“The Third Conversion” by Dr. R. Scott Rodin – Book Review

Dr. Scott Rodin writes about what financial development should be; joyful ministry. As a former development officer, seminary president and current leader in the stewardship movement, few people are as uniquely experienced to write such a profound story.

This Novelette follows the story of Walt, a VP at a medium-sized Christian nonprofit in Seattle, who is training Carl, his replacement. Carl is a capable fundraiser with a great track record. He is a competitor. He thrives on “closing the deal”. Walt is a real friend to the donors of Hands of Love International (HOLI). He views each interaction with constituents as an opportunity to bless them, not extract from them or financially transact with them.

In their short time together, Walt helps Carl to visit five donors to HOLI. Some donors are mature in their faith and far along in their steward’s journey. Others struggle to see beyond their ownership and control of all that they sit atop. Rodin masterfully paints a picture of how each individual struggles with two-kingdom living versus one-kingdom living. Do we recognize God as owning everything, or do we amass our kingdom and occasionally give to God’s? This fundamental question delves into our understand of our steward relationship with God, ourselves, others and our possessions.

“The conventional wisdom is that ministries need their supporters in order to operate, to exist. We go at our work with this ‘needy’ mindset and treat our supporters as if they only have things to give and we have all of the need. But from a biblical steward’s perspective, the truth is actually the opposite. As God’s people, we are given the privilege and calling to be faithful and wise stewards of what God has given to us. But to do that, we need credible places to give to, ways to invest God’s resources that are both efficient in using money and effective in employing it for kingdom purposes. Without well-run organizations and ministries, it is very hard to be a faithful steward of our funds. And we need people to encourage us in our journey as stewards. When we do our job well, we provide the places and means for God’s people to carry out their calling, to be obedient and faithful in an effective way. And we meet a need they have for someone to walk with them in this stewardship journey. So in truth, our supporters need us and the ministries we represent. That’s why this is ministry and not fundraising.” – Walt, from p.78

This is the seventh book I’ve read by Rodin. It is by far the easiest read; it finished in under two hours. The beauty in The Third Conversion is that it encapsulates rich stewardship theology for which Rodin is known in a practical, entertaining and engaging story. This book is for you if:

  1. You work for a Christian ministry
  2. You volunteer for a Christian ministry
  3. You donate to any organization

You can find more of Dr. Rodin’s works at www.kingdomlifepublishing.com.

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5 thoughts on ““The Third Conversion” by Dr. R. Scott Rodin – Book Review

  1. Does Scott use the word “donor” throughout his book, or is that your language? One need that I see in effective PDM is to get that word out of our vocabulary. By definition, a donor is someone who gives something of their own to someone who is in need (i.e. “I donated some food to the poor”), and receives nothing in return.
    In contrast, a partner is someone who works together for a project or cause. A partner shares in the work and the reward of ministry (see Philippians 4:15 where Paul says, “no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.”; also see 4:17. While you are at it, read the whole chapter).

    • HI David – thanks for your question. I just thumbed through the book, and I did not see the word “donor”. It’s an allegory, and he uses the term “supporter” and “sponsor”. Paul also uses the word “giver” (δότην (dotēn) 2 Corinthians 8 and 9), which is wholly synonymous with “donor”. I used both “donate” and “donor” in my review. In hindsight, I would probably keep “donate” because of the IRS implications, but I might replace “donor” with “constituents”, “supporters”, or “partners”.

  2. Thank you for clarifying that! I understand the use of “donate” for IRS purposes as the language in our tax forms talk about “charitable donations” as deductions. That makes sense.

    Paul uses the word in 2 Corinthians 9:7 “For God loves a cheerful *giver*.” He also uses a form of it in Philippians 4:15 “…not one church shared with me in the matter of *giving* and receiving, except you only.” Those are the only two times the word is used in the NIV. In both contexts it is clear that giving is only part of what the churches are participating in.

    In the Corinthians passage, Paul is reminding the church of their commitment, and the great reward that they will receive for following through with the commitment (they have not yet honored their part of the partnership with him, but he anticipates that they will and he reminds them to do so, so they will be cheerful when the time comes).

    In the Philippians passage, Paul talks about sharing in both giving and receiving.

    In both passages, there is a major emphasis on partnership and how those who partner with missions work as financiers will receive credit or rewards.

    I argue that Paul is saying donating, or giving, is only a part of partnership. As long as missionaries keep their focus on donors, givers, supporters, funders, they are missing the deeper understanding of what Partnership Development Ministry is about.

    I have not yet read The Third Conversion, but from your review, it sounds like (at least in part) this fable is about missionaries taking their focus off of their own need and putting it on the need of the church to be in true partnership.

    I look forward to reading it, and I thank you for posting about it.

  3. Pingback: “The Million Dollar Dime” by Dr. R. Scott Rodin – Book Review | Shawn Manley

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