What You Need to Know to Gain That Elusive Church Partnership
One of the best ways to offer people an opportunity to both give and to join you in ministry is to challenge entire churches, not just individuals, to be a part of your financial ministry team. Here are four scenarios of churches you could be asking.
1- The Church You Attend On Sundays
This is the church you know and that, hopefully, knows you. But even if there is not a strong connection, you have the benefit of being there every Sunday. This gives you the advantage of approaching the missions pastor in person. So do that! Catch them on a Sunday morning, or even stop by during the week if you can’t connect on Sunday. Share with them what God is doing in your life, keeping it short.
At the end of your quick conversation with the missions pastor, ask if your ministry is something the church would consider partnering with financially. Notice, there is a question involved, and that may be the most important part of your chat with this pastor.
Then ask the missions pastor, or the person in charge of your congregation’s missions decisions, what the process looks like for the church to consider financially partnering with you, and follow their process. Work through each step one at a time, thinking to build this relationship as you go.
2- The Church You Attended in the Past
This one has a couple of different scenarios - the first one is where you know the missions pastor. If this is the case, follow the same approach as you would with the church you’re currently attending. Talking in person is best, so visit the church or stop by the office. Too far away? Mail a short letter introducing your ministry and follow up with a phone call to see if it’s something the church might consider as a missions partnership.
Another scenario is that there is new leadership, and the new missions pastor has no clue who you are. If you don’t have a personal relationship with the new pastor or church leadership, follow the action steps of the next section.
3- The Church Your Friend Attends
There are many times when a friend or family member wants to connect you to their church. Great! That person is what we call an advocate, someone who is actively connecting you to their network. In this situation, it’s important to have your advocate introduce you to their missions pastor. Best, of course, is if this can happen in person. Either by you visiting the church, or your advocate setting up a meeting for you.
The second best option is to have them send an email to both you and the missions pastor, introducing the two of you to each other. Your follow up here should be to call them, ask if they received the email, and then do the same thing as the first approach; briefly share what God is doing in your life, and ask if your ministry is something the church would consider partnering with financially. At that point, follow their steps for the process, but remember to be the leader during this follow up process.
4- The Church You Don’t Attend
If there is a church you would like to ask to join you in financial partnership but you haven’t attended there, and you don’t have a friend there; yet you figure you should ask anyway, go for it! As in the previous scenarios, your best bet is to show up in person.
Attend their service, meet the pastor, meet the missions pastor. Share a 3 minute version of your story and ask if you can stop by later that week to drop off some materials and maybe chat for 30 minutes about your ministry and the church partnering together. Remember, this is a partnership and you have something to offer here too. You are offering this church’s congregation an opportunity to be involved in the Great Commission in a way that might otherwise be impossible for them.
If they don’t have time to meet, still make an effort to stop by and leave some information (organization/ministry brochure, half page bio, budget info, prayer card, etc). Then you can follow up via phone, and after that through email, to see if they’ve received the information and if they are interested in considering a partnership. Churches are often slow to respond, so don’t give up until you get a firm yes or no. It’s easy to think that their silence is due to lack of interest, but more often than not, it’s simply due to busyness.
In each of these scenarios, it is important that you ask what the process looks like at each particular church, and what information they would like from you. Walk away from every conversation with details of what you need to do, what the church is going to do, deadlines for those things, and a date when you will follow up.
If fundraising is your job, which it is, then don’t push it off on the other person. Remind them, take leadership and initiate any follow up that is needed, including reminding them to follow through on a commitment.
Jenny Karr, Fundraising Coach
As a missions-minded fundraising coach, I want each missionary to understand what scripture has to say about fundraising and find encouragement that this can be done. When I’m not coaching or writing blogs, I’m spending time helping others organize their homes. Most often, I’m enjoying my favorite thing, spending time with my husband and daughter as much as possible.