• Fred's Blog

    Lucky Charms

    I have written before about harmful assumptions for development professionals ministering to wealthy donors. Just as real are the traps that donors fall into with ministry leaders. I say “with” because oftentimes they fall together. I want to be careful here because not every donor to a ministry and not every leader finds themselves in this situation. But enough do to make it a concern that we don’t talk about nearly as much as we should. In Judges 17 a wealthy man named Micah uses his family money to build a private chapel and ordain one of his sons as a priest. However, a young Levite “seeking his fortune” shows up at Micah’s house and…

  • Fred's Blog

    Ministering To Donors

    I am going to upset some people now.  It’s not intentional but I think there is a good deal of misinformation that has been floating around for years about the idea of ministering to donors. I am not arguing with the overall concept of ministering to people – just with a couple of assumptions about what ministry is to donors. First it assumes donors (especially major donors) need a particular kind of ministry due to their circumstances. Those circumstances are described as isolated lonely spiritually dry weighed down with family problems that include shaky marriages troubled kids and misplaced priorities. There are more but these seem to be the most…

  • Fred's Blog

    Did I Hear You Call Me A Philanthropist?

      I grew up in a Protestant tradition that had no creeds.  Well we did sing "Just As I Am" and that was pretty close to a creed.  So when I branched out as a young adult and encountered the Apostle's Creed and especially the phrase "I believe in the holy catholic Church" I could not understand how the fellow Protestants were blithely mumbling the words without a hesitation. How could that be?  What had I missed? I grew up thinking Catholics abducted babies and shipped them off to Rome and practiced strange rituals late at night. Everyone reading this who grew up in a similar non-creedal church knows what…

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  • Fred's Blog

    Making Sure They Fail

      The real challenge in estate planning is not the technical and financial part.  According to Roy Williams at The Williams Group, only 2 to 3 percent of failed estate transfers were caused by professional incompetence on the part of advisors, accountants, and attorneys.  The major cause of failure is the lack of preparing the heirs for assuming the responsibilities and benefits of wealth. Why is that? The results of interviews with 3,250 families showed the primary cause of failing to prepare heirs is a breakdown of trust and communication within the family.  “Parents were routinely decisive in dealing with business matters or in selecting their professional advisors.  But when…

  • Bible Studies

    Judges 3-5

    1.  The setting. Another transition in leadership. Think about it as a Western. Wagon Train with Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood. Strong leaders. Moses and Joshua. Transition to A Fistful of Dollars, The Good, The Bad, The Ugly. Moses and Joshua are gone and the people are on their own. They are separated by distance and vulnerable to attack. It is lawless territory. It is dry, windblown and harsh. They are new arrivals scratching out an existence and subject to oppression from bad guys but incapable of resisting. Out of nowhere comes a deliverer, a flawed hero. He drives out the oppressors, rescues the people and moves on. There is…

  • Fred's Blog

    A Good Evangelical Novel Is Hard To Find

      This blog is a little out of the ordinary for me, but a good friend sent me an article by Philip Jenkins with a provocative question. “Imagine you wanted to teach a course on Evangelical Christianity, past or present, what novels or similar texts might you use? One problem, of course, is for many years evangelicals had real doubts about the whole world of novels which they associated with frivolity or even immorality and that’s why there is no evangelical Jane Austen. On the other hand, Puritans like John Bunyan have a good claim to have invented the English novel as a genre – Pilgrim’s Progress or The Life and Death…

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  • Fred's Blog

    Tolerance Is My Second Choice

    A friend who has a developed taste for politics but whose soul has not yet been taken over by the partisan body snatchers came by recently and dropped off a book that has helped me avoid the trap of cynicism and despair.  Like all of us who have had small children on road trips we are weary of hearing the kids call each other names point out minor infractions ("she's breathing on me again") and make us turn around countless times and warn them about "one more time and you are going to bed with no dessert tonight."  Of course ” I am not talking about small children.  I am talking…

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  • Bible Studies

    Judges 1:1-3:36

    1.  Succession plan Moses was the liberator. Joshua was the military leader for conquering the land. There was never any intention to have a leader after that. Everything was to be organized by tribes and local government. No President. No King. No standing national armies. It would be like our having States but no national government. There would be no United States – just States. Some tribes do better than others at driving out the Canaanites. Some have to cooperate with each other and some do it on their own. Some few are unsuccessful and live with the consequences. There is no attempt to form a national effort to drive…

  • Fred's Blog

    A Changing Mission

      Twenty years ago it was likely the missions pastor in a church would have been a retired missionary older pastor or a member of the staff who had worked with seniors in the congregation.  While missions overall was extremely important to the church and denomination ” the decisions about missions and mission giving were fairly simple. Supporting denominational programs or a group of missionaries with strong ties to the church was routine.  There were a relative handful of churches whose mission programs were highly visible compared to the other ministries.  The typical staffing budgets were focused on youth” music ” education and periodic capital campaigns. That has changed dramatically. …