By Richard Clark, Vice President for Advancement
When I tell people I am vice president for advancement at Johnson University, the response is almost always a blank stare followed quickly by, “What does that mean?”
Of course, there are some who think they know and assume advancement departments are all about raising money, by which they mean something between begging and convincing people to do something they do not really want to do. Frankly, my colleagues and I need a bigger reason to get up in the morning than that.
The Advancement Office at Johnson exists to help people experience the joy of generously investing their lives and resources in extending the kingdom of God. That is Great Commission-focused, as is the University’s mission statement. We hope people will find Johnson to be a good fit for their giving.
Furthermore, we believe that whenever Christians invest to help extend God’s kingdom, it should be a joyful experience because it is an expression of their transformation into the image of Christ. This joy is realized as we understand and embrace three key biblical truths:
- As Creator, God owns everything (“…for the world is Mine and all it contains,” Psalm 50:12). There are at least three implications that flow from that truth. First, we are dependent upon him since he owns it all. Second, anything we have control over is ours to steward, not to own. Third, we are accountable to him for that stewardship.
- As Provider, God is generous (“…God…richly provides all things for us to enjoy,” 1 Timothy 1:17). It naturally follows that a generous God is one who can be trusted. Since that is true, we ought to be gratefully content with what he has provided. Paul pointed out that he learned to be content even when he was hungry (Philippians 4). Finally, we should be a blessing to others. This, in fact, seems to be a major reason in both the Old and New Testaments for God blessing his people–so they would, in turn, bless others.
- As Redeemer, God’s plan is to transform us into his likeness and include us as partners in his redemptive mission to reconcile all things to himself (“We are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory,” 2 Corinthians 3:18). Implications of this reality include the idea that we should focus on eternal priorities, which are unseen. We should fully embrace our relationship with God as his adopted children, and we should engage the world as his partners in the ministry of reconciliation.
These three biblical truths provide a solid foundation for each Christian to grow in the understanding and practice of generosity. They also form the theological underpinning, or the “why,” for the work we do in Advancement. Far from “begging,” we see our work of inviting followers of Christ to partner in extending God’s kingdom as high and holy work. We pray that as people respond, they will experience the joy of those whom God is transforming into the image of Christ “with ever-increasing glory.” In part, our work is that of a purveyor, or a supplier, of that joy!
The three biblical principles presented here come from the “Theology of Advancement” written by Richard Clark. All Advancement Office personnel see their work as grounded on the firm foundation of biblical truth rather than institutional necessity and believe their purpose, goals, strategies, tactics, methodologies, and practices must all conform to the principles revealed in a proper understanding of Scripture.