Just Cause vs. Just Cuz: Why Do People Contribute to Your Organization?

We find ourselves in very interesting times. We find ourselves in a place where people are particular about where they will contribute. For decades, many Southern Baptists (our denomination) would contribute to their denomination and the various organizations and associations primarily out of loyalty. Today, many contribute not out of blind loyalty, but to a just cause that makes a difference. Loyalty to an organization just because doesn’t wash much anymore. If that organization has lost its vision, then this generation will take their business or their resources and invest in that which itself invests.

The vision God has for us has captured our leaders here at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church and we pray will capture all of you here who have already come and connected to ARBC. Some of you are here out of loyalty to ARBC. No matter how we may move forward, you love this church and will stick with it. I’m thankful for you.

Yet, we live in Denver in 2014. If we want people to connect and contribute, we need to be clear as to what they are connecting and contributing. Telling them that they should connect and contribute to Christ and ARBC ‘just cuz’ is not a legitimate reason. Nor should it be for us. We should want more. We should want to contribute more.

We connect to a church to contribute to His kingdom. This may sound very restricting and very un-today when it comes to thinking about the Christian life. But consider what God has revealed about His church:

  • The body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12)
  • The bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33)
  • The building of Christ (1 Peter 2:1-7)
  • The manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10)
  • The pillar and ground/buttress of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).

In His universal church, God has raised up local churches with elders and deacons in order to preach the word, equip and serve the saints, and make disciples (that is, reaching those who need Christ and helping them grow biblically and spiritually in Christ).

We connect to a church, not ‘just cuz,’ but for a just cause–in order to contribute to His Kingdom. God set up His church as the primary vehicle to accomplish His mission. We are part of a body, we are not maverick, renegade, or lone rangers. In Ephesians 4:11-12, look at why:

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

The leaders in the church that God has gifted for the church are there to help all peoples connect with the church, but then to help all take that next step and contribute to the Kingdom work both inside and outside the church.

We contribute based on the love His Spirit pours his love into our hearts. Look at Romans 5:1-5:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

A genuine love is a love that comes from the one who is love. And the one who is love is the one who pours this authentic, Spirit-driven love into us.

Don’t blur the line to what is good. It’s much like the word ‘love.’ For many, expressing love is often defined in our culture as, “If you love me, you’ll let me live my life as I wish.” No, if I love you, then I will love you enough to tell you God’s will and truth. Remember what it says, “Transform your mind… so you may test what his good and pleasing and perfect will is.”

Love then is transformed in the mind not simply to be self­ish but selfless. Paul shows us what a true love looks like in God’s economy. This love is that which God pours into us by His Spirit as we contribute to His kingdom.

Just cause or ‘just cuz?’ This is a question all of us who are part of any organization need to start asking.

“That’s the Way We’ve Always Done It”: The Wrong Answer for Moving Forward

Established institutions worry about those who ‘rock the boat.’  So when newcomers express interest in an organization or become fully involved, they begin to look at their organization with new eyes.  Suddenly, the questions start to arise:  “How come we do this?”  “Why do we do it this way?”  “Has anyone ever tried this this way?” 

In too many instances, the splash of cold water comes along:  “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”  If this is where the conversation stops, and one is satisfied with that answer as ending the issue, then a problem exists. 

If I had the power, I would outlaw this phrase.  Why?  It’s lazy and unproductive.  By giving this answer (and being satisfied with it) does one the disservice of not analyzing and exploring the issue to see if it could be accomplished better, or if it needs to change, or if it needs to stop. 

So what is the right answer for inquiring minds?

  • Find out how it began.  The reason why this event or program began may have served its purpose for a time.  But that time may have passed.  But it’s always good to go to the source. 
  • Think like a church planter.  Church planters examine Scripture and examine their culture and go from there.  Many times, we as established churches simply think within the paradigm of our traditions and what ‘worked’ in the past.  It’s good to start with a blank sheet of paper and the Word of God and go from there.
  • Be willing to cut bait or re-calibrate.  If a program or event’s only pull is that it’s something we’ve always done but does little to advance the gospel or strengthen the church, we need to evaluate as to whether to cut bait (phase it out) or re-calibrate and reorient something good into something great for the glory of God. 
  • Examine Scripture to see what is non-negotiable (such as in Acts 2:42-47; Matthew 22:37-40; Acts 4:32-37, etc.), and what is personal preference.  Churches cannot do everything!   Each week, we get mail and ideas from those inside and outside the church that we should do or must do.  Sometimes we can, other times we are able to do so with the resources we have.  Most of the time, we are able to visioneer and strategize to put things forward with the people and resources we have.  But everyone has a bias, Christian or non-Christian.  The secret that many have not realized is recognizing that which is a personal bias and preference, and that which serves as an absolute truth in regards to what Scripture outlines.
  • Keep in mind there are actual people in the church.  So we see a ministry may need re-calibrating or phased out.  Headstrong people would be ready to say, “Let’s do it!  It’s the right thing to do—let’s move!”  As someone once told me, “Easy there, big fella.”  You have another component—people!  People who are involved and invested in these ministries, if for no other reason than a comfort factor.  If those folks are not involved in the process of evaluating this area, you will lose whatever influence you may think you have or hope to have.   True leaders don’t just walk in front of their people, but walk with them.  Some change will be obvious to make and can be done quickly—other change will take time.  It’s better to bring them along by making the case and letting it simmer.  Whatever short-term gain you may have in the quick change will be a long-term loss in your influence because you are communicating that programs mean more than people.  That’s a bad day!

So the right answer?  Let’s take a look at it and see if this helps or hinders the vision God has given for us.   Paul told Timothy:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching (2 Timothy 4:1-2, ESV).  Patience is a lost commodity on leaders, but patience is what is commanded.  Everything worth doing takes time, love, and teaching! 

May God help us as leaders to help our people ask the right questions!