Content is written by Rev. Micah James, CCA
Recently I was having a conversation about stewardship, fundraising, and finances with a colleague in ministry. As usual, the conversation turned to budgets and the 1st quarter.
“How is your church doing?”, my colleague asked. “Fine,” I replied. As it is with most conversations between ministers, we don’t get into to much detail about these sort of things because of the delicacy that is the financial state of the church. In an article by Samuel Ogles, ‘State of the Plate’ 2016 Report Sheds Light on Church Giving Trends, “those findings for 2015 giving (the year covered by the 2016 report) include several important changes, including flat or decreased giving for almost 6 in 10 ministries (59%).”
How are we as administrators and pastors to lead in a headwind such as this? We have to start talking about money and asking for support again.
In my experience, the non-profit world is getting increasingly professional at talking about and asking for money, while the church is getting quieter and quieter. We have to overcome our fear and our discomforts, for the sake of the Gospel, and find a healthy way to talk about this important resource to the church.
Here are 5 ways to ask for money in the church:
- Tell a Story – I remember when I was a youth, I had the opportunity to share about a meaningful mission trip with my congregation. The trip costs about $300 for my participation, but it changed my life as far as my perspective on the world. I was able to articulate that $300 invested in me and my fellow travelers was an investment that changed lives. It didn’t take much persuading for people to give towards the mission trip the next year so that others could have a similar experience.
- Share Your Passion – One of my favorite books is A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri J.m. Nouwen. A great quote from this text reminds us that fundraising is as much proclamation as an invitation. “Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.” If you are excited about it, genuinely and authenticly excited about it, it will be contagious. People know when you just aren’t that passionate about the mission.
- Make It Fun – If you are raising funds for something important, like the church, this should be an act of joy, not drudgery. Have a meal. Sing a song. Play a game. Don’t make it a gimmick, but do experience the fullness of the joy that God has placed on this earth. Money and finances don’t have to be boring and stiff subjects. No wonder we don’t want to talk about money – they haven’t been very joyful topics lately.
- Talk About It Like a Normal Thing – I had a friend ask me once, “why doesn’t the church talk about money like it is a normal thing?” It made me wonder, just what do we (church leaders) sound like when we talk about money? Then I listened… We talk about money like it a foreign substance that we have never handled before. Stop it. When you speak about money and finance in the church, talk about it like you have had some before and like you have spent some before. Talk like you have been asked for money. Be ok with both the yes and the no. It not an alien, so don’t talk about it like it (or you) came from another planet.
- Remember why you are asking – God has made us stewards, caretakers, responsible people to be co-charged with overseeing some really important stuff. If we take that responsibility seriously, we serve the one who gave it all to us in the first place. Once commentator shares, that “The generosity of a believer results in “thanksgiving” to God, the one who gave the resources in the first place.” (http://www.lectionarystudies.com/harvestbe.html)
Let’s be bold in our work for the church. Let’s be bold in our request for the work of the Kingdom. In the end, if you don’t ask someone else will.