Do you know how to raise money for God’s work?
I went through 11 years of Bible college, seminary, and completed my doctoral program without ever taking a class on raising money. Although we need to raise funds for our ministries, most of us are never taught how to do it.
I had to learn it all on my own, and I’m guessing your story is similar. At this point, I’ve had 40 years of practice raising funds for ministry. I’ve led Saddleback Church through eight giving campaigns since the church started in 1980.
Here’s the most foundational lesson I’ve learned: HOW you raise money is secondary to WHY you raise money. You must first answer the question:
Why are we doing a giving campaign in the first place?
You might think it’s obvious: You run a giving campaign because your ministry needs more money.
That’s not entirely it, because there’s much more to the picture.
Here are four significant reasons to lead a church through a giving campaign:
You want to build people’s faith.
God is far more interested in building disciples than raising funds. At Saddleback, we always begin our giving campaigns by clarifying that we’re about building people, not buildings.
When you challenge people in their finances, God will stretch their faith and deepen their love. They’ll become more like Jesus. The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that he gave. God models giving all throughout the Bible.
In the last 39 years, God has shown me this truth repeatedly: If you build the faith of your people, they will give to the causes God has placed in your heart. That’s why when I do a building campaign at Saddleback, my main focus is helping people grow in faith.
You want to raise money for your next phase of ministry and growth.
Your giving campaign should cast a vision for what God wants to do next through your church. The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18 KJV).
Some of you have gone to two, three, or four services to accommodate your growth. You’re pushing yourself and your facilities to the max. If that’s your church, it’s time to build.
Remember that you don’t need a building to grow. Saddleback proved that. We grew to 10,000 in attendance before we ever built a building. Today we have multiple buildings across multiple campuses. Our buildings have been tools for future growth.
You want to deepen the fellowship and unity of your church.
Fellowship and giving go together. In fact, it’s the same word in the New Testament. The word for contribution and the word for fellowship is koinonia.
Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 ESV). When people give to your church, they’re more committed to it. Both fellowship and unity grow in the midst of a giving campaign.
Small groups are the secret to raising the level of commitment and sacrifice at your church. It isn’t enough to preach a series of sermons on giving. You must also have your small groups talk about it when they meet. It takes multiple reinforcements.
You want to thank God for blessing your church.
I encourage you to do your giving campaigns either around Thanksgiving or your church’s anniversary. Both are times to celebrate what God has done in the past. Gratitude and generosity go together. The more grateful people are for their church, the more generous they will be.
Psalm 66:5 says, “Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles he performs for people!” (NLT). Encourage your people to celebrate what God has done by bringing a free-will offering in proportion to the blessings God has given them. We remember the miracles of the past to give us faith for the future.
When I reflect on the giving campaigns in Saddleback’s history, I’m reminded that they brought about some of the church’s greatest growth periods. I believe you can expect a similar transformation in your church.
One of the most important leadership skills you will have to learn is how to raise money for ministry. Ministry requires money.
It’s not enough to simply form your vision, you must be able to fund your vision.
I know many Christian leaders who have hang-ups about asking God for money. They allow personal fears and anxieties to limit the growth of their church. God wants your church to reach as many people as it possibly can. That requires money.
So get over it! And get to raising people’s faith and funds for the vision God has given you!