THREE KEYS TO “WORK THE CROWD”

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By on April 1, 2015   /   8 Comments

Groups

Some Christian workers start out soliciting churches or large groups, believing that will be the key to full funding. Most of them eventually realize their support will primarily come from individuals. Without a doubt, the tried-and-true approach to ministry partner development should always be face-to-face appointments with people. It is effective, personal, and creates a more stable support base.

So, is there a role that churches or groups can play in getting us fully funded? Yes! As a kid in Sunday School I learned a little ditty that used my hands with fingers interlocked and my index fingers pointed upward. It went like this, “This is the church, and this is the steeple, open it up, and see all the people!” When we engage in support raising, why not view churches and groups like that? They are a collection people who each have the potential of partnering with us.

I list three keys to help direct you as you engage with groups during your support-raising journey. But, understand you will not have near as much time making a presentation to a church or group as you would in a one-on-one appointment. The average amount of time afforded missionary presentations at churches is a whopping 7.5 minutes! Here are the keys:

1. Maximize what does work well with groups:

  • Cast vision for your ministry – This is your primary task throughout your support raising, whether with groups or individuals. Though a crowd won’t be able to experience you moving to the edge of your seat and leaning in as you enthusiastically share about your call and vision for this ministry, they can still sense your passion as you describe your ministry and where God is leading you.
  • Inspire with stories – Groups have little tolerance for “information dumping” so don’t spend precious time talking about the detailed strategies or the demographics of your assignment. Focus on people! Tell stories about individual lives that have been touched by you or the organization you’re joining. Leave them thinking about a specific person whose eternal future they have a chance to invest in.
  • Challenge – Make it clear where they fit into the picture you have just painted. No need to appear “needy” or use emotionally manipulative language. Just let them know you are called to a God-sized task and you recognize there is no way you can accomplish it without a solid team of God-called ministry partners standing behind you and holding the ropes.

2. Minimize what does not work well with groups:

  • The ASK – Remember in a group the basic axiom is, “everybody’s business is nobody’s business.” So don’t be surprised or disheartened when you don’t get the same type of response from a group as you do making the ask in face-to-face appointments. In a group or church talk clearly about how you are funded through ministry partners, and that you would like to opportunity to talk to many of them more personally about how they can be a part of that team.
  • Building Relationships – Raising support will always be more about relationships than money, and a group presentation is a great way to spur interest in you and your ministry. Have fun creating a “buzz” about all that God is doing! Leverage their newfound interest into immediate and specific ways they can get involved. Ideally, have sign-up cards that will gather their contact info so you can personally follow up with each one. This fosters the relational connection that is so important to developing lasting ministry partners.

3. “See the trees in the forest!”— recognize the potential a group holds:

  • Connect with and cultivate key leaders – Even though you may have a friend or advocate in a certain church, the pastor is both shepherd and gatekeeper and needs to be respected and included. Additionally, missions committee members (and other influencers who know about your work) are important connections to nurture.
  • Bless them for what they are already doing to support missions. You won’t be the first or only missionary they are associated with, so before you invite them to do even more, start off by thanking them for what they are already doing to advance the Kingdom…even if it doesn’t directly benefit you. Gratitude begets generosity, in your spirit as well as theirs.
  • Identify smaller sub-sets within the group you can also approach. Enlist the help of an “insider” who knows the various affinity group that operate within the larger assembly you are addressing. These may be Sunday School classes, home groups, men’s or women’s bible studies, youth ministries, etc…Whether or not the large group or church chooses to support you, these smaller groups sometimes yield even greater responses. Just remember as you are make your presentations you are always seeking to channel these potential partners into individual appointments.
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