Do you know how to disciple generous givers? What do you want for your financial supporters versus from them?
These questions have been etched in my heart lately. It’s as if I cannot escape them, as though God keeps putting it right in front of me like the golden arches of McDonald’s when on a road trip across the United States.
Those in vocational, support-based ministry spend so much time praying, planning and developing strategy around what they want from their supporters, but they infrequently stop to think and pray about what they want for them. Rarely are strategies developed that prioritize the ministry and discipleship of supporters.
For nearly 13 years, I have served in full-time, vocational, support-based ministry. Throughout this journey, several leaders I’ve met through the Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA) network and conferences have come alongside of me to mentor and challenge me as a disciple of Christ. It has been a slow but steady process of transformation from the inside out. I have a new and fresh vision; what began, as a role of fundraising has now become a ministry that disciples generous givers.
However, as compelling and biblical as the idea of discipleship is, how do ministry leaders carry this out practically? A good place to start is by answering the question, “What do I want for my financial supporters?” The answers to this question become your desired outcomes.
Here are five outcomes you may want to consider for your financial supporters:
1. ?To bring glory to God through sacrificial giving and obedience.
When approaching current or potential supporters for a financial gift, our chief desire for them should be obedience. In other words, our goal is not to secure a gift, but to discover whether they are being led by God to give to our cause. That goal shifts the objective from fundraising to ministry. Paul shares this same heart in 2 Corinthians 9:13, “Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.”
2. ?To understand that they share in the eternal rewards.
Oftentimes our focus can be on our calling and our eternal rewards, and financial supporters become a means to our ends. What if our focus shifted to engaging our financial supporters so they can live out their calling and store up treasures in heaven? Our day-to-day conversations and activities should be centered in our desire for them to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant….” (Matt. 25:23) We also must communicate in a way that helps them to understand that as givers and prayers, they share equally in the eternal fruit of the ministry. As they are obedient and bring God glory, they also share in the eternal rewards.
3. ?To know you sincerely love them.
People quickly figure out if we genuinely love and care for them, or if we only see them as dollar signs. Developing any loving relationship takes time and effort by understanding that your financial supporters really are. Knowing their families, hopes, dreams and prayer needs are all examples of how to demonstrate that love. However, it goes beyond that. True love is unconditional; therefore, love for them should transcend whether they give financially or not. To engage financial supporters without love are meaningless, so we must seriously consider Paul’s words in ?1 Corinthians 13:1–3 and pray that our love is felt both by those who are financial supporters and those who are unable to contribute financially.
4. ?To trust you and the integrity of your staff and board.
“He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.” (Prov. 2:7, NLT) When we compromise integrity, we compromise that shield God offers when we are walking in integrity. As stewards of God’s resources, we must prove to be trustworthy. That trust comes from keeping our word and from using God’s resources in a way that obeys his word and the law. As financial supporters experience this, they will continue to give with joy. One of the most practical ways to earn that trust is to adhere to ECFA’s “Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship” and to regularly communicate with transparency the ways in which those standards are being met.
5. ?To experience personally the hands-on ministry in some capacity.
Oftentimes the ministry stays at center stage, and financial supporters are kept at a distance like an audience. Because financial supporters are truly partners and co-laborers, that disparity should not exist. With intentionality and a little creativity, we can engage them in very practical aspects of the ministry on a regular basis. Consider inviting supporters to sit on the board or on an advisory team; invite them onsite to pray; connect them in a mentoring relationship with staff, or discover their gifts and talents and release them into various aspects of your hands-on ministry. Such invitations are similar to Jesus’ telling the disciples, “You give them something to eat.” (Mark 6:37) We can thus encourage and challenge financial supporters to engage hands-on in our ministries.
Asking, “What do you want for your financial supporters versus from them?” is one small practical step a ministry can take to move down the road to disciple generous givers. However, this small step puts you on the path to an outward focused development strategy that places the heart and the maturity of the giver at its core. It also allows ministry leaders and development staff to place the call of discipleship, which has been given to every follower of Christ, at the forefront of their development strategy and day-to-day activities.
Chris McDaniel was the chief business development officer for DELTA Ministries International and today he serves as regional account executive for vTECH io. He is also the author of Ignite Your Generosity — A 21-Day Experience ?in Stewardship (IVP Books, 2015). Today’s post is an excerpt from the 2015 Winter Edition of Outcomes Magazine.
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