A church that my wife and I attend is having its annual midyear appeal. Yes we are asked for money. If fact the congregation was asked for an eye watering amount of $1.7 million. But as far as I know people do not seem to be aggravated, offended or annoyed. In fact there is a sense of excitement and joy and positive emotion. What is going on? I have been teaching on giving and generosity for nearly twenty years. I know it is a topic that exercises the minds of most ministers on a very regular basis. However, it is also a topic that can make some church leaders very edgy. The reason is that they do not want to manipulate their congregation or they do not see how to raise resources without embarrassment or antagonism.
So why were we happy to be asked to give to this appeal?
The first reason is that we basically trust the church leadership. We have known the senior minister and many of the senior staff for many years and firmly believe they are honest people who will act honourably and responsibly. This is huge. People will not give if they do not trust those asking.
Second, the church has an excellent track record. When they have asked for money before, we are confident that it has used for the purposes stated.
Third, I am actually asked to give and give generously. There is no’ um’ ing and ‘ah’ ing around or hanging the head with a nervous embarrassment. It is clearly stated that, we are asking this year for $1-7 million dollars. Will you give generous towards the appeal? The simple fact is that if you want to raise money for ministry you have to ask and ask confidently.
Fourth, while we are asked confidently, the appeal is also transparent. We never get the feeling we are being tricked, coerced or manipulated.
Fifth, there is a spread of projects areas. All the money will go to some form of ministry to further the outreach of the church. Some will go to support the church’s very impressive overseas mission work on which we are regularly updated. Some will go help the poor and refugees in our own community. Some will go to further the church’s counselling centre ministering to the church and community. Some will go to plant more churches in a roughly half an hour radius of mother church. There is a project in there that will stir the heart of almost every one.
Sixth, the message is communicated clearly and vibrantly and passionately. There is a month of messages where the themes of the appeal are repeated. But there are also testimonies from people who have had their lives changed as a result of former appeals. Further, each week we are shown a different video highlighting work overseas or on other church campuses. These are powerful, well produced and engaging.
Seventh, the senior minister gave a lead in giving. It is a clear indication he has skin in the game as he asks us to play our part.
Finally, while most of the projects have some sort of social care element , they are all undergirded by a genuine desire to have people come to know Jesus as Lord of their lives and be transformed by His work and His love. This spiritual gospel dimension is not some sort of veneer on a social cake but informs every aspect of what the church does and what this appeal seeks to achieve.
So as we reflected on this experience this is why my wife and I are happy to give and we believe the vast majority of others feel the same. I don’t know what the results are as yet but even in challenging financial times we expect them to be good. We also expect to be asked on future occasions and we are totally fine with that.
For more on raising money for ministry, see my book Giving Generously : Resourcing Local Church Ministry. Buy The Book