• Fred's Blog

    Blowing Up Bridges

      Early on in the life of The Gathering I had a conversation with Anne.  We had never met but she wanted to know more about the mission of The Gathering.  When I told her we were hoping to be a “bridge” between donors and what they needed to make good decisions she smiled and said “Well aren’t you the good little social worker?  You really need to be needed don’t you?”  She then drew a graphic I will never forget.  Two lines down the middle of the page represented a river.  On one side was The Gathering and on the other side she drew a blank circle with a…

  • Fred's Blog

    A Little Brush With History

    I enlisted in the Navy in 1968 at the height of the Vietnam war.  I discovered six months after enlisting that my draft number was #1 so I saved myself some time as it turned out.  As well by enlisting I was promised the opportunity to travel.  That’s one promise they kept!  While I was not by any stretch a fit for the structure of the military there were benefits. In July 1969 I was stationed in Sicily and working as a clerk in the base legal office.  We heard a rumor that the Secretary of the Navy John Chaffee was going to visit Sicily.  After a quick visit to…

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  • Fred's Blog

    Letting Go

      I had a chance to listen to a ministry founder this morning talk about his struggle with turning loose of the ministry. It’s glib and not really helpful to say “Let go and let God.”   All entrepreneurs are high control.  It’s their/our nature.  In our desire to make it right we sometimes smother the baby and shut down the people around us. In the earliest years of The Gathering, a Board member saw this in me and told me I needed to let go…but I did not know how.  So that weekend I went to the story of Moses and his mother and found some help.  Maybe it…

  • Fred's Blog

    The Architecture of Evangelical Philanthropy

      We spent two weeks on the Danube river recently and part of the tour was a variety of churches chapels and sanctuaries.  One of our guides a nonreligious person ” was also one of the most knowledgeable about Gothic and Baroque architecture.  In the course of looking at a number (a large number!) of cathedrals she talked about the theology and world view each represented.  I had never thought about it but it got my mind going about other things. Briefly” Gothic architecture was built around the transcendence ” awe and majesty of God.  Everything pointed vertically and the effect was to draw the congregation’s attention to heaven and…

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  • Fred's Blog

    A Friendly Exchange

      A young friend (let’s call him Cole from Chattanooga Tennessee) and I are having a back and forth conversation about the intrinsic value of donors becoming more competent and skilled.  While we are in agreement on the value of competence ” we are probably on different pages (for now) on how to define that. The exchange started with our both seeing the difficulty of donors first encountering complexity.  They believe (and sometimes ministries encourage this) that a gift to a particular cause will make everything in life better for a child.  If we can improve their access to water or health care or education or Bibles then their whole…

  • Fred's Blog

    Fixing The Crack In Creation

    I'm not ordained so I cannot do weddings or funerals. But sometimes friends ask me to say a word that is not ordained and binding. It's just me talking. This was the case in the wedding of a former student…but permanent friend.  "The first wedding of the world was on a Saturday…just about this time of day. Five times it was morning and evening ” and then it was the sixth day and somewhere around three o'clock in the afternoon the Lord God straightened up from his work…and declared that everything up to that point was very good…so good in fact that it could not have been better. Everything had…

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  • Fred's Blog

    My Philanthropy Reading List

    A few weeks ago a friend at a foundation in Michigan asked me to put together a list of books and/or other resources that would be helpful to him in his work in philanthropy.  I had never put a list together before and as I thought about what I would recommend to him I realized philanthropy is about so much more than the simple act of giving away money.  It involves understanding and working with individuals and organizations.  It relies on history psychology theology the arts ” business and economics.  So…here is what I sent him. Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry.  I am part of a community to which I…

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  • Fred's Blog

    When Are We Going To Grow Up?

      The Juvenilization of American Christianity. That's a mouthful.  It took me several times of practicing before I could use it this morning at church.  It's both an article in a recent issue of Christianity Today and a new book by Thomas Bergler.   "Juvenilization is the process by which the religious beliefs practices and developmental characteristics of adolescents become accepted as appropriate for adults."  While ministry innovations began as an attempt to tailor worship and programs to attract a new generation of youth the end result has been "fewer and fewer people outgrew the adolescent Christian spiritualities they had learned in youth groups…and although it may seem that the teenagers of…

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  • Fred's Blog

    But Is It Philanthropy?

      There is a rising tide of giving in this country.  Even in a weak economy ” giving in 2011 increased 7.5% from 2010 for a total of $346 billion.  According to "Giving USA" that will rise to $360 billion in 2012.  Individuals are the single largest source of giving (75%) and the largest recipient is broadly categorized as religion (36%). The largest non-religious channel for individual giving is the United Way which allows individuals to deduct contributions directly from their pay.  Another more publicized increase is that of young people giving small amounts through mobile phones to a wide variety of causes.  While it has been steadily growing for…