A little boy is in Sunday school at church and his teacher asks him a question, “What lives in a tree, eats nuts, and has a bushy tail?” The little boy thinks for a moment and says, “I know the answer is Jesus, but it sounds like a squirrel.”
Who Jesus is and the message He brings is central to the work of most Christian organizations. Whether it is through traditional evangelism or by seeking to model an organization after Christ the Gospel message guides a Christian nonprofit’s vision. But the point of the story above illustrates the greater popular opinion of many Christian organizations. Nonprofits are often valued based on the work the organization does even more than their written missions statement. Like this little boy, many of us have heard the message about evangelism so many times that we jump to conclusions too early. My wish is that more Christian organizations would do good work in this world in response to what Jesus has done for us and let our evangelism come from the actions serving the people of the world.
Beyond Christian ministries, there is a message in this for all of us. We need to be careful not to become too cliché with our message to donors or we lose our ability to be effective. A couple of great examples are our slogans or mission statements. Too often our mission statement or slogan actually doesn’t say anything. In effort to clarify our messages I hope we do not oversimplify the problems.
Our donors and communities need to understand the complexity of the issues with which we work. Poverty, global health, education–they all require a significant on-going investment to make a difference. Our culture provides too many sound bite messages that do not tell us anything. The biggest obstacle many of the problems our organizations face is providing a clear course of action for our donors to respond to.