thoughts are regarding people and giving – without sacrificing principle. Research shows that people no longer give as a reward for the gift of giving. People now want to be assured that they are serving a greater purpose in their giving. Thus, if you ASK people to give in order to remodel the kitchen they probably won’t respond as much as they would if you ASK them to give to the assurance that hospitality will take place within this spiritual community and that newcomers will have a place to be welcomed. Do you see the subtle difference? What this also means is that you do not write a year-end letter expounding upon all the things the church did or how this or that was remodeled (new furnace, painted the …) – no, people want to hear how it serves a greater purpose within the context of the spiritual community, e.g., we created an area where people can gather and discuss spiritual topics, welcome newcomers, and so on.
• The minister should not be aware of who donates and how much they donate.
Whoa, where did this one get started? Is it more spiritual to stay ignorant of what is happening in the spiritual community regarding money? I don’t think so! Another grounding spiritual principle is gratitude, giving thanks for all things. You acknowledge the guest soloist or musicians, you acknowledge the volunteers. How does this differ from acknowledging large donors? Ask yourself, “Is it because their gift is money and I secretly have a hang-up about ‘rich people,’ or maybe my hang-up is about money and how people with money treat other people?” People who in this lifetime have been given the grace of having money to share are no different from a great singer who has a gift of voice to share. It is all energy being shared! Which leads us to the grumblers in our church, those persons who complain that “rich people get all the attention.” Christopher says, “Spending time with persons of wealth who have already expressed in their giving a desire to serve is a way to do our job.” These people are the ones who keep the church growing and going and they should be acknowledged as one would a singer. The grumblers often grumble because seeing someone of wealth triggers their own fears, anxieties, or inadequacies. Our work as ministers is to support people from moving from where they are in consciousness into higher ground. Being rich or poor is not a determining factor.
• I am a minister, not a fundraiser.
Whether the minister is considered the CEO or a spiritual leader, there is not a not-for-profit today (Salvation Army, Red Cross, educational dean) who does not have in their job description the element of fundraising. It is a given! The question is, “Are you comfortable with fundraising, or have you created your own story about not wanting to know who the large givers are so you don’t treat them special and thus do not have to participate?” If this describes you, get over it! This could be your next call to spiritual growth.
Regarding all the ideas that have been discussed in this article, remember that everything is perception, and perception lives only in our mind. Thus, once introduced to a new idea, our minds and perceptions can be changed. Once changed, shifted, and/or transformed—even just a smidgeon—the new thought-idea has the capacity to influence the whole of the spiritual community (literally, and the community within you). Fillmore referred to these actions as the Law of Mind Action and the Law of Correspondence, and he said in the Unity Correspondence Course, “thoughts are contagious.” Are you ready to catch a few new ones?
Read my article Creating Intentional Prosperity (Part II).