Unpublished Epilogue to Free To Give

October 8, 2007

Here it is on a beautiful late summer’s evening in Colorado . . . I find myself putting the finishing touches on my book which I hope to soon publish on the web. I started writing this book over 6 years ago, and in that time I thought I’d seen and heard just about every angle on charitable giving out there, but tonight I had an extraordinary experience which I feel is worth mentioning in my book.

I was invited to Castle Pines, an exclusive golf club here in Colorado, to attend an event in support of the Chancellor’s Club fund for my alma mater. The deal is this: they provide a banquet completely free of charge, they tell you all the wonderful things happening at the university, and the guests are solicited for monetary contributions to the university. At least that’s what I thought the deal was. A few dozen alumni and myself mingled for several hours and I began to wonder when they were going to make their “pitch”. The cocktail hour had passed. The dinner hour passed. Finally, the Chancellor got up and spoke for only 15 minutes. (He flew in on a weekday in the middle of the fall semester to speak for 15 minutes?!?) He talked briefly about recent accomplishments of the university and its future goals. At the end of his brief talk, he answered a few questions and he said he would appreciate our support. “A-ha”, I thought, “now he’s going to make his pitch.” But, instead, he sat down and the evening was adjourned. I expected that one of the university officials would talk about the different levels of giving and their associated benefits. Something like . . .

“For a gift of $1,000, you can become a Silver Patron”
“For a gift of $5,000, you can become a Gold Patron”
“For a gift of $10,000, you can become a Platinum Patron”

[I’m making this part up about the Silver, Gold, and Platinum patrons. It’s just that I expected a gimmick of some sort. I expected some challenge or enticement to give.]

Well, they never made their “pitch”. So I then expected there to be some sign-up or pledge sheet in the foyer on the way out. Nope. There was nothing! I couldn’t have given to the university that night even if I wanted to.

On the way home I was wondering how it was that the evening’s events could be considered a “fundraiser”? How do they know I wasn’t just there for a free meal at their expense? How do they know I’ll follow up? How do they even know what my intentions are?

But the funny thing was that I wanted to give, and I will follow-up. What kind of weird manipulation was this that they got me to want to give without applying any pressure? How can a charitable organization survive without even giving me the opportunity to give when I feel the strongest urge to give? (You can tell I’ve been thoroughly conditioned by my experiences in church.) I was just blown away by the overwhelming trust my alma mater has in its alumni. I was blown away. I cannot remember feeling like this in “church”. I have not felt that a pastor trusted me or the other members of the congregation to this degree. Tonight, my alma mater treated me as an adult; whereas, I’ve usually been made to feel like a child in “church”.

Maybe all colleges have a special camaraderie and fraternity among the alumni. It seems that my university’s alumni have a special affinity for our alma mater. The Chancellor was simply relying on our fondness for the institution to be the thing that would ultimately cause us to give.

But aren’t we in a similar situation in the Church? Isn’t there a fraternity among believers? – a dedication to the cause of Christ, a deep desire to spread the Gospel to a dying world? If I have any affinity for my alma mater, isn’t a Christian’s love for Christ infinitely deeper? Don’t we want to give out of this love also? I really think we do.

The thing that made the events of this evening so hard to comprehend was the fact that this is a secular institution! How does the “world” understand and operate according to these principles but not the “church”?


It is my hope that someday the Church of Jesus Christ will fulfill all that she was called to do for the glory of Christ on Earth.

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