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Funding Your Vision (Part 1)

As I am writing this, I’m awaiting an insurance adjuster to assess the damages to my home from Hurricane Irma. Moving to central Florida has allowed me to avoid shoveling snow and a fear of earthquakes, but hurricane season is my new reality (well, that and humidity).  We are blessed here in central Florida as I have watched what hurricanes have done in Houston, the Caribbean, and in South Florida, so I cannot complain.

What has been fascinating to watch is all of the fundraisers popping up everywhere.  My grocery store, my motorcycle repair shop, my friends, my church, my newsfeed on Facebook with GoFundMe links, my favorite charities, my least favorite charities… the list is never-ending. 

Ironically, churches are constantly banging their heads against the wall trying to get their faithful attenders to give towards God’s great calling for them, when seemingly stingy people suddenly become quite generous during tragic times.  Moreover, God forbid if a church has to cancel services one Sunday; it can take months to financially recover from that unfortunate reality!  Yes, church leaders hate to miss a week of worship, but the dirty little secret is that the financial devastation from a missed Sunday is likely what is really keeping them up at night. 

Don’t get me wrong: please contribute towards tragic needs! The question I am asking here though: How does a church get out of desperation into a healthily financial standing so they can actually fund the vision they believe God has given them?  How do they get out of crisis mode and in growth mode? 

This is the first of several posts about funding the unique vision God has given you.  Feel free to reach out to me if you would like to talk deeper on this topic.

Overall Principles of Generosity

  1. Create a Compelling Vision Worth Giving To.  I tend to see churches fall into two categories.  The first is the desperate plea.  These churches constantly cry out in crisis mode about how they are behind on their budget.  This crisis plea works, but only a few times. After a while, it just becomes white noise; that is, if the attenders stick around long enough to hear it a second time.  The other category is the pastor who gets real excited about an idea and gives quite a compelling emotional heartfelt plea.  Again, this can work a few times, but then the pastor starts wondering why it is falls flat every time after.  Believe it or not, your attendees are not as stingy as you think they are.  Even low-income congregations will give generously to a compelling vision.  They long to be a part of something bigger than themselves!  It’s time to stop blaming the people and do some ruthless self-assessment.  What is it about our vision that is not compelling enough that congregants will not invest their hard-earned cash into? We will talk more about this in future posts, but out the gate, this question has to be asked.
  2. Ask the Right Questions. President of Converge Scott Ridout gave me 5 great questions to ask when a congregation begins addressing the generosity challenge of the church: 1) Why can't we stay here? 2) Why should we go there? 3) Why now? (what’s the urgency?) 4) How are we going to get there? 5) What is expected of me?  Again, future posts will dive deeper into these questions, but they are worth it for you to start pondering. 
  3. Be Unafraid of the Ask.  Most pastors are tormented when it comes to asking for money.  Contrary to how media likes to portray clergy, pastors tend to avoid the money topic.  The irony is that they think it will come across as self-serving, but in reality their apprehension is really making it all about themselves.  They fear about what people will think about them, which by very nature is self-centric!  If you really believe God is leading in this movement, to not ask is robbing the average Joe from participating in God’s great plan!  If you are afraid to challenge folks to be generous, then all of the strategies, seminars, and blog posts in the world will not do you a bit of good.  Before we move onto the next blog post, you need to go before the Lord and wrestle with this spiritual issue.

The next blog post will dive into deeper principles.  For now, I just laid out three principles that can be a bit brutal if you do some honest self-assessment.  Take some time in prayer and ask the Lord to reveal to you what some of your challenges might be

Go to PART 2


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