Whether you are part of a legal ministry, church or other not for profit, chances are you struggle with increasing support though volunteers and finances. If you want to grow but find yourself on a plateau, then here are 5 steps to help you grow and increase support through missional messaging.
1. It’s not about you.
My biggest mistake when I started Administer Justice was in believing I was responsible for growth. I worried over how to bring in the funds necessary to sustain and grow the ministry. While I knew how to help people with legal problems, I had no idea how to raise money or recruit volunteers. So I made a lot of mistakes.
Most of those mistakes were rooted in being internally focused. I thought about our needs. Then it hit me. I spent a lot of time counseling people to focus on what they could control and be faithful in that while releasing in prayer to God those matters they could not control. The people I spoke to were encouraged to look not only to their own interest but to the interest of others. I needed to listen to what I said.
Understanding I had no control over whether someone volunteered or gave was freeing. Recognizing their needs ahead of my own changed my whole approach. People in church or the community are not commodities. They are not check books. As image bearers of God they have dreams and aspirations. They want to be part of something bigger, eternally bigger. Tired of the grind of work, the routine of church, they want to make a difference.
Missional messaging means listening to the heart of others and seeing if it aligns with your mission. If yes – great. If no – help them connect with another church or ministry. That is a radical thought. But Paul thought of it first –
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interest but each of you to the interest of others.” Php. 2:3-4.
2. It’s not about work
I was amazed at how quickly ministry became work. There was payroll to meet, meetings to hold and programs to advance. I realized early on the danger of managing ministry versus advancing mission. My communication completely changed.
Missional messaging is about creating culture around a unified vision. This excites and energizes people. Otherwise they are just doing a job and will burn out or find themselves in conflict at work. Uniting around a common mission pulls people together. This enthusiasm extends outward to volunteers and supporters.
I first realized we had succeeded in this when a television crew came in to do a show and interviewed volunteers and staff. No one was told what to say but the talking points were all the same. Missional messaging pulls people together around common vision and purpose which draws some people and propels others. Do NOT try to be all things to all people – that just means you are nothing. Be authentic and humble but do not shrink back from the ministry God has called you to.
When I first began Administer Justice I could not even place brochures in our courthouse because I used a famous painting of lady justice with angels. That was too church-state. But authentic, humble service over time changes hearts. Within a few years the court would build rooms for us in the courthouse and judges would retire and volunteer.
3. It’s not about money
We all go to the same school of fundraising. Do a letter with underline and bold. Tell a story, show a picture, and ask for money – be sure to add the P.S. Or write a grant request. There is money just sitting out there and if you write enough grants, you are bound to get some. Yes, I made that mistake.
Missional messaging recognizes you don’t want money, you want relationships. And those relationships need to be built on understanding someone’s heart and passion and connecting that to your mission. That should NOT begin with money.
A lot of people don’t like to ask for money. I understand. I think that is a good response, otherwise you might as well be a used car salesman. But what if you could invite someone to learn more without asking for money? What if you could describe an opportunity to address the desire in their heart to have impact? You promise this isn’t about money – you just want to introduce them, keep them informed and explore practical ways to engage.
People are not commodities.
You should NEVER view someone as a means to an end. They are not a checkbook, or a temporary slave providing volunteer time. They are an important part of a team having impact and making a difference.
When I first began Administer Justice I felt like a vagabond with my hat out begging for support. I know others who get upset when people don’t simply do their duty and volunteer or give. Here’s the profound truth that should change everything. God owns it all. He – and He alone – is our provider. Do we trust Him? If you do then you will want to encourage His people to use their time, talent and treasure to advance His Kingdom – with you or with someone else – it won’t matter. You simply want to provide an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to move.
If you’ve read Gospel Justice then you know I began Administer Justice with nothing. An 8×10 donated office space with no staff, no money, and no plan for the future. Within a decade we had nearly 5,000 square feet of space, operated out of multiple locations with 16 staff, over two million in audited revenue and were impacting the lives of nearly 20,000 people in some way each year. How do you get hundreds of volunteers, hundreds of donors, staff and a broader community to be part of such a movement? You don’t. God does. But missional messaging through the power of prayer and the Holy Spirit is the means.
4. It IS about methods
I am not special. God loves me and I am His special child, but there is nothing spectacular about me. After many failures there were a few things I learned to do right and those methods are absolutely replicable.
First, humility. You cannot take on more than what is yours to bear. You must lead by example and that example must always be a towel wrapped around your waist serving the needs of others.
Second, prayer. You must build prayer into all you do. Not the sort of prayer we all do because we are ministries. Let’s start the meeting in a one minute prayer. Serious prayer that prays for others – your volunteers, supporters, clients and community. If you want others to have a heart that breaks for what you are called to then your heart better break for them.
I believe so strongly in the importance of prayer that the next book I am working on is called The Justice Cry which connects prayer to purpose-driven living. I wish I had time to recount the number of miracles I have witnessed because of prayer. Prayer matters.
Third, missional messaging. The first two prepare you to deliver God’s message to people. That sounds arrogant, but it’s not. If you have humbled yourself before a Holy God and prayed fervently for His leading, then you MUST share the hope that is possible through the ministry you are privileged to lead.
The good news is there is a specific method for delivering this message. Specific outline, materials, process and follow-up that draws people in and fuels their passion.
5. It IS about Restore 117
Let Marty and Carissa show you the method for missional messaging. Marty helped create materials used by Administer Justice and Carissa is the community engagement staff person who is privileged to work with volunteers and the broader community. You will be encouraged and equipped to replicate this method where God has placed you.
We are all members of one body working for one Kingdom. Can you imagine if every ministry and church really thought this way? Our differences would pale. So what if one group is a thumb and another an arm. We all work together to the glory of our common King.
Missional messaging helps you advance your part in the body while recognizing not everyone is a thumb. You can release them to be an arm, so that together we advance God’s purposes. Missional messaging allows our light to so shine before men that they glorify our Father in heaven. I want to be part of that work. I think you do to.
Let’s build the kingdom of justice and righteousness together. Join myself, Marty, Carissa and many others at Restore 117.