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Why Didn’t They Teach Me THAT at the Seminary?
By Halvard Thomsen
How many times have you asked that question during the years since you left the Seminary? How many different subjects would you include under that question? Clearly, as comprehensive as Seminary training is for our theological/pastoral training, the curriculum simply cannot prepare us for every eventuality we face in the task of leading our churches and guiding the spiritual lives of the members entrusted to our care. 

One of the challenges we face again and again, one that cannot be answered in your notes from your class in Historical Theology, is how to finance the church’s mission. Of course most of your members are returning their Tithe, but what happens when the congregation decides to build a new church, add on to the church or school, or embark on an aggressive program of ministry to the community beyond what the regular church budget can handle? As your congregation lays plans for these aspects of ministry, how do you go about raising the money? While costs for ministry in North America continue to rise, giving patterns of our church members keep changing. Where can you find the help you need?

Many years ago the North American Division created a new department, Philanthropic Service for Institutions (PSI), with the goal of helping Adventist institutions with their fundraising needs. In recent years PSI has also been assisting local churches in the techniques of fundraising. The services of PSI have been a great blessing. More and more pastors are asking, “Where can I learn these principles?”

Responding to that question, Dr. Lilya Wagner, PSI Director, recognized an opportunity when the NAD created the Adventist Learning Community. Drawing from her many years of teaching the principles of fundraising at The Fund  Raising School of Indiana University, her network of practitioners and educators, and her extensive experience in curriculum development, Dr. Wagner designed a course specifically for pastors. The Adventist Learning Community is hosting this class which is available online, and on demand.
This course focuses on current best practices in fundraising, and addresses such questions as, “What role should pastors play in the giving habits of their members?” “Is funding the ministry of the church really a spiritual responsibility?” “How does fundraising fit with stewardship and systematic giving practice?” You will learn how cultures affect attitudes to giving, how to present your need to the various audiences in your congregation.

Video presentations from some 45 professionals make up the 19 modules of the course. In addition, you will find additional online resources, reading the textbooks and supplemental readings and doing the exercises – all designed to help you know the best methods to use to finance a building or special ministry project.

You can complete the course at your own pace and at your own schedule. You will spend approximately 30 hours watching the videos, and earn 2 continuing education credits. Create an account at, search “PSI” and you will be able to enroll in the course.

Halvard Thomsen writes from Apple Valley, California. Currently retired, he formerly served as assistant to the president for the North American Division. In that capacity he was administrative liaison for Philanthropic Service for Institutions. He coordinated the preparation of this course for ALC on behalf of PSI.