For the first fifteen years of my ministry with EGM, I had the opportunity to be part of the Leadership Development Council that met regularly in Colorado Springs.
Four godly men with amazing experience in business and Christian ministry served as our mentors. The first few times we met, there was a little posturing, but we all settled in and admitted none of us really knew what we were doing. (Hey! That’s why we’d been invited into the group!)
I was particularly clueless. For example, in one session a seasoned businessman asked how many of us had “procedures” in our offices.
We all got that blank look, and I could tell he was thinking what business people think around ministry people. Then he asked if anyone knew what a procedure was.
I replied, “As far as I know, it’s when doctors do things like removing a kidney.” Well, that got a laugh—and the lecturer was relieved to know I was only leading a children’s ministry.
Anyway, during those meetings, I learned how to read financial statements, interview, and call personnel, “separate” individuals, manage different personnel types, lead people through change, manage growth, and work with a board of directors. (None of those topics had been addressed during my MDiv program at the seminary.)
One thing became clear over time: most people in the group saw fundraising as the worst aspect of their ministry calling. It was something they actually dreaded.
When fundraising was a topic, most everyone’s countenance fell and you sensed it was an unavoidable evil.
Many leaders thought that you had to fundraise so that you could get the needed resources to do ministry. There was only one leader in the group that seemed not “put off” by the idea of fundraising.
The road well-traveled creates and fuels this thinking. When the fundraiser’s focus is on funding, giving totals, and meeting budgets, making the ask is crucial.
The foundation of the road well-traveled is the paradigm in the Christian leader or Pastor’s head that has three elements:
- Our church or ministry needs money to do God’s Work.
- You have money.
- I need to convince you to give money.
Therefore, keeping the congregation positive about the church, the ministry of the church, and the pastor of the church is essential.
The Pastor or Christian leader can subtlety feel like they are a salesperson or marketeer needing to convince the “prospect” of the value of their product. This is not something that is in the front lobe of thought but rather lurks as an undercurrent.
Under this pressure, the zeal, enthusiasm, and willingness to take initiative drains away, to be replaced by dread. The pastor’s heart is sucked out of the leader.
On the road less traveled, however, the fundraiser’s primary concern is ministering to people:
- Helping them grow closer to God as they ask Him to guide their giving
- Helping people give their hearts to God and join Him in fulfilling His vision
- Helping Christians experience the grace of giving and the spiritual blessings that flow from cheerful and generous giving
- Thanking God for our salvation
On the road less traveled, the Pastor or Christian leader has confidence that God is working in the hearts of His people and that we can join Him in that work.
On this road, giving can change a person’s heart and be the source of spiritual renewal. This is a full-blown ministry. This perspective fuels initiative, enthusiasm, and zeal even for fundraising responsibilities.
Fundraising as Ministry
Jim and Jane Hietbrink are good friends and faithful supporters of our ministry.
They have traveled all over the world with me and coached me in my efforts to be a godly husband, father, and leader. (In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve needed a lot of mentors and coaches.)
Jim traveled with me to Hungary some years ago to help with the Titus Training based on the material throughout this blog. In one of our discussion groups, Jim shared with us his heart for giving to God’s work.
We were discussing the implications of Matthew 6 with our directors from Hungary and Romania. The topic was giving as an expression of our heart of love for God.
Jim looked at the group and said, “When Daniel comes to visit and presents a giving opportunity, it is an opportunity for me to express my commitment to God and to join Him in His work.”
The two directors looked a little shocked when he said that. Jim’s perspective was such a departure from the sales call presentation, from the close-the-deal approach.
Jim spoke about fundraising in terms of ministering together and being about God’s purposes together.
Fundraising is ministry and hearing Jim state that truth fired me up. If fund development, church giving, and fundraising are—rightly—considered ministry, all of us should be motivated, enthusiastic, and eager.
Fundraising as a form of ministry is a characteristic of the road less traveled, and it is a road paved with joy, freedom, and spiritual vitality.
The Road Well Traveled: Dealing with money—raising enough and spending it wisely, but especially raising enough—is a necessary evil that we have to deal with in ministry. It just comes with the turf.
The Road Less Traveled: Ministry to people includes helping them grow in their relationship with God by giving their financial resources. Leaders who understand that giving is ministry are filled with enthusiasm as they help people grow spiritually through their giving.