Kingdom Philanthropy

By C. Peter Wagner

For most of us who have served in leadership positions in the church in recent times, the concept of philanthropy has been a rather distant and even abstract thought. We have been aware that philanthropists exist, but we do not ordinarily move in their circles. Many of us would not even be personally acquainted with one. Yes, at times we request grants from foundations operated by philanthropists, and that may be as close as we usually get.

Can We Become Philanthropists?

What would it be like if those of us who lead Christian ministries became philanthropists ourselves? I know that at first glance that would sound far-fetched. However, I would not be surprised if this fits into the direction that the stream of God seems to be moving in this season.

We live in extraordinary times. The 21st Century is already shaping up to be a quantum leap from the 20th Century around the globe. We now live in the Second Apostolic Age in which the biblical government of the church has come alive once again. The Holy Spirit has begun speaking to the churches about taking dominion of God’s creation as God originally intended us to do. Our 20th Century goal of saving souls and multiplying churches has been expanded to aim for nothing less than transforming our society.

Along with all of these mega-changes is the impending fulfillment of God’s promises through His prophets for the great transfer of wealth. My sense is that we are looking at unbelievable quantities of wealth moving from the control of the kingdom of darkness to the control of the kingdom of God. I know that it may be an exaggeration, but I have both faith and hope that it will be on the order of the wealth in Solomon’s kingdom.

It is one thing to receive and generate this wealth. Some will come through supernatural transfer from surprising sources. Some will come through supernatural revelation to kingdom-minded individuals who have the personal tools to produce wealth so that they will multiply their profits exponentially. This will be in tune with Deuteronomy 8:18: You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth that He may establish His covenant”

Responsible Distribution

It is another thing, however, to distribute this wealth responsibly. Here is where philanthropy comes in. Aristotle said that anyone can give money away, but only a few can give it to the right person at the right time to the right extent for the right reason and in the right way.

“Philanthropy” comes from two Greek words meaning “loving people.” It is a godly pursuit because God loves people. Those who are born again by the Holy Spirit reflect God’s love for people in their thoughts and in their actions. They are not self-centered because they feel that their destiny is not so much to help themselves but to help others. It is important to recognize up front that philanthropy and selfishness are opposites. If we are going to meet God’s standards for philanthropy we must first pass the test of selflessness. Loving others is more important than loving ourselves.

Having said this, we must at the same time cultivate healthy, biblical attitudes toward ourselves. The Book of Romans (see Rom. 12:1-2) tells us that if we are to do the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, two things are necessary. First, we must not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. That reflects what I just said about selflessness. But the second thing to do God’s will is to think soberly of ourselves. In other words we must come to a positive, realistic, accurate self-evaluation. We must know who we are and who God desires us to be.

Unfortunately there has been some misguided teaching in some of our churches that we should denigrate ourselves in order to please God. Supposedly pious phrases like, “We are nothing” are common. One of Charles Wesley’s songs has us singing, “such a worm as I.” God did not create us to be nothing or to be worms. He created us to be the head, not the tail (see Deut. 28:13).

Thinking Soberly of Ourselves

How do we think soberly of ourselves? Romans says “as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Rom 12:3). The same passage then goes on to say that part of this is knowing our spiritual gifts (see Rom 12:6-8). Another part is knowing the specific assignments that God has given each one us to advance His kingdom. I’m directing these thoughts on philanthropy mostly to those to whom God has given positions of leadership, primarily apostles (see 1 Cor, 12:28). I think it is quite obvious that most new kingdom philanthropists will be apostles, both apostles in the nuclear church and apostles in the workplace. Fortunately most apostles have been able to sort out the difference between unbiblical self-denigration and biblical selflessness.

Why have I dwelt so much on how we see ourselves? It is because of a very evident component of philanthropy that sometimes we do not surface in our minds. Think of it. Think of any philanthropist you have heard of. Start with America’s number one philanthropist, Bill Gates, if you want to. Before anyone becomes a philanthropist they first must possess the resources needed to fulfill their personal destiny in life, whatever that might be. Once their own perceived needs are fully met, they can then begin to focus on providing similar resources for others. Philanthropists are rich. There might be an exception to the rule from time to time, but I am talking about the rule.

The Oxygen Mask Principle

In the apostolic networks I have organized for what I call broad-band distribution, I apply the “oxygen-mask principle.” When we are in an airplane, the flight attendant announces the oxygen-mask principle. If the cabin decompresses, oxygen masks are deployed for each passenger. If you have a child with you, you are instructed to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. Why? Only if you have your necessary supply of oxygen can you help those who don’t.

This also applies to distribution of wealth. If I want the apostles with whom I work to be active and productive philanthropists, I must see that their needs are met first. If we need to dedicate most of our waking hours to raising funds for our operational cash flow and to finance the visions that God has given us for our ministry, we are not in the best position to help others. So I make the oxygen mask principle a policy. As funds become available the first projects to be resourced are those to which the apostles in my networks have been assigned by God. Because it is a policy, funding their own projects is not seen as selfishness, inurnment, or self-serving. It makes good sense. Through this policy we will multiply kingdom philanthropists.

As I said in the beginning, the body of Christ in general has not been in a philanthropic mode on a worldwide scale in the past. Yes, we have loved people, and we have helped others both spiritually and materially. We have fed poor people, we have been on the scene when disasters have hit, we have established schools and hospitals and orphanages. However, it is one thing to care for the poor, but it is quite another to remove the social causes of systemic poverty. Many tools are necessary to make this happen, and one of them is vast amounts of wealth which have not previously been at out disposition.

Deliverance from the Spirit of Poverty

I think that one of the blockages to this in the past has been the oppressive penetration of the spirit of poverty in our churches in general. If we are going to be philanthropists, we first need to be delivered from this pernicious demon. We need deliverance individually and in our families, and we need deliverance collectively in our churches and ministries. The opposite of poverty is prosperity. Prosperity is God’s will for His people and for His creation. Only prosperous people and ministries can be good philanthropists. That is why 2 Corinthians 9:8 says, “When you always have everything you need, you can do more and more good things.” Later on the same passage affirms that “God will make you rich enough so that you can always be generous” (2 Cor. 9:11 GW). Those who struggle and who are mired in debt cannot be as generous as they would like to be.

Consider this scripture: “There is one who [gives generously], yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich” (Prov. 11:24-25).

Agents for Kingdom Philanthropy

Who would be the most likely agents and agencies for kingdom philanthropy? It may surprise some when I say that they would probably be what we generally refer to as ministries or parachurch organizations as over against most local churches. A much more satisfactory technical term for ministries or parachurch organizations, in my opinion is “sodalities.” Its counterpart for local churches would be “modalities.” These terms have been used mostly in academic missiology, but I think they are useful because they do not carry the baggage that our more common terms often carry.

One of the many differences between the two structures is that modalities are pastoral while sodalities are apostolic. This is an obvious clue as to why I would think that sodalities would be the most likely agents for kingdom philanthropy.

Some local churches are exceptions to the rule. Some local churches function more like sodalities than modalities. They have apostolic leadership. Two churches that I am closely associated with would fit this description. One is Glory of Zion of Denton, Texas. My wife, Doris, and I are ordained under Glory of Zion. The apostolic leader is Chuck Pierce. The church is a base for sodalities such as Glory of Zion International, the Global Apostolic Prayer Network and the elite Eagles of God team of peripatetic prophetic intercessors.

The other church is Springs Harvest Fellowship where Doris and I currently hold membership. Our “senior pastor” is Dutch Sheets who regularly reminds the congregation that he does not have the gift of pastor nor does he carry the pastoral work of the church. Our functional pastor is his associate, Chris Jackson. Dutch has said, “I do not want to lead a local church. I want this house to be an ‘equipping center for kingdom ministry.’” This is apostolic language. The church is a base for Dutch Sheets Ministries and for the National Governmental Prayer Alliance which are classical sodalities.

I cite these concrete examples to explain in part why both Chuck Pierce and Dutch Sheets are included in the two apostolic networks that I lead, designed to provide an infrastructure for broad-band distribution of the kingdom wealth that is coming. They both qualify to become kingdom philanthropists.

Other concrete examples of sodality structures would be vertical apostolic networks such as Ché Ahn’s Harvest International Ministries or Michael Fletcher’s Grace Churches International or Jane Hansen’s Aglow International, just to name three. Following these would be the more obvious and common ministries that we are aware of.

All are potential agencies for kingdom philanthropy and the apostles who lead them are prime candidates for kingdom philanthropists.

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2 Responses

  1. […] kingthunder wrote a fantastic post today on “Kingdom Philanthropy”Here’s ONLY a quick extractThey are not self-centered because they feel that their destiny is not so much to help themselves but to help others. It is important to recognize up front that philanthropy and selfishness are opposites. If we are going to meet God’s … […]

  2. Yeah, let Kingdom Philanthropy arise … !

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