Whether we are growing a church, sponsoring a youth rally, or embarking on a mission trip, we depend on God’s provision of tangible resources to accomplish His will for us. God works in unpredictable ways to supply our needs, and we often play a part in it by inviting people to participate. On my journey, here are seven principles I have learned that might help you in this challenging work.
1. Trust God
We may have the best-looking materials, the sharpest presentations, and the most compelling testimonies, but they are nothing if God does not work the hearts of people we are trying to reach. We try to find the magic formula that guarantees success, but there is no such thing. Only God can grant the things we ask of Him, so our role is to trust Him. If He calls us to a ministry, He will give us everything necessary for it. Does that mean that we just sit back and expect God to do all the work? Of course not. More on this later.
2. Raise people, not money
As ministers of the gospel, we often find ourselves in need of more and more financial resources. And far too often, that is where our focus is because we face financial needs. We have a financial goal to reach and everything else becomes secondary. One thing we often forget is that we should be ‘raising people’ not just ‘raising money’ for the ministry.
3. Value and appreciate people
We need to be sensitive as we communicate. We tend to put people in different categories, especially when it comes to the amount of giving we expect from them. Granted, God may choose to use people with various abilities to give but everyone deserves our attention. If our current or prospective partners feel like the only reason we contact them, pay them a visit, give them a call, and write them a letter is to present yet another financial need, it reveals our hearts are just focused on money.
4. Work hard
Developing ministry partners is hard work, especially since we do not really know whom God will choose to call to be a part of our ministry. We need to knock on a lot of doors (sometimes literally), make a lot of calls, and give a lot of ministry presentations. The Lord has allowed me to travel to 40 countries. As different as all those countries were, they all had one thing in common. None of them had money trees growing by the airport. I have never walked off the plane to a red carpet with people welcoming me with briefcases full of money they wanted to share. Looking for those people is a long and hard process.
5. Practice makes perfect
Over the years, I feel like I have made more than 10,000 phone calls and given more than 1,000 ministry presentations. Because I still get nervous every time I pick up the phone, address a prospective supporter personally, or speak at a church, I practice the presentation ahead of time. My interactions with prospective ministry partners and coaching other missionaries showed me that we usually do not have a problem sharing all the wonderful things we saw God do in and through our ministries if we are prepared.
6. Step outside your comfort zone
Initiating contact with people we do not know or do not know well is not easy. We prefer a call to a meeting, a letter to a call, and a subtle request for help to a direct invitation to participate in our work through giving. Too often, we simply ask people to ‘pray for us and our ministry,’ hinting to our need for financial support rather than directly asking prospective ministry partners to get on board with us financially. Of course, prayer is crucial. But people pray more fervently for missionaries and ministries they support.
7. Communicate faithfully
If we can safely overdo something, it is support maintenance. As ministers of the gospel, we need to make absolutely sure that our partners hear from us on a consistent and regular basis. They need to know what God is doing and feel they are a part of it. Faithfulness in this area will bear much fruit long-term.
People may begin supporting us because of what we do, but they will continue supporting us because of who we are together as partners in God’s work. As busy as we may be working in God’s Kingdom, we always need to remember to trust God, raise people not money, value and appreciate people, work hard, practice, step outside our comfort zone, and communicate faithfully.