How clear is your ministry vision? Is it 20:20? Or is it closer to 20:200?! The most important piece of our support raising is the crystal clear sharing of our ministry vision with our prospective donors. Here are five keys that will bring much needed clarity to your primary role in support raising—that of being a vision caster:
Results, not strategies, speak to people’s hearts! It is easy to talk about all our grand ministry schemes and ideas, but lose sight of actual results. Changed lives are what really matter to our prospective partners! Yes, vision casting is about painting a picture of a preferred future, but make sure you also include the stories of lives already touched for the sake of eternity. Remember—you don’t take God anywhere. He is already at work touching lives and drawing them to Himself long before you ever arrive on the scene! So make sure you are telling about the work the Lord is already doing. It will validate your vision when you can show your prospective partners it is God Himself who is at work.
Leave the ministry language at home! Most of us hold tightly to our ministry lingo, like: “Unengaged People Groups,” “Missio Dei,” or “Urban Plunge.” Not only do these cool phrases take a lot of time to explain in your support appointments, but they can leave your prospective partner feeling like an alien on another planet, an outsider that just can’t quite connect. Do the difficult work of making your presentation easy to understand and embrace. Vision casting is simply building a verbal bridge that spans from where they live life to where God has you.
Leave room in the vision for them!Make it clear there is need and space for the involvement of others in your ministry. For your prospective partner to truly engage with you, you must mentally and emotionally help them cross the bridge you create for them. Your vision can either give them a clear incentive to make that journey or it can leave them feeling stranded as a spectator on the other side. Invite them in a clear and compelling way to be a part of fulfilling your vision in more ways than just their checkbook.
Don’t talk as if your thing is the only thing!Because of the strength of our calling and the passion God has given us for it, sometimes it is easy to talk as if our vision is the only thing God is doing and the only thing people should be giving to. Shane Bennett, editor of the Mission Catalyst, writes that some missionaries arrogantly describe their ministry as if “God has given up on alternatives and that their thing is it!” He encourages workers to instead communicate that their ministry is “a good one on a table full of good ones.” The Lord is working through others just like you all across the planet to bring people from every tongue and tribe to Himself. Passionately cast a compelling vision for your work in such a way that invites the participation of others, but make sure you don’t convey that the hand of God is solely on you and your ministry!
The focus shouldn’t be on you! The central figure in your vision should be God and his redemptive activity, not you! A natural tendency is to see ourselves right in the middle of everything involved with the vision we are casting. Recently, during my commute home, I had a person tailgating me and I was constantly keeping a view on him in my rear-view mirror. Not only did they stay right on my tail, they were swerving back and forth too. Thus, I had to keep adjusting my viewing angle back and forth to see them. But as I strained to keep them in view, all I saw in my mirror at times…was my fat face! Casting our vision to others can be just like that. We must be careful or we end up seeing too much of ourselves and what we’re doing in the picture and not enough focus on what God is doing to fulfill the vision. Keep in mind it is His ministry and He has graciously invited you to participate—not the other way around!
(ht: Support Raising Solutions)