Funding the Vision
DATE POSTED: 10/19/2016  |     |   Category: Friend to Friend, Pastors

deck-1744953_1920From 1990 to 1999 I pastored a church in Melissa, Texas that had been at the same location for 100 years. It was positioned on an acre of land that had served the farming community well. In the nineties Melissa was transitioning from a rural hamlet to a growing suburb of McKinney.

When I was called to the church there were 65 regular attenders. By 1997 attendance had tripled and we were out of space. Growth was expected to continue and church leaders began to look at future needs. A team was selected to explore our options and state convention officials were consulted to determine if we could build or needed to move. As the team continued to pray and evaluate they were convinced we should relocate, and a suitable piece of property was identified. The final decision would be brought before the church for a vote. Imagine the emotions wrapped up in a building that had been used for so many family baptisms, weddings, and funerals over the years. Many of the people were not sure about the move.

As we moved ever closer to the vote, John, one of our key leaders, came to see me. He reminded me of our previous conversation a year and a half earlier when he told me that the company where he worked for twenty-five years was going to sell, and when it sold, he was going to give $100,000 to the church. This was an incredible amount of money for our church. Our total budget for the year was less than $200,000. I was very excited about this generous gift to the church, but time had passed and I had forgotten about the conversation. Now here he stood with news that the company was in the final stages of selling. The money would be given on January 2, almost two years after our conversation. It was to be used to help purchase the land for the future site of the church. I cannot tell you how overwhelmed and excited I was for our church.

With his permission, I shared with the church about the generous pledge made for the purchase of the land. No names were mentioned, for they wished to remain anonymous. The majority of the church was very excited. When the vote was taken a few weeks later the church approved the motion to move to the new property. On January 2, John, our treasurer Lorene Kemp, and I walked to the bank and made the transfer of over $100,000 to our Land Purchase Fund. John was instrumental in helping a 100-year old church understand how God can use His people to achieve His purpose for the future. FBC Melissa, currently meets on this property. As expected, the church has continued to grow, and today, approximately 1,000 people meet weekly to worship.

As I think back upon that experience, I am reminded of some key principles regarding fundraising.

  • Prayer
     It cannot be understated – prayer should guide the entire process. We prayed about what to do in the future, the church vote to relocate, the land we were to purchase, and that God would provide the funds. In every instance God answered our prayers.
  • Relationship
    Cultivate a relationship with potential donors. All people need relationships, and the pastor should be cultivating relationships with potential donors just as he would with people who cannot financially support the vision. Obviously, one must remember that the purpose of the relationship should not be selfishly motivated.
  • Vision
    God gave us the vision for the future. John recognized the vision and realized that the delay of his company’s imminent sell was part of a divine plan. People give less and less out of a sense of duty and more out of an understanding of how they can make a difference. A vision gives that person a picture of how their gift can make a difference.
  • Personal Stories
    Potential donors want to see that the money they give will make a difference. Churches need to share personal stories and give examples of how people have been transformed by God through their church.
  • Invite People to Participate John gave generously to the vision, and we invited others to participate in giving. As you approach people, invite them to give. Joel Mikell, the president of RSI, a fundraising organization, states, “be specific in your ask.” Provide the potential donor with specific items that could be purchased or various amounts of money needed to fulfill the vision. Let them determine which amount is doable.
  • Celebrate God’s Provision What a joy it is for the whole congregation and staff to celebrate when a vision comes to fruition. They see the evidence of what only God could do. I cannot tell you how excited the members of FBC Melissa were when they heard and then saw the promise completed. It encouraged them and affirmed that the move was part of God’s plan.

In 2009 the US Congressional budget report stated $524,898,000 was contributed by Denton County residents to various philanthropic groups and organizations across the world. This would include churches, universities, local charities, and other non-profits. These entities speak of building relationships, sharing vision, telling personal stories, and inviting people to participate in their respective projects. They spend a significant amount of their time developing relationships with potential givers. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it is time for the church to consider these principles as key strategies for talking to followers of Christ about the future of God’s kingdom.  What better investment can there be than to participate in the expansion of God’s kingdom!

 

 

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