August 11, 2016

You Have To Work For It

I am frequently asked about funding new ministries.

Don't you think [fill in the blank] should fully fund my work, this project?

Without you working your butt off one way or another for it? No, I don't.

I think your good, hard, ol' fashioned work is what will fund it. Your sweat, your creativity is what will fund it.

Here's a realization that every start up should recognize: If you want to fund a new endeavor, you have to work for it. One way or another you're going to have to hustle. You may fund raise, do lots of pitches, submit a series of grant applications or you may work part or full time. One way or another you will have to work at raising capital on top of the work of the ministry. Why? Because that's part of the work.

I tried two paths.

I worked full time to care for my family and did ministry for free on the side. For years.

I also tried the network fundraising approach and I failed terribly at it–which meant the ministry wasn't funded and my family was broke. As painful as it was, I wouldn't exchange it for anything. It was one of the best learning experiences in my life.

You don't have to be an expert at every means of raising the resources needed. You will need to be competent in at least one and surround yourself with others that are better at others... which means you have to admit weakness and your dependency on friends.

If you bank on others raising the resources necessary or if you plan on needing nothing you will fail. Today or tomorrow or years from now, you'll fail. Because ministry requires resources. Whether that's people, a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine or thousands of dollars.

The other side of this is the envy you may feel as you watch others raise lots of money, pitch proposals that are generously funded, get awarded large grant sums. Let's be clear: getting the resources required to do ministry is not the ministry itself. It's not success. It's half the job. Don't envy the project with lots of resources. The likelihood that the project's success is never completely contingent upon raising money. Some folks are great as money and terrible at leading communities. Maybe those people need you to lead a new start?

In any case, when it comes to the resources, you're going to have to work for it. One way or another.