I sit at my desk staring at the calendar, trying to map out how I am going to help our students pay for another summer mission trip. For months we plan, work, advertise and encourage (Sometimes we use guilt...) our congregation to give to our mission. Fundraising can be an exhausting, time-consuming part of the already busy life of a student pastor, but what if we've been missing the big picture about fundraising? What if it's not about the money?
We get so caught up in creating big events that raise money that we forget that nothing will compare with the support we receive as we invite others around us to come and see
, participate, understand, pray and invest. Could it be that what we need to do is move away from fundraising and back to support raising? I can (and do) create opportunities for people to support financially the student outreach we have happening in our church, but I see that the financial side must be balanced with vision and awareness in order to help people in our congregation see the big picture of God moving into the world through them.
I can ask someone to give money, or I can invite the person into an experience in which he or she can see why we are going, see what the needs are and participate in the mission alongside us. If you are not clearly articulating the answers to the last sentence (why, what, how), do not expect the people in your church to get it or join you in making it happen. However, once your congregation begins to understand God's call on individual lives, as well as the needs you are highlighting, you no longer will need to go to them year after year asking for support. They are in; they get it; they be coming to you with future mission ideas and often the financial support to help make it happen!
Whenever I enter a time of fundraising, I try to remember a few key ideas and questions so I don't miss the big picture on raising lasting support:1. Knowledge is power!
Knowledge gained under the lordship of Christ and the leading of the Holy Spirit is life-altering! Learn all you can about where you are going, the needs and the opportunities; and then find creative ways to bring it to the congregation (without asking for a dime). You may create a video with testimonies, a live Skype on a Sunday morning with the mission leader on the field you'll be serving with, or an interactive display with media, facts and prayer guides about the place you are going to serve. Create awareness, and allow God to move in the hearts of people--some of whom will then support you financially. Even if they don't, what you are doing as you serve in the world around you is worth talking about! Sometimes having somebody walk away saying, "I just had no idea this was going on," or "I didn't realize how big the need was," is just as important as the money in their pocket and can have a much bigger, long-term affect on your ministry.