Overcoming the obstacle of finances.
Our ministry has operated for six years on little to no resources from the outside. Regular monthly donations have never exceed $600. Though there have been several large one time gifts, $600 is hardly enough to make a substantial living in any country.
How is it possible to do ministry with such tight budgetary constraints? Here are a few tips.
1) Seek God: Ask God how He wants to equip you for ministry.
But first, understand why you were called. Go back to God and ask Him to reveal to you again the vision and call to missions. The vision probably had nothing to do with money at the time you heard His voice and it probably still doesn't.
2. Develop Christian Financial Business Skills: It doesn't take a degree, just a little willingness to learn.
Scripture makes it clear that seeking personal finances for ministry is a good idea. Most main stream missions organizations require you to have a high level of funding before they'll consider sending you into the mission field. See I Corinthians 9:14 and I Timothy 5:17-18 for starters.
Start by doing your own research. Build a knowledge base of why finances were an important part of the disciples life and still are today.
There are a number of good books written on the subject. The God Ask, A Fresh Biblical Approach to Personal Support Raising by Steve Shadrach is a good book. It's geared towards long term business practices to help raise personal finances.
3. Budget: Hate it - Love it - Do it!
For some people budgeting is easy and drives their personal and professional goals. For others it can be a daunting task. Start easy. Make a simple list of what you think your ministry trip is going to cost. Whether long term or short term, it's going to cost something! Travel will take up the majority of your budget. Then lodging, groceries, cell phones, supplies, etc., etc. You can't start asking for money until you understand the hard costs involved.
4. Money Isn't The Object of Ministry!
I tell people, "if the love of money is the root of all evil," I Timothy 6:10, then at some time or another, everyone has probably let evil rule their decisions. The ministry of Help World Tour provides help for those who've lost hope. Our team has swam Australia's longest river, traveled with a mobile Las Vegas style magic show on several continents, and is in the process of building a church and evacuation center on a remote island in the pacific. All this has been done with less than $600 personal support for my wife and I.
If the money comes in, we feed the team and pay a few bills. If the money is in excess, we use the money to fund the projects we have been called to carry out. If extra money comes in, we're grateful! But most often, there is never enough money. Yet Help has been instrumental in carrying the Gospel from continent to continent and inspiring youth world wide. The return on investment in relation to the Kingdom of Christ is staggering!
Money doesn't drive ministry. Ministry is driven from the heart. The heart is driven from the vision. The vision is fueled with prayer and seeking God first. Ask God to give your ministry a clear vision. Then ask Him how He would like to go about making that happen. Money will probably be the last thing on His list. Prayer will be the first.
Our ministry projects are huge and over the top. We've been criticized and praised for the magnitude of things we undertake. We always ask for money for large projects. But only after prayer and a thorough plan of how that money is to be used.
Many of the aforementioned tips apply for project funding too, but here are a few more.
1. Create a Business Plan
This is not as difficult as it may sound. There are plenty of easy to use free templates online.
Before anyone is going to give you money for your "big idea," they want to know how it's going to be used, but also how it helps to accomplish your ministry goals. If you don't feel comfortable writing one, find someone in your church that can give you a hand.
Make sure your business plan fits your ministry model and vision.
We recently produced a movie which required $50,000 to produce. We were successful in raising the money because we had a solid business plan. The movie went on to win numerous awards. However, it wasn't just the business plan that was well written, it was the idea that the movie was going to transform lives and fulfill the goals of the ministry.
2. Report, Integrity, Report
If you're successful in raising large donations for capital projects, great job! Now work twice as hard managing that money! It's easy for capital funds to get swallowed into every day projects, especially if your personal donations fall short. Make certain you have someone who can do accurate bookkeeping of the funds and then report that back to your investors and donors. This builds trust and includes them in your ministry at a deeper level.
We send out regular newsletters, but we send out a private update regarding the progress on our church and evacuation center so donors can see first hand how their money is being spent. If we've done our job well, it often compels them to fund the project further or be available for future projects.
Money is Everything...NOT
Money is everything. You cannot do anything in this world without it. But remember, you're not operating at the level of the world, you are operating at a spiritual level. One that accounts for eternal value. The lives you touch every day through your ministry are transformed because of your heart and service.
Money will help you to do your job better. But I can tell you from experience, even more can be done through Faith.
Want to Know More?
You can see Help World Tour's official movie trailer, Take Your Dream here.