Thanks to the combination of the Christmas spirit and the IRS tax code, the next two weeks are a critical time for the finances of every ministry in the country. So what would you do if a donor called you and said: “I want to make a special Christmas gift. I don’t want it to go to the general budget. I want to know what would help you best advance your mission.” How would you respond?
I’m preparing to work with a church where this scenario has played out. The donor and pastor have agreed that the best “gift” would be for the church to have greater clarity and a specific plan around one of its strategic priorities. So I’m going to help them develop that game plan. As you think about your own ministry, I think this story points to three important questions:
- Are you clear about the strategic priorities for your ministry? I’m not asking if you have a vision statement. I’m asking if you have boiled that vision down to a handful of meaningful, actionable priorities. Being a church on mission is a vision. Developing a long-term partnership locally and internationally where the church can involve large numbers of members is a strategic priority.
- Do you know what steps will catalyze those priorities? There might be dozens of steps that ultimately need to occur for your strategic priority to come to fruition. Which step has the greatest immediate leverage? For a church that wants to launch a new worship service, hiring the right leader might be the catalytic step. It’s the specific, catalytic step that you will want to fund if given a Christmas gift.
- Who might fund this catalytic step? In many homes around the country, Christians are deciding where to give an extra year-end gift. If they have a pattern of generosity or if they live in the right zip code, they’ll be flooded with invitations to support various charitable causes. In a few cases, they may contact you to see if you have a specific need. But why wait for them and probably miss an opportunity. If you have a clear and exciting answer to questions 1 and 2, then perhaps you should take the initiative on question 3.
This Christmas, I hope that you and your ministry will receive an unexpected gift that will enable you to tell more people about the greatest gift of all.
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