Going into ministry and living on the gifts of others is a privilege. Even Jesus received support from those around him.
Growing your partner support team is a challenge for most people, but it is not an impossible task. Here are our top tips for the process:
1) Personally invite
There is a temptation to 'invite' people en masse round-robin email or an invitation from the front of church. We can think that it will speed things up and avoid the embarrassment of personally asking people for support. But if you’ve ever tried to recruit volunteers from the front of the church, you will know that the response is usually less than overwhelming. That is generally not because people don’t want to support you, but because they don't realise it's an invitation. If you want someone to join your team, you should really let them know that you want them to be on it by asking them personally. It feels very different to have a one-to-one conversation with someone where you say, “I’m working for this mission agency and I need to grow a partner team. I’d love you to be a part of that because you’re so passionate about mission/concerned about the homeless/persistent in prayer for evangelism.” *delete as appropriate.
2) Don’t exclude potential partners
It’s easy to not consider people as potentials for joining your support team. We can think of so many reasons that people wouldn’t want to join us that we end up excluding everyone we know from our list. Whether it’s that we think people don’t have enough to give to us, or they are too busy to meet, or they already support others in the church, the reasons not to ask are many. The best thing is to let the person decide for themselves. Pray, invite, and let God direct the hearts of givers, remembering that it's fine for people to say no.
3) Keep track of people
Whether you prefer a spreadsheet, record cards or a handy little notebook, you’ll need a system. You want to know who you intend to ask, who you have asked and are still thinking about it, and who has said yes but hasn’t set up their giving yet. You need to be the one bringing the initiative to all of these conversations as your potential partner will be too busy thinking about their work/family/church - and joining your support team, although important, will probably not be their number one priority.
You need to work out what to say when you share the need that you are responding to and your vision. Often the hardest part of inviting people to join your team is not explaining the ministry, it is actually asking “Would you like to join my partner team?” and then leaving a gap for the person to respond. Practice with a friend or family member and then practice again.
5) Make a plan
To reach your support raising goals, you need to know what they are. How much do you need to raise? If people give an average of £35 a month, how many new partners will you need? When do you want, or need, your support team to be in place? Working all of this out will give you the number of partners you need to recruit each week or month to grow your team in time. It may be that some of those asked will say ‘no’, so factor that in when you’re planning the number of people you need to contact each week. Now you have a plan, you can go out and do it!
If you found these tips helpful, join us on our Support Raising Training where we lay a solid spiritual foundation while also equipping you practically; helping you build a strong partner team that will be a sustaining force in your ministry.
Bi-monthly emails for Christian workers and Bible College students. Encouragement, practical tools and training to strengthen you in your support raising journey.