Most ministries have a mission statement, and some have vision statements and identified organizational values. In today’s world, the message that is being sent to the world by Christian organizations is coming through more loudly through our actions, inactions and attitudes than in our print or electronic materials. Good, bad or indifferent, as soon as an organization identifies itself as faith based, the public develops a perception of the organization. That perception is based on an individual’s belief system, personal values and past experiences. And while we may not be able to control perceptions, we need to ask ourselves if we are delivering the message that we want to share with the rest of the world. Are we representing Christ well?
Far too many organizations operate in a scarcity mindset. When we operate out of a scarcity mindset, we tell the rest of the world that we are afraid that God will not provide … that there is nothing different about us. A scarcity mindset often carries forward into the way we make decisions, such as choosing to stretch staff too thin or using antiquated systems because we are fearful to spend money. Or, even worse, we can fail to make investments in the organization because we are fearful that the organization won’t have enough if we do so.
When we have a scarcity mindset, we often act as though the resources that God has blessed us with are ours instead of recognizing that we are simply stewards, and that all of our resources are God’s. One of the best ways I have seen organizations move out of a scarcity mindset is to give back. For nonprofits and ministries, giving back often comes in the form of service. Could your organization plan a day of service where its employees serve at another local ministry? When we get out of our environment and serve elsewhere we become aware of what we have and our mindset begins to change.
Building a Firm Foundation
The parable of the house built on sand describes many of today’s ministries. This parable, found in Matthew 7:24–27, tells us that the foolish man builds his house on the sand, while the wise man builds his house on the rock. Ministries and nonprofits built on the sand are those that are not built on the firm foundation of Jesus. Many organizations look good on the outside and seemingly “have it all together” but they have failed to build a strong foundation. For many of these organizations there is really no difference between them and secular organizations.
How does an organization build a strong foundation? Through its board of directors, systems and relationship with Christ.
How are board members selected?
It is based on their ability to make a significant financial contribution, or to make the “right” connections? Since an organization’s board of directors represents the organization, it is important that board members’ lives reflect a relationship with Jesus Christ and a commitment to the organization. Christian organizations will want to delineate expectations in an annual board affirmation letter and in its job description for board members.
What systems does the organization have in place?
Does it have a system for ensuring that donors receive acknowledgment for their donation in a timely manner? Is a strategic planning process used to map out the future of the organization? Putting structure in place ensures that the vision of the organization continues.
How is the faith of the organization shared with the board, staff and constituents?
Is it hard to recognize the organization as a Christian ministry or does the love of Christ shine through in everything the organization says and does? Start each board meeting with prayer, inviting the Holy Spirit into the meeting to guide and direct the decisions that are being made.
Christian organizations have a responsibility to serve and represent Christ well. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord…” (Col. 3:23, KJV). For organizations identifying themselves as Christian ministries, it is imperative that those organizations serve well and love well. This message of service and love starts with the board of directors and flows throughout the entire organization, both its staff and volunteers. There should be no doubt to the outsider that the organization has built its foundation on Jesus Christ.
Debbie DiVirgilio is president of the Faith Based Nonprofit Resource Center, an organization that seeks to equip organizations to thrive and represent Christ well. The Resource Center offers individualized services to meet the needs of ministries at any stage in the organization lifecycle. Today’s post is an excerpt from her article in the 2016 fall edition of Outcomes magazine.
Reserve your seat for the 2017 Outcomes Conference in Dallas, TX – April 4-6. Debbie DiVirgilio will be leading a workshop in the Resource Development track called, Grant Funding and Case Statements. Come and learn from one of the BEST.
And while you are exploring this one – check out all 84 Workshops that are being offered this year. Come and develop your skills as a Christian leader and nonprofit professional.