For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity. In My faithfulness I will reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.Isaiah 60:8
When FBF was first started, we strongly considered the possibility of becoming a 501c3, which means an organization that can give people tax receipts so that they can write off deductions on their taxes. Truth be told, we came very close to doing so. It seemed to make the most logical sense. Then roadblocks repeatedly seemed to rise up in front of us, such that we finally paused to consider if that was truly the path God wanted us to take.
As time went by, we began to realize that most people were not asking for a receipt. They were grateful to find a home for the things they were no longer using with an intense joy in their hearts that surprised us. They expressed relief and, even more encouraging, great happiness that they knew it was actually going to someone who could and would use it. Surprisingly, we also found this with those donating brand new items; again, they were thrilled to be helping another. With a little more thought, we realized we were often just a conduit, passing along blessings between souls. You might think that not being able to give out a receipt would hamper what we do, but every time we come across a need, an item often arrives that helps.
Of course, as time went on, we continued to ponder the idea of being a 501c3, as even most churches hold a similar exemption. However, after much prayer and reflection, we began to understand that God was, and is, doing something different with FBF–something that challenges people’s faith. You see, God has always led us into the matters of the heart; what is in them and what is controlling them. It is in those tender spots where we find the potential for growing more faith. And that is what we see Him doing with FBF…planting seeds that encourage complete trust in Him instead of ourselves.
So how does this apply to choosing not to be a 501c3?
Praying for wisdom and discernment, this is what we have received over the years:
God is in charge of it all.
What you earn and receive, all of that has come to you from God. Whether it is the brains He has given you, or the brawn that enables you to be productive, it is because of His design of you, coupled with your willingness and diligence, that you are even able to produce. And here at FBF, we know that things do not arrive on our doorstep because of our own might. Everyone has jobs to do in this world, but ultimately, we are not the source of the answers to our prayers. For us, this knowledge sets the stage for the best kind of stewardship–the giving with a right heart, with gratefulness, and with total surrender to His will realizing that it is truly all His.
We heard this discussed so much over the years. “If you were a 501c3, then I could and would give you more. It would allow me to be a better steward with how we tithe.” Or, “I’d write you out a big check right now that could really help you if you were a charitable organization.” “Do you know what you could do? You could apply for so many government grants! You could do so much more!!”
It was in one of the moments that we realized that something else was going on by not being a 501c3. It was challenging those who were struggling to truly let go of the gifts that God was nudging them to give. During one of those discussions, we stood in the midst of two rooms full of donations, and all of those suggestions on great ways to receive more seemed to ring hollow next to what we had seen God move hearts to bring. There is a beauty in realizing that Wal-mart or some other corporation is not sponsoring what we do. God is. He is the Someone that is moving hearts to help in ways our world just cannot believe. Our outreaches are often mind-boggling to those who help, and in their simple beauty, He sends along the message of Who is really in control.
While we understand the rationales for all those kind suggestions–truly we do–what we started to see was that people were not really letting go of what they were giving without wanting to receive something back. Though we respect those who feel that a tax receipt is the best way to be a good steward of their tithing or generosity, we think God is doing something bigger here in growing faith that lets go completely and trusts Him with the results. The richest soil for growing faith is often in full surrender.
We see all sorts of people in their faith walk. Some are strong; some are new; some just do not know what to believe; and others–well, they are tired of “religion” and what it demands. No matter where a soul stands on this, most of them just want to do right in this world and are seeking out ways to do so. In FBF’s journey, we often find God moving us, and others, out of our comfort zones because it is there that we tend to stagnate and become complacent. In much of life, that which challenges us makes us stronger. We have found that not being a 501c3 best encourages people to trust God with what He is doing in stretching them to let go of that which He desires for them to share.
God has a lot to say about this subject. Much of it has been a surprise to us, and quite contrary to what you will hear from many. Attached to this page are pages that explore the Scriptures that have helped us to gain a better understanding and the confidence to stand a part from the rest in this regard. We invite and encourage you to take a look.
I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which He is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us–yes, the many good things He has done for the house of Israel, according to His compassion and many kindnesses.Isaiah 63:7