We’re A Long Way Off

I have been listening to this song for over a year now and contemplating it very regularly. It is my favorite song from Gungor’s album I am Mountain. For me it is such a call to humility and grace. May it encourage, challenge, and bless you as well.

People Raising: A Practical Guide to Raising Funds


There have been many times when I have considered working for a ministry that would require me to raise funds in order to support my family and the ministry. At this point I have not ended up going down those roads, but perhaps one day the Lord will call us on such a journey. The scariest thought when considering such a venture is whether or not one will be able to raise a sufficient amount to care for one’s family and work. Then, the intimidation of asking people to give to such a cause.

A number of years ago I was having lunch with a very dear friend of mine who had been working in a para-church organization for nearly 40 years, always operating the ministry and personally living off of the financial generosity of others. He was and is an incredible man of faith. I once asked him, “Isn’t it difficult to ask people for money?” I will never forget his response. “I am a terrible fund raiser,” he said. “I don’t ask people for money. I am a friend raiser.” He went on to explain that if one simply asks for money, it’s shallow and, in some respects, easy. But it is also ineffective. The key, he said, was to invite people into relationship, and in the context of relationship, as people got to know him, he was able to share his vision and people were able to sense his passion and commitment. Once they witnessed those things, many would jump at the opportunity to invest in the kingdom work he was doing. He was a great friend raiser.

I recently finished reading People Raising: A Practical Guide to Raising Funds by William P. Dillon. As I was reading I was thinking about my friend. Many of the principles in the book were the very things my friend had shared with me. I appreciated the author’s candor as well as his very practical advice based on decades of raising funds for worthy causes. I will say that, although his point was well made, and I don’t really have any alternatives, I personally wrestle with some of the realities of fund raising that seem very sales-y. Although he stresses that it’s about friendship not funds, at times some of his strategies felt less friendship-oriented and more like people were objects for use. He makes it clear that this is not the case, but it can feel that way. When you are building relationships with people with at least a hope that they will give money to you and your cause, perhaps there is just no way around it, but it would be hard for me to do some of the things suggested and not feel like I was using people. I also noted that some of the attention given to large-donors could easily slip into favoritism. Large donors do deserve special thanks, in a way, but those who give $10 a month as a sacrifice are doing no less than those who can easily give $10,000. Again, that author really stresses that this is the Lord’s work, these are the Lord’s people, and these are the Lord’s funds, but it could be a bit tricky.

I would recommend this book to any and all who are in the position of needing to raise support for their ministries. There are many great tips and pieces of practical advice from a man who has spent a majority of his life building relationships with people and inviting them to invest in the work of ministry with their finances.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Leadership Nugget: I Will Help You

(Start at 3:05) Leadership requires team. Leaders need companions for the journey. We all need help in order to complete our mission. It is only when we are honest about our questions, fears, and inadequacies, admitting that we don’t know it all, that others are able to step up and help us.

Leadership Nugget: I Do Not Know the Way

(Start at 2:45) Leadership requires humility. It means being honest about your strengths as well as your fears and weaknesses. Only when you are humble will you … (well, that’s tomorrow’s leadership nugget).

Leadership Nugget: I Will Take It

Leadership requires courage. It means stepping up when no one else is willing to.

Leadership Nugget: One More Step

The Lord of the Rings contains so many great truths and lessons for our lives. Over the next few days I’ll be posting a few clips with leadership nuggets to ponder. Here’s one …

Leadership demands risk. It means going beyond your comfort zone. Venturing into the unknown.

In what ways are you being confronted with the need to take one more step today? A step beyond where you have ever been? A step into the unknown?

Leadership Rooted in the Presence of God

In a letter to a friend in 1951 Francis Schaeffer wrote: “I do think that our movement will never be what it could be under the Lord unless the leadership learns to be quiet in the presence of God…. I am more and more realizing that Scripturally none of us are ready for leadership until we come to the place before the Lord where we are really ready for His will – regardless of what it is – and therefore, of ourselves, we would prefer not to have the leadership, or at least be neutral concerning it. It is out of such stuff that true Christian leadership can come.”


10 Things I Do To Support Christian Clubs

IMG_6367I used to think “I’ll just leave campus ministry up to great organizations like Youth For Christ and Young Life who specialize in working with schools.” However, in the past few years, as our culture has been shifting, I have realized that in order to be effective in youth ministry, I had to be more active and intentional in supporting students on campus as a major aspect of our church’s youth ministry. In addition to attending their games, concerts, plays, etc. (which I have always done), I have sought to encourage and support the student-led Christian Clubs that meet at schools. In doing so, I have realized that YFC and Young Life actually want youth pastors from local churches to be involved. Here are 10 ways I support Christian Clubs.

  1. Pray. Whenever I think of students throughout the day, I pause to pray for them. When I drive by their schools, I pray for students by name. I pray for Christian students to be faithful in their witness for Christ so that kids (and teachers and administrators) who don’t know Jesus will come know God’s love through them.
  2. Attend. I love to attend Christian Clubs and just be a fly on the wall. Currently I attend 3 clubs in our area each week, and I visit a few others throughout the year. It’s interesting to observe how each one functions. They’re all similar, but all unique.
  3. Speak. Occasionally a club will invite me to speak, which I always enjoy. I love the opportunity to share the gospel with those who are seeking, and to encourage the Christian students.
  4. Food. Kids love free food. Sometimes I randomly show up with pizza, tacos, or donuts. (Note: Always communicate with the club leaders ahead of time in case they already have food planned.)
  5. Fundraisers. Each year one of the clubs does a pizza fundraiser. I use some of our youth ministry budget to buy a bunch of pizzas and donate them to the club. I have also done things like printed materials for them. (Important: Don’t give them money as that can cause unnecessary questions and problems for the club.).
  6. Transportation. Here in New York, most of the Christian Clubs meet after school. Sometimes kids need transportation in order to participate. I offer to take kids home if they need a lift. (Note: Follow your church or organization’s guidelines for transporting students in accordance with insurance policies and safety practices.)
  7. Feedback. As I am a fly on the wall in the clubs, I can observe things that they do well and things that they can do better. After the meetings, the club leaders usually meet together to debrief and plan ahead. Sticking around for these meetings is an opportunity to help them think through things strategically.
  8. Soul Care. I really enjoy meeting with the leaders, not just to talk about the ins and outs of the clubs, but to talk about their own soul care. It’s not just about having a cool club, but about ministering out of the overflow of their own hearts, and that begins by cultivating their personal relationships with Christ.
  9. Resource. What do clubs need to succeed? Bibles? Mentoring? Leadership training? How can I provide that for them? Recently my own daughter had the dream to start the first ever Christian Club in her middle school. I networked and connected her with my friends at Youth For Christ who met with her, provided her with a manual to help her with all of the logistics, and met with her to mentor her. A Youth For Christ staff member and I both accompanied her when she met with school administration. We have sought to give her everything she needs to get her club going and build it for success.
  10. Leadership. Hands down the most important thing that student leaders need to be reminded of is the importance of developing other leaders. It’s easy for them (and all of us) to get caught up in the now. The club may be going awesome, but what will happen next year when you graduate? The one flag that I am constantly waving before club leaders is a long-term vision for the club. When they graduate, who will take over the club? How will they be selected? Will they be ready to lead when you leave? What are you doing now to encourage and empower them to lead? This is the hard work of leadership. Helping current leaders identify future leaders, and equip them to lead once they leave is of utmost importance.