5 Things About Finding the Best Ministry Partners
“I love missionary life and doing ministry, but I hate the fund-raising aspect of it!” These are common feelings for many on the mission field. I’ve definitely had them too! We have to change our mindset. Developing ministry partners can be fun and exciting. It strengthens your work and is a blessing for those who give. What exactly is the difference between a ministry partner and a donor?
Or are those just different words we use to everyone feel better about the process? Sometimes it can feel like this is another slick “marketing” technique to get people to support you! If that is all it is, you won’t enjoy developing ministry partners any more than raising money. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Ministry Partners Become Part Of Your Team
Ministry partners are people who commit themselves to you and the vision God has given. They feel part of what you are doing. They are willing to commit their time, money, and prayer, to
Don’t Sell To Them, Invite Them
This morning I received an email from one of my readers. He said something that stood out to me. It reflected an attitude I’ve also been guilty of having in the past. He wrote, “How do I sell them on this project so they will give?” Wrong approach! We aren’t selling anything. We are inviting people to join us and God’s purposes.
Some years ago, when we were working in India, the Lord spoke to me about purchasing land for a widow’s home. Land in our part of India was very expensive. It would cost thousands of dollars to buy land and then build even simple buildings there. How would I raise this money? I certainly had no idea.
Raising money for a project like this is a faith walk. We do our part, and God does His.
I remember thinking to myself – “I’m terrible at fund-raising! We barely have enough to meet our own personal needs. How can I possibly raise this much money?”
This vision was from the Lord and I was committed to obeying Him. I began to pray and ask God what to do. The Lord gave me a list of key people to ask to partner with me on this project. I shared the vision with them clearly: what God had spoken to me, the needs of widows in my part of India, and what I hoped to do by purchasing this land.
My husband and I also booked appointments to speak in churches where we shared this vision and need. It was amazing to see how many people wanted to partner with us to make this a reality! It was a great miracle when God provided. I’d done my part, and God certainly did His.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”2 Cor. 9:7 NIV.
5 Things To Know About Raising Ministry Partners
1) We don’t beg, we invite.
The attitude with which you talk to people about your project (even if the project is raising your personal support) is very important.
Read my blog on changing your mindset. If you feel like you are a beggar, you will come across like one. Instead, see yourself as an ambassador for Christ. You are inviting people to partner with something God has on His heart to do. You are giving fellow Jesus follwers an opportunity to get involved in a ministry that will significantly impact the world.
Who wouldn’t want to join that? At least in a small way? It is a privilege to have a chance to contribute to God’s projects and work.
2) Be personal, not general.
I strongly advise against sending out Whatsapp or Facebook messages or emails to everyone you know with a long explanation of your needs. That is like spamming people. It doesn’t work well.
All that will do is teach people to ignore your messages. They know you just want their money! Instead, set up appointments with people. When you ask for the appointment, be clear. Tell them you’d like to share with them about your ministry and invite them to consider making a contribution. Take the time to talk with people in person or by phone rather than just blasting out messages.
3) Specifics work better.
Don’t send out general, vague emails saying “please pray for my finances.” That may work once in a while but usually is quite ineffective. Instead be clear about what you are doing and what you need to be able to move forward. Don’t hesitate or feel like you will offend people by talking about money. Instead, relax and share with confidence. This sometimes takes a bit of practice. Try sharing your vision and the need with your spouse or in front of a mirror. Work on it until you can share with clarity, confidence and in a relaxed way.
4) Clearly ask, without putting pressure.
We often swing too far one way or the other on this. Some people are ashamed to ask the question after sharing their vision, “Would you like to become a ministry partner? To make a regular contribution or a one time gift to join me in this vision?” So they present what they are doing but then just stop. You need to ask.
Others come across very pushy. People say things that are manipulative like, “If I don’t get this money now, my children won’t be able to go to school.” Be careful. Don’t say things which put the potential partner in an awkward position if they choose not to commit to partnering with you.
5) Commit to faithful ongoing communication.
When people do respond, you need to treat them as a genuine partner. That means you give them regular updates. Sometimes you ask for their input on bigger decisions you need to make. You want to make them to feel included. Not like you are only interested in their financial contributions.
It’s A Blessing
Developing a strong team of ministry partners is a tremendous blessing. It will increase your ability to see the things God has called you to do come about. Raising ministry partners is not a side task, it is also part of your ministry job. Make time for doing this part of your ministry well.
What will you do this week to develop your team of ministry partners? What questions do you still have about this? Let me know in the comments below or on the Missionary Life Facebook page.